Welders vs. Philosophers (“The Marco Rubio Fallacy”)

Welders make more [income] than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.“–Marco Rubio (Nov. 10, 2012)

In fairness to Marco Rubio, who we greatly admire, he is making a more general point about the merits of vocational education, but unfortunately, his core argument (i.e. we need to send more students into vocational training) is riddled with theoretical and empirical fallacies, starting with the “labor theory of value” fallacy. First of all, it is the market (i.e. supply and demand), not the inherent worth of one’s products or services, that determines how much one’s labor is worth. (This is why pro-athletes earn much more money than both welders and philosophers do.) Therefore, if the government were to subsidize welding school or take other measures to increase the number of welders, the wages of welders would go down, all other things being equal! Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, philosophy majors actually earn a higher level of annual income on average than welders do, as Faria Chideya explains in this short essay. So, if you don’t like books, go ahead and learn a trade (or play sports), but remember, market forces will determine your wages, not Senator Rubio.

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