While opining about the recent push by leftists to raise minimum wage laws, the hosts of Fox & Friends responded dismissively to service industry work and service industry workers. On July 23, co-host Brian Kilmeade explained that he had worked multiple service industry jobs over the course of his life. He then asserted:
It’s one of the best jobs you could have when you’re breaking in. You don’t even expect that check. It’s almost a surprise when you get a $60 or $70 check at the end of the week. Because you work hard, you get great tips, and if you’re good, guess what, other restaurants want you. They will take you, offer you better jobs. And if your one job doesn’t pay enough, guess what you do, you get another job. That’s what you do in your 20s. Having two jobs, part-time jobs, while going to school is something people have done since the turn of the last century. And now all of a sudden people want to make that job something you can make a career out of while destroying small businesses. And those owners work about 60 hours a week. And now you’re telling them their labor force has got to make more, maybe, than they do? Forget it.
Commenting on the idea of minimum wage jobs being a career, Ainsley Earhardt added:
It’s meant to help you get your start. We were all in high school, we were in college, when we had these waiting — when I was waiting tables. Unless you’re at a very fine restaurant, most of those people, at the fine restaurants, that is their career. But they make tons of money. If you’re working at a McDonald’s or a small little restaurant where you’re making tips, you’re right. If you’re nice to the people, you make a lot of money.
Fox & Friends hosts say there’s no need to raise the tipped minimum wage: “If you’re working at a McDonald’s or a small little restaurant where you’re making tips, … if you’re nice to the people, you make a lot of money” https://t.co/4PjsOASy5H
— Media Matters (@mmfa) July 23, 2019
Look, I’m not necessarily opposed to the substance of the Fox & Friends hosts’ arguments; it’s the rhetorical package that I find disturbing and counterproductive. I believe, having lived it myself, that the arrogantly dismissive tone of Kilmeade and Earhardt’s words will serve to further push those who could benefit from conservative policies into the arms of the deceptive left. During my time as a service industry worker, hearing lectures about how I simply needed to work harder when faced with economic woes only served to solidify my leftist proclivities. I knew how hard I worked; I knew how many hours a week I logged at my multiple jobs. Condescending friends and family members may have had held to the correct policy solutions, but their messaging at times was atrocious.
Service industry work is stressful, often physically demanding, and those who do the work are frequently viewed with derision and treated with condescension. Many times, service industry workers are struggling to make ends meet while attempting to put themselves through school or, as in many cases, to support and feed a family. Kilmeade is correct; a large percentage of service industry workers have multiple jobs. What he fails to acknowledge, though, is that there are many times when the stresses of life are overwhelming to industrious service industry workers. When those who have successfully navigated the system and have landed in a position of wealth simply shrug off the concerns and stresses of their current situation, industry workers will respond poorly.
I am on record as being opposed to government-mandated minimum wage laws. I do not believe that forcing small business owners to pay more than the market can bear is good for anybody, least of all for those who are living from meager paycheck to meager paycheck. Conservative voices need to do a better job of explaining to service industry workers how free market policies can enable them to climb the economic ladder. I understand that that doesn’t make for good sound bites nor does it play to those already living in McMansions and enjoying the fruits of capitalism, but it’s the strength of conservatism.
Defending the free market should be far less about standing up for the rights of those who are already reaping the benefits of the American Dream and far more about demonstrating to those who are presently struggling that wealth isn’t a zero-sum game. Instead of defending and arguing over the existing economic pies, conservatives should be talking about how our policies enable “pie makers” to produce more and more economic pies to be enjoyed by a growing segment of the population. In contrast, if allowed to have their way, leftists will ensure that service industry workers have fewer jobs, and, eventually, all of the economic pies will be gobbled up by the few who are in power. That’s the message Fox & Friends should be preaching.
Not everyone who works in the service industry is doing so because their middle-class parents want them to help pay for college. For many of them, the service industry is currently their only option — either because of their own poor choices or the poor choices of their parents. Shaming them for their economic struggles by waving it off because they simply need to work more jobs or be nicer is not a message that will be well-received.