Mike Rowe: Work Ethic Is Not Right-Wing Propaganda

Mike Rowe has rejected a critic’s premise that he is engaging in right-wing propaganda by “harping on” the importance of a work ethic and falsely claiming that many jobless individuals actually don’t want to work.

According to Mike Rowe in a response to a Facebook follower identified as Craig P., however, most people would rather not get up and morning and head to the office or other employment venue, if given the choice.

CBS News has previously reported that about 93 million Americans remain outside the labor force, a 36-year low in participation according to some economic estimates.

The former Dirty Jobs host on Discovery, Mike Rowe is currently starring in a similar reality show on CNN called Somebody’s Gotta Do It. You may have also recently seen him on TV as a pitchman for Ford trucks.

Despite the blue-collar focus of his TV work, Rowe used to sing with the Baltimore Opera as well as appear as an on-air host for QVC.

Rowe has long advised against going into student-loan hock for a four-year university art history degree or the equivalent instead of pursuing a good-paying job in the skilled trades. He started the mikeroweWorks Foundation that, among other things, awards scholarships to men and women who seek training at trade schools across the country. Rowe is on record as saying that “Many of the best opportunities that exist today require a skill, not a diploma.”

Parenthetically, any homeowner that has had occasion to hire a plumber, electrician, or another kind of hands-on contractor knows that these individuals make big bucks even for routine fixes.

Mike Rowe previously declared that it’s fundamentally unnecessary for a viable candidate for elective office, such as GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor, to possess a four-year college degree.

Applicants for the above-mentioned scholarships must sign a so-called S.W.E.A.T. (skill and work ethic aren’t taboo) pledge, and he also sells the personal responsibility commitment to anyone else for $12 as a fundraising mechanism.

On his Facebook page, Mike Rowe answered Craig P.’s inquiry by insisting the whole work ethic thing is not a partisan issue and that he basically dismisses the left-right, Democrat-Republican “never-ending dance” and media echo chamber.

“For the record, I don’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… 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 don’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 don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back, educating them for jobs that no longer exist.”

Mike Rowe’s commentary went on to push back against the notion that he was spewing right-wing propaganda, emphasizing in particular that his foundation is about putting people to work into the millions of blue-collar-type jobs that are going begging for lack of qualified applicants.

“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….In my travels, I’ve met a lot of hard-working individuals, and I’ve been singing their praises for the last 12 years. But I’ve seen nothing that would lead me to agree with your generalization. From what I’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?”

Mike Rowe further revealed that in addition to the necessary vocational skills and/or training, many applicants lack what he called soft skills, a deficit that is morphing into a national crisis in his opinion.

“…[T]he biggest under reported challenge in finding good help, (aside from the inability to ‘piss clean,’) is an overwhelming lack of ‘soft skills.’ That’s a polite way of saying that many applicants don’t tuck their shirts in, or pull their pants up, or look you in the eye, or say things like ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’… We’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.”

Mike Rowe concluded that his efforts focus on individuals rather than groups, i.e., “People willing to retool, retrain, and relocate. That doesn’t mean I have no empathy for those less motivated. It just means I’m more inclined to subsidize the cost of training for those who are. That shouldn’t be a partisan position, but if it is, I guess I’ll just have to live with it.”

Do you agree or disagree with Mike Rowe’s views on the American work ethic?

[Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment]