Aren’t you ashamed of your job?

Franklin Graham thinks all you technical people, you computer programmers and IT managers and such, have nothing to be proud of in your work.

“This is terrible. I live in North Carolina where so much of our manufacturing base has gone to other countries,” he insisted. “And people are out of jobs, are out of work. And they say, ‘But we’ll retrain you, we’ll let you be a computer programmer.’”

“They don’t want to be a computer programmer!” Graham continued. “They want to do the same job as their fathers and their grandfathers. There was pride in the manufacturing and the building. And we’ve taken all that away and it’s sad.”

Gosh. I wonder what he thinks of college professor. We don’t build nothin’.

Well, I guess I could go back to my roots. My father pumped gas for a good long while, and then worked as a diesel mechanic. I can’t honestly say that I ever dreamed of doing that for a living, but he was good at his job and worked hard.

His father before him was basically a seasonal farm worker, I think. I could aspire to apple-picking in Yakima during the fall, and working in the canneries in the winter, I suppose.

His father before him was also, I think, a migrant worker. His father before that was a farmer in Iowa who lost the farm in the aftermath of the Civil War. I suppose I could join the army and get malaria and lose everything I own. There has to be some pride in being host to millions of Plasmodium.

Before that, I don’t know many of the details, but I get the impression my family comes from a long line of scalawags and ruffians, which certainly does sound like something I could aspire to.

I wonder what Graham manufactures? At least I know there were no worthless, no-account, shameful, lying preachers in my ancestry.


  1. fmitchell says

    Meanwhile, programmer jobs are going to Eastern Europe, Russia, and (surprise) China. They were going to India for a while until the Indians started demanding more money.

    That’s the world we live in. If they can’t automate your job, they’ll find someone elsewhere who’ll do it cheaper. The “old days” of company loyalty and job permanence are gone. If you can’t retrain yourself, or use existing skills for your own benefit, you’ll starve. Pity the Trumpkins won’t accept the new reality and think Big Daddy will turn back the clock for them.

  2. michaelvieths says

    So, wait. He says:
    “We need jobs, we need to get employment up, we need to have hope for the future. And the only way you’re going to have hope for the future is if a kid goes to college and comes out and knows, ‘I can get a job and I can get a good paying job and maybe I can work my way up the ladder.’”

    Followed by:
    “They want to do the same job as their fathers and their grandfathers.”

    Which is it, do they want to work their way up the ladder, or do they want the same job as their forebears? Does he not know how ladders work?

    Incidentally, when I get home from a backbreaking day in the code mines, I _do_ have some pride in my work. But maybe I don’t count as people.

  3. qwints says

    If you can’t retrain yourself, or use existing skills for your own benefit, you’ll starve.

    Why would anyone accept such a system?

  4. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Building things, literally, is actually something that really rewards ones desires and fulfillment, etc. aka “craftsmanship”.
    While “building things” in a manufacturing plant is more like being a cog in a machine. And was the origin of the slur “wage slave”. That people on assembly lines are living automatons that obey a list of instructions, repeatedly, all day long, all week, month, year.
    Most computer programmers are more in the “craftsman” stage where their program becomes a functional piece of art with utility. Something worth being proud of, much more so than “installing (Widget A) into (Assembly Q)” or even “assembling all this pile of parts into (product Z)”.
    In short, He’s talking of “assembly” and calling it “building” (sloshing different definitions of “building”)
    or to cynically translate These people too stupid for ‘puters. Put em in factories to build what they’re told [*gulp* /nasty]

  5. fmitchell says


    A better system would use public funds to support displaced workers and to retrain them. Even better would be a guaranteed income, so that you don’t *have* to work if you don’t mind living very cheaply.

    Good luck getting either with the Republicans in control. Even the Affordable Care Act is on death row. Because the purpose of government is to steal from the working class and give to the mega-corporations.

  6. qwints says

    @fmitchell, retraining generally doesn’t work, but you’re right on about Republicans. The people who believe Trump would get them jobs were fooled.

  7. Larry says

    Trump is gonna take care of all that. Using the Carrier negotiations as a model, he’ll give corporations millions of tax dollars so they’ll say they’ll keep a couple hundred jobs from the thousands they’re sending to China, or Mexico. And then, once the check clears, they’ll go ahead and send those jobs and close the plant. Meanwhile, the Deplorables will crow about how great Trump is and the press will offer glowing stories and ignore the actual facts.

