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. Stupidity2darnhigh

    Why just "poor children"? Why not children of rich parents or just children period?! Why don't they clean their schools and as you say "actually work get cash and take pride in the schools."

    As far as I'm concerned rich people's children are poor as well because they live off the check of their parents. They're freeloaders practically taking handouts.
    Last I checked you Repubs hate that.

    November 20, 2011 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  2. Mike from Orlando, Florida

    It's a slippery slope Newt, a slope that will slide us back into truly Dickensian times. Sorry we won't fall for it.

    November 20, 2011 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  3. Marla

    Wow, he's really channeling the grinch, isn't he?
    He's supposed to be so educated – didn't he read any Charles Dickens? There are good reasons that child labor laws were enacted – to protect children from employers like him!

    November 20, 2011 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  4. Canman

    OR... they could do homework and get into college instead of training to be janitors when they grow up.

    November 20, 2011 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  5. enuff

    Are you kidding me? Deunionize and introduce child labor? Let's open debtor prisons while we are at it. If a child does not get an education and has to start work at age 9, I guess that will destroy the middle class for good. Minumum wage for children could be a dollar a day. Let's take us back to the 19th century.

    November 20, 2011 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  6. Grundoon

    WOW!! He is completely out of it!!! WOW!

    November 20, 2011 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  7. Pitt

    Gingrich's ideas to put children (as young as 9 years old) to work as janitors in their school is cruel and disgusting. Poor children should not have to work because of the status of the family they were born into. They should be able to just be kids. Anyone with ideas like this should not be in the race for president. This is just disgusting.

    November 20, 2011 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  8. pierider

    This old has-been needs to retire and spend his time playing golf.

    November 20, 2011 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  9. Tom

    I totally agree and because kids have more energy, they should work 14 hour shifts too. Bring back the good ole days!

    November 20, 2011 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  10. LNB

    What an elitist arrogant man. After taking lobbying dough, insurance corps' dough, having hundreds of 1000's of dollars of credit at Tiffany's, this, the man who desires to be president spews this kind of labor ideas? Let's break the union janitors, who most likely are the fathers of the kids; let's break the janitors' union and kill their jobs so they will loose their health care for the families of these kids Newt is speaking about; let the kids to the work for pittance~ because if the child labor laws change you know the wages will go down. So let's put their parents out of work and let the students do the cleaning so that they can feed the family as well. Newt~ REX FECESIUS

    November 20, 2011 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  11. LNB

    I have to post again...I am speechless. I re-read the article and I want to smack this dough boy. A race to the bottom~ this is Newt's dream ~ a race to the bottom for the poor. He should be fired and frog-marched out of town. Give him a minimum wage hamburger flipping job; no health care and let him see how far he gets. Disgusting. Obama 2012

    November 20, 2011 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  12. LouAz

    Well, now that Marryin' Newt has told us what kind of jobs "poor children" should have, will he tell us what kind of jobs "rich children" should have ? I'm waiting . . .

    November 20, 2011 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  13. justin

    I rather see them kids learning something to help them stop the cycle of poverty. That just says spent your time cleaning in stead of studying, and just accept your life and don't try to be a doctor.

    November 20, 2011 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  14. earl fey

    He must be kidding. Next put thgem to work as guards in debtor prison or burnong liberal books?

    November 20, 2011 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  15. Thomas

    "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."

    This coming from a lobbyist or historian who is paid a million dollars for advice. Newt is not only aragonite and self righteous . How can he be and outsider when he works on the inside.

    November 20, 2011 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  16. VetForObama

    So wait a minute. So if you are a child or teenager and you are in a school that is failing Newt wants you to quit school and go and find work. Is that it?

    "Newt also offered a system that would help student get out of poverty."

    Newt, the only system that would help students out of poverty is to invest in their education and make that better and productive citizens tomorrow so that when they get out of school, they can find a decent paying job to support they and their families. Unfortunately, you and the Republicans what to shut down schools an send the kids on a job hunting spree. .

    November 20, 2011 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  17. zip

    Just when you thought this guy couldn't be any dumber, he opens his mouth again. comedy gold!

    November 20, 2011 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  18. Paul

    It is evident that Gingrich has no clue what janitors actually do. On the other hand maybe we could have kids scrabble in slag heaps looking for the odd piece of coal to heat the schools.

    November 20, 2011 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  19. Cris

    Forget 2012.......1812 Here were come.......

    Are there no prisons?And the workhouses? Are they still in operation?My taxes help support the establishments I have
    mentioned and those who are badly off must go there.

    November 20, 2011 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  20. sadie holly

    Sounds great, fire adults and let kids take up the job of cleaning the schools – using chemicals, because 10 year olds don't have to read to learn what is dangerous, if another kid dies from something, they should learn from seeing that happen.

    What a great twofer. Child slavery and no unions. Stay in the class you are born into, education is not needed for the poor, work them so they die young and don't use health care, that is for the rich only.

    Do these candidates have a heart at all? Or are they so into the middle ages they can't see what it will do to them as well?

    November 20, 2011 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  21. Rusty

    If you believes that these GOP fools aren't trying to erase 100 years of progress, you are part of the problem.

    November 20, 2011 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  22. Tim Ray

    So not only do they have to go to the damn school, but they have to clean it too?

    November 20, 2011 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  23. JustAGirl

    Is this a joke? Is this the Onion?

    November 20, 2011 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  24. Anonymous

    This must be Newts idea for defecit reduction. Have poor kids in the ghetto clean the school instead of janitors.
    Child labor laws, thats so 1920's. If we want to compete with the likes of India and China we need to step our game up.

    November 20, 2011 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  25. Mikelike

    This is Newts idea for defecit reduction. Have kids in the ghetto clean the school instead of janitors.
    Child labor laws how 1920's. If we want to compete with the likes of China and Inda we need to step up our game!

    November 20, 2011 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
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