Public Square

Video: Mike Rowe on Wealth Envy

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Mike Rowe, the former host of Dirty Jobs, recently dismissed worries over income inequality on CNN. In an interview with Erin Burnett, he said,

The idea that everybody who’s poor, and everybody who’s in the middle, and everybody who’s wealthy stays there their whole life — that I don’t believe. I think there’s a lot of moving back and forth. And I think it’s dangerous to say, “This group is always going to be in this spot.”

He also spoke out against the idea of “wealth envy,” saying most of the people he worked with on Dirty Jobs didn’t even have time to think about who had more and who has less. He said,

I’ve spent ten years crawling through sewers, painting bridges, sexing chickens, milking camels. I work with people who don’t have time to talk about who has it worse and who has it better. The jobs on Dirty Jobs, to a T, were opportunities. And that was the big lesson. That’s what people looked at. It wasn’t about there’s more over here, there’s less over there. It was about, “What can I do to advance faster?”

We should approach the income inequality debate carefully as Christians, in a way that empathizes with those in minimum wage positions, but without attacking the wealthy. We can do this is by modeling Rowe in guiding the debate toward a more encouraging and hopeful conversation about equal human dignity, income mobility, and economic opportunity.

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