Starve People Like 'Dogs' To Make Them Take Crappy Jobs, Laura Ingraham, Bar Rescue Guy Agree
On Thursday night, Laura Ingraham invited "Bar Rescue" host Jon Taffer on to discuss the so-called "labor shortage" that is somehow only affecting jobs that do not pay very well and which involve a substantial amount of risk during a pandemic.
The problem? Well it's certainly not that servers only make $2.13 an hour before tips (federally, states vary) or that it's hard to get a lot of tips in a climate where people are still pretty hesitant about going out or there's no guarantee that things won't have to shut down again entirely because we can't get Ingraham's target audience to get vaccinated. It's also not that most schools haven't yet gone back to full time and people have no childcare and can't afford to get it. Nope. It is that the people who should be waiting on us are sitting at home collecting unemployment checks for far more than they would make otherwise. Because they have no work ethic and are lazy. Like dogs.
Laura Ingraham: "What if we just cut off the unemployment? Hunger is a pretty powerful thing." Bar Rescue guy: "Th… https://t.co/vJwEn2o8Vg— Justin Baragona (@Justin Baragona) 1628823955.0
Taffer: If you get $800 a week unemployment benefits, and you live with a partner who is also getting $800 a week unemployment benefits — $1600 a week, Laura! $83,000 a year for that household in unemployment benefits. The median income in America is only $63,000. We're incentivizing people to stay home. What if we gave that additional unemployment benefit to employers to incentivize people to go to work?
Just gonna pop in here real quick to note that $63,000 (or about that) is the median income for a household with two working people. The median income for one person is around $35,000 — which, notably, is at least $8,000 less than the living wage literally anywhere in the entire United States and $10,000 less than literally every state that is not Kentucky.
Map showing the living wage in each state
What could possibly go wrong?
Taffer's suggestion of giving money to employers so they could pay people more was a little too socialist for Laura Ingraham, who suggested starving people (only figuratively!) in hopes of motivating them to be more willing to work for starvation wages.
Ingraham: Well, what if we just cut off the unemployment [condescending laugh]? I mean, hunger is a pretty powerful thing. I don't mean physical hunger, cause people who truly are in need need help. I'm talking about people who can work but refuse to work. But the government is literally putting anvils in many ways, on people's shoulders, either through the mandates, regulations and now through free money, which obviously, the piper eventually has to be paid.
Jon, Jon — I wanna ask you about this idea of life-work balance. Because look, no one wants to miss their kids growing up. You stay in your office your whole life, you never see your family. That's really important. However. Have we taken that a step too far when you think about a lot of the millennials talking about "Oh, I need time for self-care." I don't know why I'm harping on that tonight [condescending laugh], but the whole self-care movement is a little — I mean, my mother's not with us anymore, but she worked from the time she was 12, during the Depression, if she heard the self-care thing I think her head would explode.
Well, first of all, Laura — child labor is bad. Let's start off with that. We don't want people working from the age of 12 anymore, because that was a bad thing. The Depression, similarly, was not a great time for people. No one looks at the era of child labor or the Depression and thinks "Now that's how you do things."
The idea that this is something new, however, is ridiculous — practically the entire labor movement was partially founded on a right to have an okay, non-miserable life. The 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike is frequently referred to as the Bread and Roses strike, based on a poem with the line "Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes; Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses" — the point being that people deserve not just basic things, but occasional nice things as well. Similarly, the slogan for the eight hour work day was "Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will."
Taffer, however, definitely thought she was onto something here and suggested that the trick may just be to treat restaurant workers like dogs.
Taffer: You know I think that's right. I have a friend in the military, who trains military dogs, Laura. And they only feed a military dog at night, because a hungry dog is an obedient dog. Well if we're not causing people to be hungry — to work — then we're providing them with all the meals they need sitting at home. I'm completely with you, Laura, these benefits make absolutely no sense to us. On top of the impact of not getting employees and not being able to run our businesses — in my industry, meat prices are up 10 percent, chicken prices are up 50 percent.
Ingraham: It's gonna kill business. That's the next shoe to drop.
Yes, you read/heard that right. Dude compared workers to dogs who must be taught to be obedient through being treated cruelly. Oh gee, imagine not wanting to work for this guy for very little money!
Here's the thing. Unemployment is going way down — we hit a new pandemic-era low last month. We went from 4 million long-term unemployed people to 3.4 million in one month, which is an incredibly steep drop. Many of the businesses that are still experiencing a labor shortage are businesses that simply don't want to pay people enough to work at them. These are largely service industry jobs that traditionally do not pay people anywhere near the amount they need to survive and are also among the most risky jobs to be taking during a pandemic.
One of the ways in which the restaurant industry is hurting is that highly trained chefs have figured out that they can make a whole lot more money working for crazy rich people as private chefs than they can at even some of the nicest restaurants. The average pay for an executive chef in New York is $56,020, while the average pay for a private chef anywhere in the United States is $86,046. Plus there is the added bonus of not having to work in a restaurant.
There's also the fact that a lot of people in the service industry took the time off during the pandemic to take classes or other steps towards helping them get jobs that paid better. In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that employment had "bounced back beyond pre-pandemic levels in many other sectors, including warehousing and storage, management and technical consulting, and insurance and finance," suggesting that a lot of the people previously working in restaurants had simply moved on to better careers.
For years, the Right has been insisting that the only people who work jobs that don't pay a living wage are teenagers and college students working for "pocket money," people who are categorically not relying on that money to survive, and using that as an excuse for why those jobs don't need to pay more or why we shouldn't raise the minimum wage. Now they are mad that people are no longer relying on these jobs to survive and suggesting that the only way to get them back into those jobs, back to earning money for restaurant owners, back to providing a service for patrons, is to literally starve them out. Nice.
The things keeping people from working in the bar and restaurant industry right now are not things that can be fixed by cutting off unemployment funds or by treating workers like dogs. In fact, that seems to have been the problem in the first place.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse