Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Did Tim Taylor Kill the Do-it-Yourselfer?

Let’s take as our starting point the Popular Mechanics article by Glenn Reynolds about the decline of manual skills in society. He ends the article with point that I had to admit came very close to the mark personally:

Most people can do more than they think they can, and it’s often fear of failure as much as lack of skill that keeps people from tackling hands-on tasks.

Speaking from experience, I know how easy it is to fall into the mindset of better to do nothing than do something wrong. Been there, done that, would have bought the T-Shirt but wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do.

Fortunately I have a job that allows me to start with the engineering I went to school for and expand my more manual skills in the course of setting up tests. Confidence in a great thing, I recommend it for everyone.

And there lies the rub. Many people fear being caught out in false confidence. The show “Home Improvement” rested entirely on the premise of the Do-it-Yourselfer who is totally clueless despite his self-professed competence. After that, a leaky faucet suddenly looks like a chance to be branded as a Doofus Dad for the rest of one’s life.

One other factor that plays into to hesitancy to practice manual skills is that when you make or repair something, you take the responsibility that you have done it right. Responsibility is a dirty word the days. I think that many people find a sort of comfort in the thought that if something goes wrong when someone else does it they can sue. That safety net is gone when you do it yourself. The cynic in me is waiting for the first lawsuit to come from someone botching a home repair after taking one of those classes at Home Depot.

And to end this post on a barely related thought: Who does the repairs at John Edwards’s estate? You would think that a contractor would have to be insane to risk the liability repairing any trial lawyer’s home.

Update: Greetings to all of you coming from Instapundit. I would invite you all to take a long look around, but this site is just now coming off hiatus.

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