  8. numerobis says

    Is the quote actually saying that programmers don’t have pride? I can read it either way depending on context.

    The charitable read: people had pride in their work, now they lost their job, and they don’t necessarily want to be a programmer. Which isn’t in itself a slur on programmers.

  9. says

    The problem of automating jobs and putting people out of work is nothing new. When the first mainline railway was built between London and Birmingham in 1837 it had a widespread effect. Two years later, in a town on the road route from London to the north one posting hotel is recorded as having laid off 200 horses – It is not recorded how many stableboys, drivers, etc., were laid off – or how it affected the local farms which had been growing oats to feed the horses.

  10. GenghisFaun says

    “I wonder what Graham manufactures?”
    Ha! You know exactly what he manufactures. Bulls also manufacture it out of their arses, but at least their product is useful as fertilizer.

  11. whheydt says

    Wait a minute… So companies offshoring manufacturing jobs is the fault of *programmers*? How does that work?

  12. fmitchell says


    Expecting a 50 years old assembly line worker to pick up C programming is a little unrealistic. I imagine he knows how to do *something* he can monetize, right? If he’s a “builder”, maybe he can pull in some money making furniture or fixing cars. And if not, then I guess he’ll have to learn, fast, or else find a sugar momma. Or not vote Republican next time.


    In related news, automation is the fault of immigrants.

  13. qwints says

    And if not, then I guess he’ll have to learn, fast, or else find a sugar momma

    That’s funny cause his kids starve.

  14. robro says

    He should get a job flanking flints. I hear there’s a need for it…YUGE!…now that we’re all going paleo.

  15. says

    There was pride in the manufacturing and the building.

    Spoken like someone who’s never worked on a production line. There is no “pride” in modern, mass-production manufacturing. There is back-ache and tedium and sore feet and tedium and the bastard working next to you who won’t shut up about soap-operas or football or Celebrity Combine-Harvester Racing On Ice, or whatever, and there is tedium and repetitive strain injury and trying to gulp a boiling hot drink in a ten-minute tea-break, and tedium, and lousy hours and tedium, and the constant risk of being laid off because the bean-counters predict a lower profit this quarter (though it’s still profit in the millions), and there’s tedium and pushy line-leaders who gradually increase the speed of the line, and tedium. And did I mention absolute, mind-numbing, tedium? And should you be unlucky enough that they find a cost-effective way to automate your job out of existence, there is blame for being a lazy no-goodnik who can’t be bothered to work.

    Pride? No. Just resignation to a necessary evil.

  16. robro says

    fmitchell @ #13 — “Expecting a 50 years old assembly line worker to pick up C programming is a little unrealistic.”

    That’s certainly true and of many other types of work. But, there’s an even bigger problem: Expecting any 50+ year old out-of-work person to find a job is unrealistic, unless they have exceptional skills in a high demand area. If you’re a woman, it’s even more difficult. The high rates of unemployment in the 50+ demographic is not just a result of poor skills. As a society, we just don’t value older people. Because you can’t really hide age, hiring managers know you’re older and can easily avoid hiring the older candidate without referencing age. So, even if you’re very well qualified for the position, you don’t get considered because the unspoken word is hire young.

    After I got laid off at 62yo, I spent 6 years trying to fine another job. If recruiters or hiring managers talked to me at all, it was usually just once. My resume was also a dead give away of my age. My wife, who didn’t work for many years to take care of our son, has worked for years to get a job by doing volunteer work and low-paying jobs. She finally has a full-time position, but her skills aren’t used in the job.

  17. Hairhead, Still Learning at 59 says

    My father was the son of a Yorkshire coal miner. He remembers scrubbing his dad’s back while he sat in the tin tub the family used for bathing. From shoulders to waist his skin was marred by permanent blue-black marks: divots, dots, scrapes, and scratches. They came from coal falling from the ceilings of the mines hafts where the old man dug. My father vowed then never to enter the mines.

    And he never did.

    He ended up with a clean, middle-class job and managed to have a 30-year retirement, living in a home he owned outright. He did better than any of his siblings.

    The answer to the question of automation and the loss of jobs is not simple; in fact, the current capitalist system simply cannot run the way it has been, without the wholesale murder of millions of its redundafied population. So either we create a better economic model soon — or we watch everything blow the fuck up. (cf. Donald Trump, the match on the fuse).

