Gingrich: Laws preventing child labor are 'truly stupid'
November 19th, 2011
07:38 PM ET
8 years ago

Gingrich: Laws preventing child labor are 'truly stupid'

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich proposed a plan Friday that would allow poor children to clean their schools for money, saying such a setup would both allow students to earn income and endow them with a strong work ethic.

Speaking at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the former House Speaker said his system would be an improvement on current child labor laws, which he called "truly stupid."

"It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in child laws which are truly stupid," Gingrich said. "Saying to people you shouldn't go to work before you're 14, 16. You're totally poor, you're in a school that's failing with a teacher that's failing."

Gingrich then proposed a system he said would help those students rise from poverty.

"I tried for years to have a very simple model. These schools should get rid of unionized janitors, have one master janitor, pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work; they'd have cash; they'd have pride in the schools. They'd begin the process of rising."

Gingrich pointed to successful acquaintances as examples of the benefits of beginning a job early in life.

"Go out and talk to people who are really successful in one generation," Gingrich said. "They all started their first job at 9 to 14 years of age. They are selling newspapers, going door to door, washing cars. They were all making money at a very young age. What do we say to poor kids in poor neighborhoods? Don't do it. Remember all the stuff about not getting a hamburger-flipping job? Worst possible advice to give the poor children."

Gingrich said his idea would be "making work worthwhile" for children.


Filed under: 2012 • Jobs • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (528 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Children should be in school, not out working to support themselves or useless parents.
    Yes, let's dumb down American children some more. You can be sure that this jerk did not have to work as a young child to survive.

    November 19, 2011 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. Roc

    No problems here – we cleaned our school beginning at 3rd grade – taking trash out – cleaning erasers, etc. A janitor came around once a week for the heavy duty stuff.

    November 19, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  3. andrei

    Obama must be grinning from ear to ear knowing the Republicans have nothing but these idiots to throw up against him next year. Is Gingrich insane? Or does he think none of these poor kids are qualified to help Fannie and Freddie Mac?

    November 19, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. Aska Feld

    Newt would be an excellent choice for the GOP. He truly represents all the Republican party's values.

    November 19, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  5. Jason

    I thought the biggest problem in the nation was unemployment. Firing parents to hire children at minimum wage probably isn't the best plan for that. Giving young children concentrated exposure to solvents is also kind of silly.

    November 19, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  6. Tom Vogler

    It is absolutely outrageous to suggest that children should have to work to get out of poverty. What is government for if not to help people? I hope this fascist falls on his face.

    November 19, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  7. pikerover

    Yes Mr Grinch, poor children sweeping up after rich kids. How Republican.

    November 19, 2011 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  8. Bernie Moore

    So, kids who are not poor need not apply? Does this mean that they do not need to be endowed with a strong work ethic as much as the poor kids? Kick the janitors to the streets and give their jobs to the poor kids in school, the rich kids can be taught how to properly look down on them and the positions they hold. Talk about class warfare!

    November 19, 2011 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  9. Publius Novus

    Mr. Gingrich, you are not a fool. My uncles and grandfather started working in Pennsylvania coal mines when they were 14. All had black lung, and all but one died early. My other grandfather left school after the eighth grade to go to work in a stone quarry. No, Mr. Gingrich you are not a fool. You are a damned, stupid, dangerous, ignorant, stiff-necked fool.

    November 19, 2011 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  10. Kass

    OF course he wants to fire all the janitors who make $15 bucks an hour and let CHILDREN get paid $3 an hour so that we lower wages even more in this country... great plan idiot. He is not for the middle class at all. I was raised poor and I was able to make extra money to help my family through baby sitting and cleaning horse stalls... NO reason to take away an adults job... who probably has children to feed, to give it to a child just so the Government and the Corporations can lower wages on the American people and enslave us. The Republicans and the Democrats are SICK and don't even consider middle class America anymore. It is no wonder our economy is in the tank... if the middle class can't spend, because everyone in power is trying to enslave us, then our economy will fail.... but the powerful don't care... all they care about are themselves, their money and their greed.

