Gingrich: Laws preventing child labor are 'truly stupid'
November 19th, 2011
07:38 PM ET
2 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

    Are you kidding?? Oh, let the poor kids clean the toilets and the floors and the cafeteria. It's not 1931, Newt!! And what's this labeling of "poor kids"?? Those "other" kids that live far far away from YOUR kids. Horrible man here with no understanding of life– he's into all those archaic ideas of how to get poor people out of the way. Hey.. go sell newspapers and get accosted by a Jerry Sandusky. Have you ever worked in a menial job, Newt?? I don't think so. You with all your high price budgets for necklaces and bracelets. Newt is a fraud. Throw the poor kids a bone, right?

    November 19, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  2. Joe citizen abroad

    This plan presumes a benevolent and moral employer. If we lived in an ideal world, where kids weren't abused and taken advantage of with alarming consistency, this would be a good idea. But we don't live in that world. Apparently, there are no Dickens novels on planet Newt.

    November 19, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. joe

    Remove the professional cleaning staff that uses harsh chemicals and works full time as it is to make the poor kids – not the rich ones, that wouldn't go over well down at the country club – slave away. Rich kids get janitors; poor kids get mops. Because of course we can't fund all schools equally – wouldn't be 'Merican! This is inches from Oliver Twist. What a sick pile of goo this guy is.

    November 19, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  4. barefeethusky

    This disgusts me beyond belief. How out of touch can a politician be with those outside of the 1%? So, he wants poor kids to clean up after their contemporaries? Would they be taken out of class to do this? Would it be mandatory (must be since he's firing the union workers)? These kids should be encouraged to study and achieve, but he wants to kick them down and teach them how to be subservient. Does he plan on hiring middle class kids as teachers & secretaries? Will the rich kids be appointed principal & superintendent? Perhaps kids should be employed as cancer nurses so they can keep patients company during their treatments while their sack of s#!t husbands file for divorce.....

    November 19, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  5. Pat in Jersey

    Are you kidding?? Oh, let the poor kids clean the toilets and the floors and the cafeteria. It's not 1931, Newt!! And what's this labeling of "poor kids"?? Those "other" kids that live far far away from YOUR kids. Horrible man here with no understanding of life– he's into all those archaic ideas of how to get poor people out of the way. Hey.. go sell newspapers and get accosted by a Jerry Sandusky. Have you ever worked in a menial job, Newt?? I don't think so. You with all your high price budgets for necklaces and bracelets. Newt is a fraud. Throw the poor kids a bone, right?

    November 19, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  6. jdog

    typical, one the one hand Republicantts like newt here talk out of one side of their fat power hungry money grubbing mouth about "Education, Education, the boy needs an Education"....bu the first sign they can start making a buck form child labour, THAT'S the score right there.......yeah newt, I guess you may need those little hands to polish the inside of casings....really stupid idea...so I guess newt, you aren't for education....typical

    November 19, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  7. John

    "The kids would actually do work; they'd have cash; they'd have pride in the schools."

    Another pathetic effort to undermine labor by eliminating child labor laws. How about stop cutting education budgets while spending more money building prisons and imprisoning more youth from poor neighborhoods? How about improving education, make schools and parents more accountable, teach kids to enjoy learning, and maybe they would actually take pride in their schools?

    November 19, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  8. ChrisM

    WOW, newt has lost his mind.

    November 19, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  9. Jaydee

    How elitist of him. Working for pennies in next-to-slavery janitorial service isn't going to help anyone "rise" from poverty. Getting a good, solid education and instilling that in their children will. I was a poor white boy cleaning my private school for the tuition to attend. To me it wasn't worth it. I can't help but think this man wouldn't be happier than to see little poor white, black, and latino children cleaning schools.

    November 19, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  10. JC in Western U.S.

    It's not that I have a problem with paying poor children to work in their schools. My husband's first job was that same thing and he was just in junior high.

    But the problem I have with it is that you then lay off all those adults with families to support. So then their kids drop into poverty. It's kind of six of one and half dozen of the other.

    November 19, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. Guinness

    Gingrich should be in JAIL for his crimes, but he should never be release cause these remarks!