  18. says

    I wonder if there isn’t an element of anti-intellectualism in Graham’s comment. Perhaps he thinks if people do the same jobs as their parents and grandparents did they won’t get involved with higher education, and hence won’t be exposed to things that will make them doubt Christianity and the status quo.

  19. jaybee says

    fmitchel @1, you said:

    The “old days” of company loyalty and job permanence are gone

    I’m in my 50s and those days were “old days” even before I started working. That was driven home at my first job when they had layoffs two weeks after I move across country and started there. The next company hit a rough patch and there was a round of layoffs. A few of the senior engineers got canned but I was retained. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was because I was cheaper, or better, or simply just luck that I was working on a project they cared about and the other guys were working on a project that was canceled.

    Anyway, I’ve never had the idea that either one of us is loyal to the other. That said, I’ve been with my current employer for 13 years, but if they have a few bad quarters, I wouldn’t be the least bit offended if I was the one who got the axe this time, just like they shouldn’t be offended if I get tired of this job and find different employment.

  20. says

    Graham’s objections are rather rich (pun intended) coming from someone who aspires to his “courtesy title.” Our Gracious Host earned “Dr.”; what did Graham do to earn “Rev.”… and does it translate to the production line?

  21. whheydt says

    Re: Daz @ 19…
    I once had the chance to see a real expert chip flint and obsidian up close, Francois Bordes. When he visited the SF Bay Area, he stayed with people I knew. One day a work I got a call, “Francois is in town. Want to meet him?” I told my boss that something had come up and I was leaving for day, then high-tailed it out to Orinda and got to see him work and to handle several items he’d made. Incredibly impressive work…

  22. whheydt says

    Re: jaybee @ 22….
    During an annual review one time my boss asked me how much loyalty I had to the company. I replied that I had as much loyalty to the company as the company had to me. He acted like it was an insult.

  23. handsomemrtoad says

    What about all the ostlers and blacksmiths who lost their livelihoods when the internal combustion engine was invented???

  24. Akira MacKenzie says

    Wait, aren’t Right-wing creeps like Graham the ones usually lecturing us that “Big Government” has no right to tell business what to do? I mean telling a manufacturer that they CAN’T relocate to some undeveloped nation where they’re allowed to pay their slaves employees with handfuls of pocket lint smacks of godless socialism to me!

    On the other hand, as someone who put in a serious effort to learn coding but failed, I can understand his frustration. Throw onto that a useless BA in Journalism and thousands in student loan debt I’ll probably never pay off before I croak, and a carefree life of blue-collar drudgery seems preferable.

  25. Akira MacKenzie says

    quints @ 2

    Why would anyone accept such a system?

    Because people have been told that there is no other alternative, at least not one that isn’t “Communist” or results in the “looters and moochers taking from the achievers.” Don’t you want to be a hard-working, patriotic ‘Merican living paycheck-to-paycheck rather than some lazy welfare queen living handout-to/handout?

  26. Akira MacKenzie says

    Sorry, my last comment was directed at qwints @ 3.

    It’s been a shitty day and I’m too depressed to proofread.

  27. ck, the Irate Lump says

    I wonder if Graham has very few programmers in his “flock”, so wants to ensure that the unemployed factory workers in his flock don’t get retrained into non-Churchgoing programmers.

  28. khms says

    Hey, I resemble that remark! Well, at least partially, if you squint right.

    You see, I’m a programmer. Always have been. Working that job for … [counting fingers and toes] … 25 years now, and I’m 56.

    I probably have approximately as much loyalty to my boss as the other way around: I’m his first full-time employee (yay working in a startup!), currently his senior employee (everyone else is approximately half our age) … I probably couldn’t find another job, and I’m pretty certain he couldn’t replace me before going under. There never seems to be enough time to train up a decent replacement.

    Yes, I’ve been working this same job for the full 25 years I’ve been normally employed. The only other job was as a student working for the uni computing center – 3 years at (I think) 10 hours a week, not really the same kind of thing. Oh, and 1980 18 months crewing a desk for the German air force for approximately DM 200 (around US$ 100 I think) a month, which was enough money to finance my first computer, an Apple ][+, significantly better than the computer the “job” had in the back room – what counted as compulsory service back then. Kind of a tradition, I’ve often had a computer at home better than what I had at work.

    However, if I lose this job, at least I’m pretty sure I won’t starve. There’s a reason we call our system a “social market economy” (usually in contrast to a “free market economy”, which would probably be pretty close to the US model).

