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In Praise of Andy Puzder and Crummy Jobs

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Trump’s selection of Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc. (which owns Carl’s, Jr., and Hardee’s), is great news to those of us who think that, to the extent it should exist at all (which is zero), the Department of Labor should be concerned with getting more people laboring. Instead, under Obama, it seems focused on ensuring that as few people as possible actually work. The liberals’ whinefest about Puzder – as opposed to the liberals’ whinefest about every other Trump appointee – is based on the fact that Puzder’s career has been centered on the kind of jobs that provide the foundation for careers: entry-level, minimum wage gigs that teach you the basics of how to be employed. Puzder endangers the liberal’s scheme to turn those jobs into permanent gigs for people who don’t want to improve their skills and subsidize them with mandated artificially high wages, confident that these serfs will forever vote Democrat. 

It’s particularly relevant to me because my first job was at the Carl’s, Jr., store in Foster City, California, in 1981 making $3.10 an hour. See, I had a 1973 Mustang with a 302 cubic inch engine that guzzled 79? per gallon gas while pumping out a wheezy 150 horsepower, and I had to fill it up as well as cart my annoying brother around since my mom was off prosecuting scumbags. Hideously monstrous due to their mid-Pennsylvania upbringing, they refused to give me free money. No worky, no drivey.

Was I flipping burgers? I wish. I started out on lot, which meant I walked around with one of those long handled dustpans and little brooms cleaning up after you slobs. I also hauled garbage out to the dumpster, cleaned tables, and mopped out the toilets, an experience that gave rise to a mystery that has haunted me ever since: How does a woman miss

I eventually graduated to making burgers – I can still whip up a mouthwatering Famous Star with cheese in my sleep. I also ran the register, learning how to deal with all manner of people, from lonely old folks to frazzled moms to angry jerks to bewildered stoners rolling in five minutes before closing wanting everything on the menu, and all as special orders.

I later worked at Denny’s as a busboy; one night my seventh grade math teacher stumbled out of the bar (they had bars back then) smelling of cheap booze and ruined dreams. Then there was a gig at Marine World frying chicken, a long time slaving away at McDonald’s, and then an interesting period at Dollar-Rent-A-Car at San Francisco International. It was all college kids on break and convicts on parole; my pal Clyde, who looked a little like Manson, taught me how to make a shiv. 

I can’t say they were great jobs or particularly fulfilling, but they made me some spending money while teaching me not only how to work but introducing a fairly sheltered suburban kid to all sorts of interesting people. I also worked under many female supervisors. Bluestocking “Well, I never!” liberals like Big Chief Margaret Dumont Warren are all in a tizzy because Puzder’s company uses hot models to sell burgers in an unrepentant celebration of male heterosexuality. But, like all liberal pearl-clutching spasms, it’s a lie – Puzder’s company has given leadership opportunities and management training to tens of thousands of women.

I don’t think Andy Puzder will be too upset with me when I say both that I didn’t particularly like my job at Carl’s , Jr., and that I am intensely grateful for the experience. First jobs aren’t supposed to be fun. They aren’t supposed to fulfill you. They are supposed to teach you how to work and put a few bucks in your pocket while allowing businesses to provide their products. I got paid minimum wage only because the government required it; I wasn’t worth $3.10 an hour, just as someone not being paid $15 an hour already isn’t worth $15 an hour. Puzder is right to oppose an artificially high minimum wage. Crummy first jobs are supposed to be just that – first jobs. If you are trying to feed a family on minimum wage, you frankly shouldn’t have a family yet because you can’t afford one yet

Especially in California, where the idiots in Sacramento seem determined to substitute their bizarre ideology for the economic truths of the market, you go to a fast food place and you often see adults working. That’s terrible. Where are the young people? Probably off doing “activities” designed to impress admissions officers but foregoing the lessons they need after they leave their college safe spaces. Let me tell you about one Ivy League law student wanting a clerk position at my law firm. She showed up late for her initial interview, but got a pass because we had just moved offices. When she showed up late for the second, one of my partners met her at the reception area and told her that her interview, and her clerkship, were canceled. In a business where failure has real consequences, I don’t have time to teach grown women the lessons they should have learned as a fry cook at Burger King.

I didn’t start out a name partner and trial lawyer, or an Amazon top-selling thriller novelist, or a colonel. I started out a lot kid, a joke writer for bar trivia games, and as a private. I am glad I did, and I am equally glad I no longer have to be any of those things. The great thing about Andy Puzder is that he realizes the proper role of entry level jobs – and it isn’t to let people tread water forever by taking advantage of an artificially inflated minimum wage that forces employers to pay them more than they are worth.

Sometimes my crummy jobs were fun, but most of the time they were just … work. And that’s a huge and vital life lesson. Sadly, it’s one most spoiled millennials won’t learn. Hopefully, Andy Puzder can help change that because everyone should be able to look back on a crummy job from a better one, and smile.

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