    November 19, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  12. PK California

    How thoughtful of you to suggest that kids who feel low because they're poor, should be allowed to get a little lower and clean schools! Sorry buddy, but you missed your mark! Those who HAVE, have no idea what it's like to HAVE NOT! These kids are lucky they can go to school, often without shoes like others have and clothes that came from the Salvation Army. Small wonder most of them quit as soon as they can. Put your thinking cap on Newt and come up with something better.

    November 19, 2011 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  13. WickedWitch

    Just..Wow. This sounds good in theory... I guess. Of course this is the same mind set amongst the child sweat shop owners of the world as well. This is just another way of getting cheap labor. Is this how we should fix the problem of child poverty....exploit the kids. We all know that it would start off as something innocent, and then we would start hearing the stories of children basically being held in slavery because of some nutjob in charge, or stories of horrific injuries caused by exposure to the chemicals or machinery. and lets not forget about the potential of some pedophile getting his or her hands on a desparate child. Yeah schools are gonna open themselves up to that. Also, who is gonna let their 9 year old go to work cleaning up his or her school. What's wrong with offering the same jobs to the parents? Wouldn't that be an even better solution? Oh and that "generation" he is talking about was in a different time when the world we live in was a lot different. Must be great to rich and above it all.

    November 19, 2011 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  14. Sarah

    This guy is totally nuts. Sure it's great when kids can earn money and develop a work ethic, but have the poor kids clean the school like they are servants for the rich kids? Maybe they should all get lessons in email scamming and selling old rope the way Gingrich does. 33 million this year alone. Disgusting individual!

    November 19, 2011 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  15. JW

    Gingrich is out of touch. Poor kids already try to get jobs as soon as they are old enough. When they do get jobs, the money doesn't go toward themselves, it goes to helping out their families. And since their parents are probably both working long hours, they also babysit the younger ones, do their homework, and do house chores. At least that is how my life as a poor child was.

    November 19, 2011 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  16. Guest

    And when exactly has Newt Gingrich had a real job? "Professional politician" and "professional lobbyist" don't count.

    November 19, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  17. LMC

    Child labor laws were put into place to protect children from dangerous jobs and to keep them from being sent to work instead of school. Gingrich has a short memory for a historian!

    November 19, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  18. realist

    That's a horrible idea! I wouldn't want my child cleaning toilets, breathing chemicals and picking up after other children for a few bucks because we know that they would not earn a decent wage.

    November 19, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  19. ED FL

    There are lots of foolish laws. One comes to mind is how can a disgraced fat crook who has a history of failure and thievery legally/illegal be allowed to run for the highest LEGAL position in this country. He needs to spend his time cleaning toilets and schools for food stamps[Whoops the last thing he needs is food stamps]or donate his salary to the needy not the GREEDY like himself. Hopefull his notoriety will dissapear as his life stylye and records become more openly public.

    November 19, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  20. MikeB

    My God, this man truly is a monster.

    November 19, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  21. I'm totally astonished.

    Are you serious? So put children in unsanitary conditions, sounds like a great idea to me. What is this dude smoking?

    November 19, 2011 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    What a pig – how about instead of forcing our poor children into labor, we pay their parents a decent living wage. What an idiot. Typical republican mindset...use and abuse the poor.

    November 19, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  23. b4bigbang

    Hmmm, let's see.....Fire the adult janitors and put their kids in their place. Unemployed adults, and kids doing labor. The Newt will bring us back to the sweatshop era if it kills us!

    November 19, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  24. ThePreacherTheTeacher

    It is Gingrich who is truly stupid. Instead of striving to help families keep kids in school and get as educated as possible, and thus help our economy in global market, he thinks it's great idea to revert to Dickensian times and give kids incentive to work too young, eventually quit school early and thus live out their lives in poverty. What does he care? The Gingrich kids and their cohorts no doubt had all the resources they needed to continue their education as far as possible.

    Successful people all started working when they were 9? Maybe in movies, but I seem to recall that sociological studies have shown that the vast majority of successful people are above all very highly educated. In today's world, relevant work experience doesn't begin until the college years at the earliest.

    November 19, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  25. Isitacult.com

    Kids need good jobs, but for some folks religion is a great motivator too! Check out http://www.isitacult.com and see whether our thousands of visitors think your religion is a cult.

    November 19, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
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