Erick Erickson, the conservative pundit and former CNN political analyst, offered his opinion on the fast food workers strikes that hit about 150 cities nationwide Thursday, and his opinion was not a kind one.
As thousands of fast food workers engaged in acts of civil disobedience Thursday, demanding a raise in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, Erickson — serving as guest host on the Rush Limbaugh radio show — told the fast food workers, “you’ve probably failed at life.”
“The minimum wage is mostly people who failed at life and high school kids,” Erickson said on the nationally syndicated radio show. “Seriously, look. I don’t mean to be ugly with you people. If you’re a 30-something-year-old person and you’re making minimum wage you probably failed at life.”
Erickson dismissed the notion that people stuck in minimum wage jobs may have come from unfortunate circumstances, or been unlucky enough be looking for jobs at a time when better-paying jobs simply are not available.
A study earlier this year showed that the job recovery since the 2008 recession has come almost entirely in the low-wage sector, mainly fast food, as high-and-middle earning jobs have largely disappeared.
“Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end — the job gains there are absolutely phenomenal,” Michael Evangelist, of the National Employment Law Center, explained. “If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?”
But Erickson refused to acknowledge the economic facts.
“It is not that life dealt you a bad hand,” opined the former CNN commentator. “Life does not deal you cards. It’s that you failed at life.”
Not content to make his point simply via the airwaves, Erickson then posted a tweet, also condemning minimum wage workers for having “failed at life.”
If you’re a 30-something making minimum wage and blocking traffic to demand a $15 minimum wage you have failed at life.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) September 5, 2014
Erickson’s tweet elicited a series of like-minded responses from fellow conservatives.
@EWErickson I agree.. It’s a clear sign they don’t want to try to better them selfs, and work for something give me attitude!!
— Mr. Remington! (@stryker350) September 5, 2014
@EWErickson How do they stay so fat if they are starving?
— Neil Kille (@NeilKille) September 5, 2014
Though even some of Erickson’s fans were offended by the seeming callousness of his remarks.
@EWErickson That’s a terrible thing to say. I stopped listening to you on Rush after you started that. Uncool, unchristian, and weird
— Michael Fry (@PrometheusAdvoc) September 5, 2014
According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in March, there are now about 260,000 college graduates holding minimum wage jobs. Another 200,000 minimum wage workers graduated from two-year junior colleges.
The actual numbers, as the political site Think Progress noted, are likely to be even higher, because the BLS report took into account only workers making the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In the 21 states where the minimum wage is higher, there are likely thousands, or tens of thousands more Americans with higher education degrees working minimum wage jobs such as fast food.
Two Democratic congressmembers, Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota, issued a statement calling the Erickson remarks “degrading” and “out of touch,” and suggesting that he interview some fast food workers on the radio, because, “maybe then he will learn what real work is.”