Newt Gingrich Proposes Radical Change in Labor Laws

Monday, December 05, 2011

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says we need a radical proposal to "change America's culture of poverty," and put children to work. He advocates allowing kids as young as nine to replace school janitors. Gingrich thinks this approach would not only teach good work ethic to children in poor communities, but also help them earn a wage for their families.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute; and Pedro Noguera is a sociologist at NYU.

Comments [14]

Giovanni from Michigan

Newt is simply proposing that children can have the option. Not every child will jump at the chance to clean the school, but what's the harm paying children who DO want to earn a little money? Not every child is born in a family that has money to spend. Comparing this to old child labor or slavery, as many people do, is just ignorant.
We aren't removing safety laws protecting workers, there could be strict rules like there are for teenagers younger than 18. (can only work 40 hours a week, with school hours counted as work hours, so it's comes to around 6-8)

People condemn this saying it "takes away from their studies" but yet turn around and sign their kids up for 25 different sports and after school activities.

We glorify sports and cry bloody murder when we try to get some money in kids pockets doing MINIMAL but productive work.

Even if the conditions were somehow returned to those of the early industrial revolution, as again many seem to think, what's stopping these kids from quitting?

Dec. 06 2011 09:22 AM

Thanks to Charles for pointing out the progressive media's slight-of-hand.
It is "radical" for a child to work a few hours at their school winning the admiration of her/his peers and adults alike but not radical to saddle them with a $15 trillion dollar debt while our President goes on still another extended vacation this year.

Dec. 05 2011 12:00 PM

The Takeaway presumes that Newt Gingrich has proposed something "radical." That's The Takeaway's terminology. Radical.

Presumably, what The Takeaway deems to be "radical" is a change in child labor laws.

But no one mentions what the change(s) might be. No one tells us what, if anything, is really "radical." I truly don't know. If the proposal (as I understand it) is to introduce young children to small amounts of part-time work, much of which would be related to their own schools, for small amounts of money, I cannot imagine what would be so "radical" about that. I'd like to know, but my presumption is that as soon as The Takeaway is finished labeling Gingrich as a "radical," the producers will regard their task as completed, and move on to the next character assasination of the next Republican candidate.

Dec. 05 2011 11:45 AM
Karen from Montana

The idea of having children do janitorial work is just plain wrong. First is the assumption that there is no work ethic in poor families. There are plenty of poor families that would love to work- if they just had the opportunity. Secondly, doing so would cause the layoff of thousands of already hard working adults. And having done janitorial work, I can say that it is difficult, some times dangerous, labor and involves exposure to toxic chemicals. I'd rather see poor kids in after school programs helping them with homework and teaching them to go to college and get a good education for the jobs of the future. We don't need more janitors.

Dec. 05 2011 09:46 AM
David Lightstone

There are dumb ideas and there are dumber ideas. Why the new media starts to jump up and down as thought a dumb idea was a good idea is just beyond my comprehension.

The efforts to improve the lives of the downtrotten have had their share of dumb ideas. This often being achieved by strategies which serve to reduce the cost of funding public schools.

Mr Gingrich's suggestion that students (I assume by this he means elementary school students) have internships in their schools is but another example of a dumb idea

It is on par with a cynical suggestion made many years ago by the Ronald Regan. At the time he was trying to either to defund the school lunch program or provide a distraction so as to prevent the news media from attempting to addess an issue. The public outrage was the distraction.

Mr Gingrich's suggestion is little more than another such distraction. The covert implication being - you can't find a job in this economy because you are unprepared.

Oh yes, to quote Ronald Regan - "Ketsup is a vegtable"

Mr Gingrich's suggestion that

Dec. 05 2011 09:32 AM

A good example where a common sense suggestion by Gingrich produces hysterical and sophist howls from the left. How will a kid who earns some money for a few hours in their school stop them from going to college?
Perhaps they will learn the value of a dollar before they sign on to huge college loan. Perhaps a kid making some money will be considered the cool thing to the do and make him a hero among his or her peers. A job develops self esteem and responsibility and is a form of leaning in itself.

