In an interview with Dave Rubin’s “Rubin Report” on Thursday, former “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe expressed concern about what language and terminology in the age of COVID-19 could do, psychologically, to Americans and their orientation towards work.
Specifically, Rowe said that labeling some workers “essential” and others not was bound to cause unforeseen problems down the line. He said that some on the left were to blame for spreading a belief that work is only important insofar that it brings in a paycheck – a belief he says undermines one of the most important elements of human life.
“The way it’ll happen here is people like AOC and others who genuinely, or maybe not-so-genuinely, believe that work is fundamentally another expression for drudgery, are going to make those points. They’re going to reduce it to something that’s purely transactional,” Rowe said. “That’s the first step, and if you only look at what you do as a means to make money, then you’re not an interesting person, okay? It’s such a one-dimensional way to look at something that should, in my view and oftentimes does, define us.
“It’s the thing we choose to do with the most conscious chunk of our life, and so to reduce it to a paycheck is dumb,” Rowe continued. “Obviously, there’s a giant transactional element involved in it, but there’s so much more.”
Rowe then addressed what he sees as the issue with labeling some workers “essential” while basically telling others that their jobs don’t matter to society.
“I’m amazed at how we’ve taken 35 million people and deemed them ‘un-essential.’ That, to me, is something I reckon we’re gonna look back on with great linguistic embarrassment,” he said.
“People are coming to terms with the fact that their vocations don’t matter in the eyes of virtually everyone who has a show to host because in our well-intended enthusiasm to celebrate the essential workers, we’ve done a thing we always do with the language – and I am not a politically correct person, at least I try not to be – but language does matter,” he continued.
Rowe said that we’ve long divided jobs into “higher” jobs and “lower” ones, a stratification that has had “breathtaking” consequences.
“We’re doing it now with the very heart of peoples’ identities, and we’re doing it around this simple word,” he said. “We’re not meaning to do it, but you watch, it’s gonna come back over the net with a lot of topspin. People are already pissed off about it, I just don’t think they quite understand why.”
In a punditry-focused media world where so often you hear the same boring opinions from everyone on the right and the same boring opinions from everyone on the left, Rowe always brings a fresh perspective to whatever is happening in our culture. And we don’t doubt that he’s right about the damage we’re doing to the American worker’s psyche with these meaningless terms we’re thoughtlessly throwing around. When sitting home and collecting federal unemployment benefits becomes a viable moral choice as opposed to going to work and being productive…well, that’s just what the Democrats love to see.