September 29th, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Mike Rowe

Two years ago, the Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" host launched a private effort to end what he called America's "war on work." He set up a website called MikeRoweWorks, and video-blogged about the way vocational schools were seeing their number of applicants decline, and how trade labor was being marginalized. Additionally, he talked about how there weren't enough welders, pavers, pipefitters and other skilled workers to keep America's bridges and roads from "literally falling apart."

Rowe's mission could reach critical mass Wednesday when he arrives on Capitol Hill with members of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. They'll lobby Congress to pass a bill requiring that the federal stimulus funds directed toward transportation actually be spent.

Originally, a spokesman for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers told CNN that only three percent of the stimulus funds allocated to transportation infrastructure had actually been spent. That figure is incorrect. Of the $26 billion provided in stimulus spending to repair roads and bridges, not three percent, but 50 percent, has been spent, according to government figures.

It is because of this stimulus funding that the transportation construction industry is not in complete shambles, says Jeff Solsby of the American Road and Transportation Association. “The bottom line is the stimulus has been a lifeline for our industry, as without it many of our jobs would be gone” Solsby says.

Back to Rowe and AEM’s original point, however: Has the annual investment in infrastructure been enough? There are three factors are offsetting any positive from additional stimulus spending, Solsby says.

First, it has been a year since Congress renewed legislation that supports the how much the is invested in annual transportation infrastructure. That bill is usually renewed every six years, and it covers items such as expansion and maintenance. In 2010, the amount invested is $41.1 billion.

Why has the renewal been delayed? A renewal could likely mean an increase in gas taxes to fund the investments. This is a very touchy subject given the election year, Solsby says.

Second, the amount of investment level determined—that $41.1 billion—is not nearly enough even maintain the country’s transportation infrastructure, let alone expand it. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2009 report on the conditions and performance of the nation’s highways and bridges, at least $71 billion is needed in investment. (Incidentally, the government estimates that for every $1 billion spent on the traditional funding of transportation infrastructure, 34,000 jobs are created.)

Another unknown factor complicating the issue: massive cuts in state funding. “Almost half of the states decreased their own infrastructure funding,” Solsby says, “and that offsets any [benefits of the] stimulus.” Infrastructure

Association of Equipment Manufacturers website

Malika Saada Saar

When Craigslist agreed to take down its adult-services section earlier this month, pressure from various attorneys general and media coverage of sex trafficking online weren't the only contributing factors. Three years ago, Malika Saada Saar, the founder of The Rebecca Project for Human Rights, started researching the sexual victimization of girls. In May, the group bought an ad in the San Francisco Chronicle begging Craigslist co-founder Craig Newmark to stop the adult-services section, says a profile in the Daily Beast.

When that didn't work, Saar arranged a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder and worked with the House Judiciary Committee to organize hearings on sex trafficking, according to the Daily Beast. Now the Craigslist adult-services section, as they say, is history.

The Daily Beast: The woman who beat Craigslist

The Rebecca Project website

Britney Spears

Nearly three years after the troubled pop star was hospitalized and placed under the conservatorship of her father, it appears her comeback has been established. Tuesday night, Spears was at the center of the plot on Fox's musical comedy-drama "Glee."

Spears made a number of cameos in the program, according to the Wall Street Journal's "SpeakEasy" blog. Actress Heather Morris headlined the episode as Brittany S. Pierce. In dream sequences, "Brittany" rocked "Me Against the Music" with Spears herself in a cameo as the Madonna role.

Also in the lineup, Morris in the red leather bodysuit for "Oops, I Did It Again," in the sheer diamond bodysuit during a romp of "Toxic," and then wielding that huge python during "I'm a Slave 4 U." In a YouTube video posted by Fox, Morris called the opportunity "Spearstacular."

Wall Street Journal: 'Glee' episode recap

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Jerry

    Mike Rowe for President, he's got my vote

    September 29, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Willie

    I love this guy and totally support what he is saying. However, I really hate that this is where our stimulus dollars should have gone in the first place; not to the banks and Wall Street.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rondo

    Ewww. Get my hands dirty with a real job? You betcha.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff

    I remember Trade School in my home town taught Auto Repair, Upholstery, Printing,Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrical etc etc.
    Now, entrance exams, limited access, more classes than trade learning. This form of education has been hijacked by school administrators and teachers of non-trade subjects for "Prep School-like" learning. This country was built on hard work, good reliable workers, and lots and lots of O.J.T. Its all gone overseas and we are left counting the rich man's money and stocks for real poor man's wages.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. aksdjflakdjf

    Why is anything trained monkeys say or do news? Actors, singers with no musciall training are just trained monkeys.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • maerlyn

      I blelieve Mike Rowe *is* a trained singer – opera in fact. He has a fantastically wonderful voice, a true gift from the Creator.

      September 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. johnnyhouse

    No need of passing out construction money until the Chinese get all of them shovels Obama ordered.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chicagoannie

    Nice job, Mike Rowe. Good to see a successful guy who comes off like an average working Joe promoting the average working Joes! Love you Mike!

    September 29, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Billinoly

    We might see more trade school turn out if they weren't exuberently over priced. I looked into an electrical degree from a local technical college. On top of a federal loan I'd have to pay $10k out of pocket for each year in attendance. Total was about 20k a year. That's over twice the ammount of the 2006-2007 median average cost for college(same years I'd applied). Perhaps we'd see more skilled trade if the cost for tech colleges came down to the the median average. It would also help if highschools pushed vocational education programs as equal to college prep. If you walked out of highschool with certs as an electrician you'd probably be much better off than carrying a 3.0 and extensive knowledge on the musings of Walden's forestry.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jen

    Mike Rowe is a true inspiration – and an Eagle Scout! I was proud to have my son hear him speak at the Boy Scout National Jamboree (which did not get enough press). "A Scout is clean – but not afraid to get dirty!"

    September 29, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. vicki

    We need more investment in public infrastructure, but that doesn't mean building MORE ROADS. I would like to see money actually spend money on effective public transportation systems instead of more congested, environmentally destructive, and more economically costly roads. Public transportations systems like a actual doable rail system and tran systems, which effectively stop urban sprawl and increase a sense of a community in cities verses create highly segregated sub communities which most of the time is based on class and race. And tran systems are also more effective in supporting small to middle size retail business with more foot traffic than roads, which basically lead us only to big corporate ( aka big box companies) processed food marts. Anyways... yeah I appreciate how Mike Rowe is making a public statement that being a tradesmen is just as equal as a college educated person; cause the fact is, when I graduated college, I know many people who still haven't contributed a bit to society with that education.

    September 29, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pamela Sellers

      Thank you for your very insightful comment.

      September 30, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  11. Pamela Sellers

    Thanks to all in this pool for the excellent comments.

    September 30, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
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