Trading Trades: The Near-Extinction of the Trade Market

blog post may 6 2019


Long before capitalism and the free market, our ancestors relied upon learning a trade or skill in order to barter goods for their livelihood. Farmers, blacksmiths, shoemakers, bakers, fishermen, liveries, etc. all relied heavily on these traders whose skills were also taught to their children as they carried on the tradition for future generations.

Since the explosion of capitalism, globalization, and the free market, big corporations thrive on mass-producing items that used to be hand-tailored by local craftsmen. More and more younger generations are bypassing learning trades and heading toward four-year universities majoring in disciplines that may or may not lead them to prosperous careers later down the road. This falsehood that a four-year college is more reputable than two-year trade schools cheats these young people out of learning a useful skill that can lead to financial independence and self-sufficiency. Yet, we continue to be shackled by the confines of capitalism and keep falling for such traps as pursuing useless degrees—myself included.

Personally, my family would be lost without a “one-stop shop” business like Amazon. We get all of our items for our cat colony and for my dad’s care and of course, all of my work is published through them as well. I, too, am enslaved by capitalism.

I went to a four-year university and never ever used my bachelor’s degree in psychology. This led me through a near twenty-year struggle to find my place in the world, settling for random part-time work and never being granted a steady nine to five job with a 401k or benefits or a pension. I had to figure it all out on my own the hard way. If I could go back in time, I would have gone to school for a trade and become a beautician. I would have my own beauty salon by now and I would be much better off than I am now. I was further brainwashed when I decided to go back to school that MBA’s were the way to go to find work not realizing that you had to have a job in business already for an MBA to be valuable. I realized much too late that the more degrees one carried the least likely you were to get a full-time job. Higher end degrees in useless fields are like garlic to vampires. Businesses don’t like you educated and don’t like to pay you what you’re worth. They want you dumb and they want cheap laborers. I had no one’s guidance through all of this and just went by with what I read and what I was told through second-hand information.

I deeply regret going back to school and now am shackled by debt I will never be able to pay off in my lifetime. If I could offer any advice to those not sure whether a four-year college is suitable for them or not, consider two-year trade schools first. When I was a senior in high school, I really had no guidance on what to do. I didn’t have any real interests and wasn’t fully prepared for life after graduation. I decided a four-year university would be a suitable way to spend another four years deciding what I wanted to do with my life even though I still was no closer to finding a career or knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

My father was the only career individual in my life and he was an educator for nearly forty years. I kind of got thrown into education through his suggestion and not because it was any sort of passion of mine and essentially because I was trapped post-graduation and not knowing the first thing about finding a job with my useless degree. I didn’t like psychology enough to want to pursue it as a masters degree or Ph.D. back then. I was a dumb kid. I was a dreamer. I honestly thought I would get married and have kids and be a stay at home mom like my mom was. I had no aspirations to be better than I was and went through many heartbreaking years stuck in this horrific rut and I feel like I am in my own personal hell reliving the same mistakes over and over again. As I got older, I realized that marriage and kids were not in the cards for me and I developed a very strong, feminist, “Rosie the Riveter” type personality. I learned that I don’t need a man to survive and have always found some sort of way to keep afloat all of these years.

My advice to those uncertain of which path to choose, consider computers, plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, cosmetology, etc. anything that offers you certification and licensure and allows you to become an apprentice, perfect your skill, and someday become your own boss. Those crafts and trades offer you an opportunity to build something of your own someday, provides you with a trade you could teach others, particularly your own children. It is a golden commodity long lost due to these corporations that shackle us all. We need something that can be passed down from generation to generation; something we can be proud of and passionate about that provides you with lifelong financial security.

When you learn a service or trade that no one else around you knows you become so valuable in this market society and you can name your own prices and establish a brand for yourself which leads you one step closer to complete and total financial freedom. Also, when you choose a two-year school to learn a trade, you most likely won’t face crippling debt post-graduation and since you will have a useful trade you will be able to find work quickly and make money to pay off any debts you may have accrued if any.

My point is not that four-year colleges are bad. I find that they can be poor decisions for those, like myself, that had no real guidance or real understanding as to the devastation the debt I’d have and the lack of financial opportunities I’d have post-graduation. My last piece of advice for those seeking career advice is that if you do choose four-year college, please pick something that you know will give you a guaranteed career when you’re done, offers licensure of some sort from your state for the skill you’re obtaining, and you’ve thought out how you are going to pay back your debts when you are done. Being pushed into a four-year college was the worst mistake of my life and I furthered my mistake by getting a masters and Ph.D. with no real skill set to help me get out of debt. These are mistakes I have to live with for the rest of my life and if I can help someone starting out to not make the same mistakes I did then I would feel that this whole ridiculous mess would have meaning.