Why Donald Trump's pick for secretary of labor should probably stick to making burgers.
In a characteristically Trumpy move, Donald Trump has nominated Andrew Puzder, CEO of fast-food chains Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, to be secretary of labor.
Of the United States of America, that is.
As someone who has written extensively about the intersection of burgers and public policy, this naturally seemed like an exciting move to me — at first. The genius responsible for bringing us the Southwest Patty Melt helming the government department tasked with regulating interactions between unions and management in the workplace? How could that possibly not work out in everyone's best interest?
Then I started digging into his record, and, like much of the rest of the world, reached an inescapable conclusion: Puzder is really, really good at his primary job — making delicious, ludicrous stacks of grilled meat.
It's a job he should probably stick to instead of trying to run the government agency tasked with sticking up for America's fry cooks, teachers, steelworkers, and cashiers, which he is ridiculously unqualified to do.
Puzder does have more experience than 99.9% of Americans at selling otherworldly beef sandwiches.
Here's a taste of just how good he is at that particular job:
Carl's Jr. is the "Batman Begins" to In-N-Out's "Dark Knight" — not quite as mind-blowing, but also the one your West Coast friends are slightly less annoying about — if only because Hardee's, which is the same, exists back East. But — to give Puzder the credit he's due — that doesn't mean it doesn't serve a damn good burger. Far from it.
The main draw? Carl's Jr.'s burgers are gigantic. Indeed, the chain's signature offering is the Thickburger — for those who prefer their meat sandwiches turgid and rock-hard.
Innuendo aside, the burger really is thick and has lots of cheese and unidentifiable fatty sauce on it, and you should go eat it right now. It's that good.
Carl's Jr.'s less intimidating offerings are almost as worth it, too. The California Classic Double Cheeseburger is a pretty decent imitation of In-N-Out's Double Double, and the Super Star with Cheese is also two burgers on one bun, and hey, two burgers!
Also Carl's Jr. has some salads. Just thought you should know.
Delicious though those burgers may be, here's why Puzder's experience — shockingly — doesn't really translate into his new government position.
Would that the secretary of labor's sole job was to run the White House grill.
As it turns out, however, the primary function of the position is mediating conflicts between businesses and workers. With the Commerce and Treasury departments already on hand to look out for business, the Labor Department is generally understood to be an advocate for ... well, labor.
From his record, it certainly looks like Puzder doesn't really like workers all that much — at least, not human ones.
The evidence? His desire to replace as many as possible with machines.
"[Machines] are always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case," Puzder said in a March interview with Business Insider, referring to the totally irritating problem of employees suffering debilitating injuries, taking time off to see their families, or having to deal with abusive coworkers through official channels. (Being a CEO is rough!)
For the humans Puzder does employ, he's on record as adamantly opposed to raising their wages — a position he hasn't exactly tried to hide, what with the numerous public statements and op-eds he's written to that effect, not to mention his decision to serve on the board of an organization dedicated to never ever doing so.
To Puzder's credit, he frames this (kinda-sorta) as coming from a place of concern for his employees' well-being, albeit bluntly, asking: "Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?"
There's certainly a case to be made against a $15 minimum wage. There's evidence it helps workers in some places like Seattle and evidence it doesn't in others like upstate New York. But for Puzder to claim that he's solely at the mercy of oppressive market forces and, as CEO, has no agency in deciding how many people he employs at what rate is a little ridiculous. Sorry, Sally! Guess we fired you and replaced you with a kiosk. How did that happen? Please see the Invisible Hand — he'll be guiding your exit interview.
Puzder's companies are also notorious for ads that feature women and burgers in which both are granted a roughly equal level of humanity.
Highlights include this Super Bowl ad from 2015, which features model Charlotte McKinney striding through a farmers market boobs-first while the male vegetable hawkers stare slobberingly after her, presumably hoping to get her attention so they can remind her to buy the artichokes that were on her list..
"I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it's very American," Puzder told Entrepreneur in 2015.
And yes, eating a burger in a bikini is a good idea! Burgers are sloppy, and in a bikini, there's less fabric to stain with chipotle mayo. But Puzder seems to be getting at, well, something else here — referring to Carl's Jr. as a brand for "young hungry guys," something normal people totally say that doesn't at all make you wonder what they think about when they masturbate.
As for how Puzder thinks of advertising for women? Well, they can "date" those "hungry guys," who, presumably, fantasize about finally locking down a hot girlfriend to melt cheese on.
This weirdness would all be pretty funny if Puzder hadn't been accused of abusing his ex-wife in filings from his 1989 divorce. But taken together, it all stacks up in a rather alarming way.
Like most people on Earth, Puzder isn't all bad news.
He does support immigration reform and genuinely seems to care about the well-being of his company and his shareholders. But in general, his distrust of modest regulation and higher wages and his dismissal of workers' right to work make him a pretty absurd fit for a job designed to safeguard those very important things.
He is, however, the perfect guy to continue focusing his full-time energy on delivering massive, carb-laden sodium bricks into our national gut.
So do America a solid. Call your senator and urge them to compel Puzder to stick to his day job.
The country — and your stomach — will be better for it.