One of the themes we’ve explored for some time now on Imagine Athena is how utopian dreams turn into nightmares. It is much better to deal with things as they are in reality than it is to pursue grand ideological visions, which are often more the product of wishful thinking than solid fact. The political quest to nudge every high school graduate into pursuing an academic degree is a good example of this. In the United States and Western Europe, huge numbers of young people now take on astronomical amounts of government-backed debt to attain degrees of sometimes dubious value. Mike Rowe, the producer of the American television series Dirty Jobs, which aired from 2005-2012, has been a vocal critic of this policy. He has long argued that, nowadays, instead of making the best of the opportunities that are available, we are encouraged to live our lives according to a template: a fixed notion of what the ideal existence is. But rather than achieving that we end up living identical lives devoid of creativity or originality. The result: people become unhappy when they don’t live up to that ideal and thousands of well paid vocational jobs go unfilled every year.