    And yes, occasionally I do have stuff to be proud of in this job. Oh, and the boss experimented with exporting jobs out, I don’t recall many of the details – some people who we communicated with in English, badly, and whose results were not particularly impressive. The experiment wasn’t repeated.

  29. applehead says

    Blech, the codemonkey smugness in here is rancid. Just you wait till self-correcting, evolutionary algorithms – or low-grade AI – hit the market and the gravy train derails with 300 mph. If computers can program themselves, you guys will be as useless to the real masters of the world, the Owners, as stable boys and you too will starve in a ditch somewhere.

  30. birgerjohansson says

    Graham ignores the most important question: Are the programmers jewish / muslim?

    Also “scalawags and ruffians” are *job creators* and therefore important!

  31. neuroturtle says

    I can’t wait to see Republican heads explode at the rapidly-approaching necessity of universal basic income.

  32. ck, the Irate Lump says

    applehead wrote:

    Blech, the codemonkey smugness in here is rancid. Just you wait till self-correcting, evolutionary algorithms – or low-grade AI – hit the market and the gravy train derails with 300 mph.

    I don’t know why you’re so smug. When that happens, everyone’s profession is fucked (yes, even artists). Fortunately for everyone, it’s still stuck in the never-ending “twenty years away” phase that it’s been in for the past twenty years.

  33. Matrim says

    Can we just skip to the Star Trek pinko-commie philosophy of self-betterment thing now?

    Eh, I suppose then we’d have to figure out how to get people to do the jobs no one would do unless they had to…

  34. wzrd1 says

    @ck #38, those self-programming AI computers have been 20 years away for closer to 50 years now.
    I doubt I’ll get to see gainful fusion power or anything even close to AI.

    As for parents and grandparents occupations, well, mom was a journeyman seamstress, dad slung concrete for a living, one grandfather owned a dry cleaning business and the other was a chemist.
    I’ll stick with IT and IT security, much better pay and less exposure to unpleasant chemicals or back breaking labor.

  35. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To fmitchell

    A better system would use public funds to support displaced workers and to retrain them. Even better would be a guaranteed income, so that you don’t *have* to work if you don’t mind living very cheaply.

    Good luck getting either with the Republicans in control. Even the Affordable Care Act is on death row. Because the purpose of government is to steal from the working class and give to the mega-corporations.

    This. More this.

  36. mostlymarvelous says


    What about all the ostlers and blacksmiths who lost their livelihoods when the internal combustion engine was invented???

    And nobody seems to lament the loss of jobs making whalebone corsets and what happened to all those typewriter technicians and the door to door salesmen? You don’t see anyone going about at dusk nowadays lighting those gaslamps for us to see where we’re going, either. When it comes to more recent working practices, the decline of jobs in manufacturing has also been matched by an equal decline in the bureaucracies.

    Banks, insurance companies, public services no longer have large mailrooms or typing pools or serried ranks of data entry operators separated from the rest of the place, let alone teams of people lifting, pushing, carrying, pulling huge trolleys laden with various bundles of paperwork then lifting, shifting and carrying more bundles in and out of filing bins, shelves, drawers and cabinets in other parts of a large building or its annex. And because there are no longer those huge buildings holding so many people from one employer, it’s no longer routine to have a cafeteria built into the operations either. More perfectly satisfactory jobs gone never to return.

    There’s nothing romantic or desirable about the utter tedium of routine factory or ancillary office work. The only desirable thing is the security of full time jobs with reasonable if not startling pay and the community that can be built and sustained when most people have a steady, reliable source of income. There was also, of course, with larger employers quite a lot of associated activity. Sports teams and other amenity groups built cohesion and loyalty within a workforce or a location even if employers weren’t wonderfully loyal or supportive towards their employees.

    People need to think in terms of their towns and localities and the physical attributes of their surroundings and work out what kind of activities would both generate income and support a cohesive community life.

  37. maddmatt says

    In Franklin’s defense, (wow, never thought I’d type that), a whole lot of people don’t want to be programmers. It takes a certain loosely defined ‘type’. I’ve seen many competent, smart people walk away from it as a lucrative profession and do something else.

  38. wzrd1 says

    Most former programs I know left due to burnout.
    During major projects, rapid fire change requests and feature additions can occur, which is stressful, as there are deadlines to be met.
    For others, the tedium of working on the same product (think of the Microsoft Office programming team as an example).