    November 19, 2011 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  11. jburns

    Just what teachers need. Students rummaging through their rooms after hours. Not to mention that having hundreds of students in a school makes for serious messes during the school day. Are they to be taken out of class to clean up? They would have to be trained in bio-hazard clean-up for when students got sick or cut. Custodians also do the heavy lifting and setups for special events in the Cafe-gymna-itorium. Poor Newt just pictures a kid with a broom sweeping a hall. Perhaps he needs to work as a school custodian for a month and then rethink his plan.

    November 19, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  12. NCBluebird

    I'll bet Newt Gringrich has never done one full day of real work his entire life, and he has the nerve to say that child labor laws are "truly stupid." Those laws were put in place because of gross exploitation of child workers. He's obviously not much of a "historian" if he doesn't know that history. The last thing we need is a relaxation of those laws, because doing so would result in even more adults being unemployed because kids could be hired at a lower rate of pay.

    November 19, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  13. Kevin O.

    And then when I think it's safe to return to my life, you Mr. Gingrich compel me to return and type some more.

    What about the unemployed adults? Why not employ them first and let the kids be kids? You know they only get one authentic childhood.

    Educate the parents and impose fines on those who fail. Don't think taking a child with a compromised parent and having that child work is going to teach them anything.

    I think you may have watched "Precious" and let me tell you, that outcome of a somewhat happy ending (minus the HIV via incest) is not a common story.

    November 19, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  14. Elizabeth Danu

    New't idea is as truly stupid as I can expect of him. Great idea for poor kids. Does he want his kids and grandkids working an eight hour day before they get around to doing their homework and embarking on a successful life? I think not.

    November 19, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  15. GOP-DeadFromTheNeckUp

    What a diipshiit. How are we supposed to take Gingrich seriously when he takes positions like this?

    November 19, 2011 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  16. Concerned Democratic citizen

    What next? All this from a guy whose core group consists of upwardly mobile, tax-loophole privileged opportunistic corporate neo-cons who have supported their inflated lifestyles and bank accounys by using low wage foreign labor which has stagnated the employment possibilities of many U.S. workers. Bring those jobs back home so the children of these laid off U.S. citizens can learn good work ethic by seeing it with their own eyes.

    November 19, 2011 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  17. 3eyedjohnny

    What a terrible idea. Typical political pandering without a trace of economic insight. Stick to history Newt and let Ron Paul continue to school and the rest of republican wannabees in Economic matters. Ron Paul 2012!

    November 19, 2011 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  18. Dawn Ada, Ohio

    OMG why wait till they are 9 or 10, let's put them to work at 5 or 6. With their little hands they can do can do all kinds of sanding or polishing. They are just the right size to clean toilets. Hey when we get rid of all those illegals we can have them picking all of the vegetables from the fields. Well hell since they are learning a trade, what is the use of them actually going to school. Just look at all the millions of dollars we could save on all those public schools. Newt you are a genius!!

    November 19, 2011 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  19. Ralph

    Yeah Newt, lets have them sewing in sweatshops too!

    November 19, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  20. Rick in AZ

    But Newt, Government doesn't create jobs-only the private sector does!

    November 19, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  21. MikeH

    Put them kids back in the coal mines, have children work in the farm fields, hire twelve-year-olds to clean out restrooms in railroad and bus stations.

    Yessir, the Republicans have a grand vision for America's future, and Newt the Pathological Liar will lead them.

    November 19, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  22. DarrellS

    The ABSOLUTE Insanity of the GOP once again catches me off guard! Now they want to get rid of Child Labor Laws. Gee, let's turn the clock back about 100 years, why don't we? Shall we lock employees inside their offices to make sure they do an "honest day's" work for their measly wages?

    November 19, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  23. nik

    So,that LITTLE money will bring them Above Poverty? Those succsessful people he points to, many were NOT so poor he makes them to be.plus many had innovative genuine Idea made them successes. SO your Idea is Stupid

    November 19, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  24. FedupTeacher

    What? Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons? Bah, Humbug! Dare I believe it? Ebenezer (Scrooge) Gingrich is alive and well.

    November 19, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  25. mark

    What a jerk. He wants poor kids to clean the schools like slaves for less than minimum wage plus do their school work. Will somebody please take this fool out?

    November 19, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
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