In Marco Rubio's vision of a perfect America, there are more welders than philosophers.
During Fox Business Network's Republican presidential debate Tuesday night in Milwaukee, the Florida senator said that what makes the U.S. special is the "millions and millions of people who are not rich," but through "hard work and perseverance are able to be successful." The problem, he said, is the economy does not provide jobs that pay enough. "If I thought raising the minimum wage was the best way to help people increase their pay, I would be all for it," Rubio said. "But it isn't. In the 21st century, it's a disaster. If you raise the minimum wage, you're gonna make people more expensive than a machine and that means all this automation that is replacing jobs and people right now is only going to be accelerated."
To make the United States more friendly to business owners, Rubio said there needs to be tax and regulatory reform, the debt needs be controlled, and ObamaCare has to be repealed and replaced. He also wants easier and faster access to job training programs. "For the life of me, I don't know why we have stigmatized vocational education," he said. "Welders make more money than philosophers; we need more welders and less philosophers."
That's not necessarily true. Lydia Frank, senior editorial director at PayScale, told The Atlantic her company has heard "again and again" that employers "value creative problem solving and the ability to deal with ambiguity in their new hires, and I can't think of another major that would better prepare you with those skills than the study of of philosophy." Famous — and wealthy — philosophy majors include PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who majored in 20th century philosophy at Stanford; hedge fund manager George Soros, who studied under Karl Popper at the London School of Economics; investor Carl Icahn, whose 1957 thesis was titled "The Problem of Formulating an Adequate Explication of the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning"; and Rubio's own rival, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who was a medieval history and philosophy major at Stanford University. It looks like it might be time to finally put the tired trope "there's no money in a liberal arts education" to rest. Catherine Garcia