Dec. 05 2011 09:10 AM
RY from Port Washington

Children can learn good work habits through education -- that is part of what schooling is for. If the claim "children from lower income households have not learned work ethics" is indeed true, those students need more time to learn how to study and adapt to a school life. If kids need money to survive, we adults are collectively responsible for providing what they need. They will have a plenty of time for labor later -- let kids be kids when they can, as much as they can.

Dec. 05 2011 09:08 AM
Jason Engel

i think the rich should make a real sacrifice. if the rich gave up flush toilets and went back to out houses, then poor kids could make a buck, of course a less than minimum wage buck, hauling their crap. let's all work together toward a better future for america!


Dec. 05 2011 09:07 AM
DLMc from Staten Island

The heart of this issue is how one views janitorial work. If you view it as hard work that needs to get done and one can have a sense of pride for doing well or like Mr. Noguera as menial work that is distasteful. Mr. Noguera claims janitorial work should be well compensated yet does not seem to want anyone to stay in the job. That someone might have no interest in attending college and be content in a janitorial position is a concept that seems to elude him. So if you find the janitor someone to be looked down upon the concept of allowing children to aid in the work is horrid. If you find the janitor to be the equal of the office worker, having child assistants is not distasteful. Here in NYC the public school janitors make more than the teachers.

Dec. 05 2011 08:56 AM
Peg from Willseyville NY

I think Newt needs to mention that the children of the wealthy also do not know how to WORK. They should also be trained in janitor work. After all, they will be only deriving their adult incomes from capital gains - which REQUIRES no labor.

Dec. 05 2011 08:33 AM
Benjamin Solotaire from Brooklyn

People need to remember that Child Labor laws were put in place to prevent kids from being forced to work half the day in unsafe conditions. Working for your parents or a part time job in the weekends does help kids learn many valuable lessons. But our culture has developed so that we can allow kids to time to learn and grow instead of being slave labor.

Dec. 05 2011 08:10 AM
AB from Cumberland RI

I don't think children as young as nine should replace adults as janitors. Working with adults to learn work skills and work ethic while earning money and experience, could prove valuable but must be approached with caution. There is a work-study program in Fall River Massachusetts in which a high school student got a job at Subway and was allowed to work days and spend less time at school in a school day. The student was fired from this minimum skill/minimum wage job for not showing up in fall of her senior year. She did not get another job and did not spend any more time in class- there were no educational consequences for being fired. She graduated in the spring and two years later she has been in and out of jail and rehab. I believe that particular school program failed the student miserably.
In contrast, at my own high school, students were allowed work study for trades like carpentry and auto mechanics. Students had required, related coursework and related job placement. One of my fellow students that graduated from that program in 1998 and is still employed in the automotive repair industry.
It seems that work study programs can be successful in which carefully supervised students work to build skills that are reinforced by coursework in school.

Dec. 05 2011 07:23 AM
Mike from Salt Lake City

Comments on Labor Laws in USA
Recently I traveled to Australia. Australia has Universal Health Care for all(no one uninsured and no medical bankruptcies for bills and as many hospitals and doctors as the USA per thousand).
They also have a "graduated Miniumum wage" or as they call it "A liveable Wage".
When a child is under 16, the Minimum wage is $6 an hour I think. When the young person is 21, the minimum wage is $15 an hour. The dollar is almost equal to the Australian Dollar in value.
I notice lots of shops, still have the same producted (from China as Wal-Mart) and are competititve with many, many people employed competing in small shops with youth employed.

Here is website that describes the Minimum Living Wage in Australia with a bonus, Universal Health Care. Why are we trying to solve problems by thinking only our ideas are the best. It is obvious, "Not invented here" syndrome.

Australian Universal Health Care
Cost? 1.5% of reported income. Report $50,000 annual income - $62.50 a month premium. Watch You tube series

Hope this helps you, usually cannot in to talk on phone.


Dec. 05 2011 07:16 AM
carl, queens, n.y.

childhood should be spent on getting educated and enjoying the wonders of life.. no job, just chores for mom and dad.. also, no home work.. extend the scool day and or, the school year.. when i got out of school, all i had my mind on was ''the say hey kid'', ''sal the barber'', johnny antonelli, monte irvin, etc.. when the mayor goes home to his mansion with his favorite sqeeze, does he want to play mayor, or does he want to play herman cain?..

Dec. 05 2011 07:13 AM

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