Mike Rowe Defends His Emphasis on “Work Ethic”

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Mike Rowe
via Facebook.

Baltimore’s own Mike Rowe, television host and constant work-ethic harper-onner, was recently called out for his “constant harping on ‘work ethic.'” His response on Facebook is going viral.

In his response, Rowe quotes a message, apparently in full, from one Craig P.

Hey Mike

Your constant harping on “work ethic” is growing tiresome. Just because someone’s poor doesn’t mean they’re lazy. The unemployed want to work! And many of those who can’t find work today, didn’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 “Sweat Pledge?” Rather than accusing people of not having a work-ethic, why not drop the right-wing propaganda and help them develop one?

Craig P.

Rowe’s response is verbose and aggressively friendly. It begins, “Hi Craig, and Happy Sunday!” and it ends with an offer to send Craig P. an autographed copy of his “Sweat Pledge” poster. (It’s reminiscent of his side of the Rowe-Simon-Woods argument from November.)

In the middle, Rowe argues that, far from “right-wing propaganda,” the efforts of his mikeroweWORKS foundation to support the blue collar trades and “shine a light on a few million good jobs that no one seems excited about” have no partisan intention. He also disputes the idea that, in general, people want to work.

Craig P. makes himself a pretty good straw man for Rowe to tear down, suggesting that Rowe “drop the right-wing propaganda” and help people develop a work ethic. How typical of a liberal to ask that a successful person do even more to help people who can’t seem to help themselves!

On the other hand, as pointed out in the Washington Post, Rowe’s Sweat Pledge and philosophy on work ethic have clear political resonance whether he likes it or not. Awarding scholarships to trade schools might not be particularly partisan, but the stated philosophy behind mikeroweWORKS is. For example, the third declaration of the Sweat Pledge, which all scholarship applicants must sign, reads: “I believe there is no such thing as a ‘bad job.’ I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it’s up to me to make the best of them.”

No bad jobs? No such thing? Unless agitating for better wages, safer conditions, and an eight-hour day counts as “mak[ing] the best of” one’s job, then this is pretty anti-labor and pro-capital. In other words, it’s political.

In other Mike Rowe news, the celebrity appeared in a MyBaltimore promotional spot in May. Here it is, in case you missed it:



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2 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Obrien, I read and reread this and I am missing the message, are you supporting or criticizing Mike Rowe?

    • Kurt, I support Mike Rowe’s efforts to promote trades and subsidize education through scholarships. (And I think the message from Craig P. ends with an unfair request.) On the other hand, I dispute Rowe’s claim that there’s nothing inherently political about the “by-your-bootstraps” philosophy that his foundation is pushing.

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