Mike Rowe has made a living showing the country what hard work is all about. Rowe has sent the message that there isn’t a job in existence that a person is “too good for.” But there are people out there who don’t like the message he is sending. They think that by pushing a hard work ethic on Americans, he is someone belittling people who don’t have a job. Someone recently complained on his Facebook page about his goal to get more people working.
A Facebook user named Craig P. told Rowe:
â€œYour constant harping on â€œwork ethicâ€ is growing tiresome. Just because someoneâ€™s poor doesnâ€™t mean theyâ€™re lazy. The unemployed want to work! And many of those who canâ€™t find work today, didnâ€™t have the benefit of growing up with parents like yours. How can you expect someone with no role model to qualify for one of your scholarships or sign your silly â€œSweat Pledge?â€ Rather than accusing people of not having a work-ethic, why not drop the right-wing propaganda and help them develop one?â€
Mike Rowe’s response was a lengthy one, but also powerful.
“Iâ€™m afraid youâ€™ve overestimated the reach of my foundation, as well as my ability to motivate people Iâ€™ve never met. For the record, I donâ€™t believe all poor people are lazy, any more than I believe all rich people are greedy. But I can understand why so many do.
Everyday on the news, liberal pundits and politicians portray the wealthy as greedy, while conservative pundits and politicians portray the poor as lazy. Democrats have become so good at denouncing greed, Republicans now defend it. And Republicans are so good at condemning laziness, Democrats are now denying it even exists. It’s a never ending dance that gets more contorted by the day.
A few weeks ago in Georgetown, President Obama accused Fox News of â€œperpetuating a false narrativeâ€ by consistently calling poor people â€œlazy.â€ Fox News denied the Presidentâ€™s accusation, claiming to have only criticized policies, not people. Unfortunately for Fox, The Daily Show has apparently gained access to the Internet, and after a ten-second google-search and a few minutes in the edit bay, John Stewart was on the air with a devastating montage of Fox personnel referring to the unemployed as â€œsponges,â€ â€œleeches,â€ â€œfreeloaders,â€ and â€œmooches.â€http://www.washingtonpost.com/â€¦/daily-shows-jon-stewart-buâ€¦/
Over the next few days, the echo chamber got very noisy. The Left howled about the bias at Fox and condemned the one-percent, while the Right shrieked about the bias at MSNBC and bemoaned the growing entitlement state. But through all the howling and shrieking, no one said a word about the millions of jobs that American companies are struggling to fill right now. No one talked the fact that most of those jobs donâ€™t require an expensive four-year degree. And no one mentioned the 1.2 trillion dollars of outstanding student loans, or the madness of lending money we donâ€™t have to kids who canâ€™t pay it back, educating them for jobs that no longer exist.
I started mikeroweWORKS to talk about these issues, and shine a light on a few million good jobs that no one seems excited about. But mostly, I wanted to remind people that real opportunity still exists for those individuals who are willing to work hard, learn a skill, and make a persuasive case for themselves. Sadly, you see my efforts as â€œright wing propaganda.â€ But why? Are our differences really political? Or is it something deeper? Something philosophical?
You wrote that, â€œpeople want to work.â€ In my travels, Iâ€™ve met a lot of hard-working individuals, and Iâ€™ve been singing their praises for the last 12 years. But Iâ€™ve seen nothing that would lead me to agree with your generalization. From what Iâ€™ve seen of the species, and what I know of myself, most people – given the choice – would prefer NOT to work. In fact, on Dirty Jobs, I saw Help Wanted signs in every state, even at the height of the recession. Is it possible you see the existence of so many unfilled jobs as a challenge to your basic understanding of what makes people tick?
Last week at a policy conference in Mackinac, I talked to several hiring managers from a few of the largest companies in Michigan. They all told me the same thing – the biggest under reported challenge in finding good help, (aside from the inability to â€œpiss clean,â€) is an overwhelming lack of â€œsoft skills.â€ Thatâ€™s a polite way of saying that many applicants donâ€™t tuck their shirts in, or pull their pants up, or look you in the eye, or say things like â€œpleaseâ€ and â€œthank you.â€ This is not a Michigan problem – this is a national crisis. Weâ€™re churning out a generation of poorly educated people with no skill, no ambition, no guidance, and no realistic expectations of what it means to go to work.
These are the people youâ€™re talking about Craig, and their number grows everyday. I understand you would like me to help them, but how? Iâ€™m not a mentor, and my foundation doesnâ€™t do interventions. Do you really want me to stop rewarding individual work ethic, just because I donâ€™t have the resources to assist those who donâ€™t have any? If Iâ€™m unable to help everyone, do you really want me to help no one?
My goals are modest, and theyâ€™ll remain that way. I donâ€™t focus on groups. I focus on individuals who are eager to do whatever it takes to get started. People willing to retool, retrain, and relocate. That doesnâ€™t mean I have no empathy for those less motivated. It just means Iâ€™m more inclined to subsidize the cost of training for those who are. That shouldnâ€™t be a partisan position, but if it is, I guess Iâ€™ll just have to live with it.
PS. The Sweat Pledge wasnâ€™t supposed to be partisan either, but itâ€™s probably annoyed as many people as its inspired. I still sell them for $12, and the money still goes to mikeroweWORKS. You can get one here, even if youâ€™re not applying for a scholarship. http://profoundlydisconnected.com/foundation/poster/
PPS. If youâ€™d like Craig, Iâ€™ll autograph one for you!
Now THIS is a message we need to be sharing with the country!