Are the trades becoming respectable again?

During the 2008 Presidential elections, it was the cartoon image on JoethePlumber.com that got America's turn-of-the-millennium perception of the trades just right, complete with pot belly, schlumpy pants, blue cap and "plumber crack." (Now that the one Joe the Plumber is famous, the site's been remodeled.) For decades, investment bankers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, and "knowledge workers" were respected as the only sensible aspirational careers of the bourgeoisie.

It's not for nothing we call the rest of the U.S. the "working class." Knowledge work is seen as, not quite work, but a higher calling, the just use of one's fancy college degree; and, preferably, one's collection of graduate degrees and certifications.