I was watching Mary Coughlan on Q&A this week and since I'm of roughly a similar vintage to Mary it struck me when she was talking about upskilling and the knowledge based economy that she's never really had to do any of those things herself. And not just her. Just look at the work background of the members of the cabinet since 2002.
Bertie Ahern - Bertie was a book keeper for the Mater before become a TD.
Mary Harney - was very briefly a secondary school teacher between her gradution in 1976 and her appointment to the Seanad by Jack Lynch in 1977.
Michael McDowell - a barrister since 1974. Not a lot of make and do in the old law library.
Mary Coughlan - Very briefly worked as a social worker after college before taking her seat in a bye election.
John O'Donoghue - A local solicitor
Dermot Ahern - A local solicitor
Brian Cowen - A local solicitor
Noel Dempsey - Career guidance teacher
Mary Hanafin - secondary school teacher
Micheál Martin - secondary school teacher.
Séamus Brennan - an accountant
Martin Cullen - worked as a sales manager for a wine company. Seriously a wine company!
Dick Roche - Masters Degree in Public Administration. Roche worked as a public servant at the Departments of Posts & Telegraphs, Transport & Power, Finance and at the Department of Economic Planning & Development. In 1978 he was appointed lecturer in Public Administration and Public Finance at UCD. A man so wedded to being a public servant it is hard to imagine him ever having to make something himself.
Willie O'Dea - O'Dea worked as a barrister and an accountant, and lectured at University College Dublin and the University of Limerick well really NIHE Limerick.
Charlie McCreevy - did Commerce at University College Dublin and went on to become a chartered accountant
Éamon Ó Cuív - was manager of Gaeltacht Co-operative, a company involved in agricultural services including timber milling, tourism and cultural development.
Michael Smith - Farmer, so at least he knows something about getting his hands dirty.
Joe Walsh - Walsh was a researcher in the National Dairy Research Centre at Moorepark and ended up as Managing Director of Strand Dairies in Clonakilty.
So it is only the last 3 that actually know what it is like to make or produce something for a living. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.