Charlotte Hays

While being interviewed by Parade magazine, President and Mrs. Obama said that they would like for their daughters to have the experience of working at minimum wage jobs. Hear! Hear!

In his wise book, The Curmudgeon’s Guide for Getting Ahead, Charles Murray advises the gilded youth of today, more isolated from what Episcopalians used to call “all sorts and conditions of men” than their counterparts in previous generations, to seek out summer jobs that will introduce them to people they might not ordinarily get to know. Such jobs can be transformative. “Once you have been a server in a restaurant,” Murray writes, “you will never again look at dining in a restaurant as you did before you were a server.”

The target audience for Murray’s book is the kind of young person who has excellent educational credentials and is more likely to land a summer job in a think tank or on Capitol Hill or as personal assistant to a Hollywood mogul than at a McDonald’s—in other words, the Obama daughters a few years hence.

It must be noted that Sasha and Malia's Dad has a very limited view of people who work at jobs outside his own golden orbit. “Every little girl I meet out there,” President Obama told Parade, “I think about Malia and Sasha, and the notion that they’d be treated differently, trapped, not paid enough, having to settle for a raw deal on the job, having to scramble between taking care of kids, taking care of an aging parent, being single moms like my mom was and going to school and work at the same time, then having to come home and cook.”

If Malia and Sasha go into their minimum wage jobs with open hearts and minds, they can learn a great deal and maybe even help Dad get a better picture of life in these United States.

First, I hope Sasha and Malia will notice that most workers the Obama daughters meet are glad to have their jobs, which are becoming scarcer and scarcer thanks to Dad’s economic policies. Many of their colleagues will use the skills acquired at these jobs to move up the ladder to a better paying job.


Charlotte Hays

Director of Cultural Programs at the Independent Women's Forum.