Gingrich: Laws preventing child labor are 'truly stupid'
November 19th, 2011
07:38 PM ET
11 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. LeftCoast1

    Great idea! Let's repeal the Child Labor laws so we can lower the costs of schools. And then we can lower taxes! Newt and the rest of his Republicans come up with some great stuff. Let's just repeal the 19th and 20th centuries. Everything was great in 1700.

    November 19, 2011 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  2. JEC

    What a terribly misleading headline. Please be more honest.

    November 19, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  3. NYC guy

    so Newt's great plan to address poverty is to create a workforce of poor kids.


    November 19, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  4. Liz the First

    The rethugs are constantly showing their true colors. they just can't help themselves. now Newt is openly supporting child labor. wow, can repeal of the minimum wage and the 40-hour week be far behind?

    November 19, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  5. Teena

    What an idiot- put the poor kids who really need the money to work taking care of the school rather than do homework or participate in other activities such as clubs or athletics! I am all for programs that instill pride and work ethics,but having students work to take care of school grounds is not the way to promote loyalty!

    November 19, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. Peteykins

    That's insane, like creating indentured servants out of unfortunate students whose only "sin" is having poor parents. When would these kids have time for homework or, you know, playing, being kids?

    November 19, 2011 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  7. Scott Smith

    Has he lost his mind? People say he believes he is the smartest person in the room...yeah right.

    November 19, 2011 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  8. pmk1953

    The repubs are actively trying to turn the U.S. into a third world country.

    November 19, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  9. heavyhorse

    next it will be drilling rigs and coal mines or Pages for Republican Senators..naw been there done that

    November 19, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  10. Katie

    It's even more tragic that people legitimately want children to work several hours after school while having homework to deal with.

    November 19, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  11. Marcus

    Why there ARE anti child labor laws?
    To prevent poor children to help their families (as Gingrich believes)?
    Or to allow poor children to have an education and a future?

    November 19, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  12. Oat

    The guy is living in the early 1900's.

    November 19, 2011 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  13. Tim

    Put children to work and get rid of unions. I wouldn't be surprised if Newt shot a load in the drawers after that piece of brilliance.

    November 19, 2011 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  14. Alphe Wolf

    Well look how well it works in prison. the guys cleaning the place have access to smuggled contraband that makes them money.

    November 19, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  15. ed

    Great idea there, Gingrich. Train poor kids to be janitors at a young age. That way, they won't have any expectations later. Geez, why not treat poor kids like rich kids and prepare them for excellence? Does Gingrich suggest that poor kids should be mentored by financial analysts? Or intern at computer tech companies? Nope. Take this mop and bucket, kid. Gingrich is possibly the biggest idiot to ever hold the gavel.

    November 19, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  16. Nick

    He made one good point, and then completely ruined it in a way only Newt can manage.

    November 19, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  17. Kbutler

    Is it me or is it just this man is as he put it, Stupid it.

    November 19, 2011 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  18. Clwyd

    Oh My God! Newt wants to go back to children doing labor in schools for money. Isn't a grade enough Newt? Then they will be dragged back into the mines and factories. Republicans are slowly undermining everything positive about labor for the last 100 years.

    November 19, 2011 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. Peter Q Wolfe

    I actually think the idea of deunionization of teachers will be a boon for the economy myself! I had some miserible teachers in my life and cannot stand them myself with their complaining about pay an d or benefits. Well, maybe we should rise the standards on ouor communities by not talking down to our children like 4th graders till they graduate. We should also have simulated examples of real-life examples of work in economics to history of our nation. Money management should be taught ever couple of year and the cost of normal items to what they will be in a few years with inflation to anything for that matters. Likewise, we should teach them tat liberal art majors aren't very profitable and to go into science, mathematics and not history or political science. By the way, liberals and conservatives out there listening tha I'm an independent and realize our existing system is stupid and inaffective.

    November 19, 2011 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  20. Robert

    I actually find myself agreeing with this!! I started delivering newspapers at age 12, and it gave me an incredible work ethic. I work with kids whose parents totally took care of them, and they didn't get their jobs until 16 or 17, and they were only during summer. Now they don't like to work, where I enjoy a productive day. Get this idea moving!!

    November 19, 2011 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  21. Roger McLaren

    Good onya Newt... You are the man to get America moving again...

    November 19, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  22. Liberty Queen

    Oh yeah, Newt, let's put the kids to work at schools with the janitor perps... wonderful idea. Stay home with your third wife, dufus.

    November 19, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  23. Paraif

    The problem is that without those laws radical situations arise that don't bother to just install a simple work ethic in our children. They turn our children into slave labor. That was the reason the law was put in place in the first place. To protect them from that abuse. It's easy to voice an opinion on a law without studying up on history enough to know why it was put in place in the first place.

    November 19, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. Joy

    Newt, is this only for kids in poor schools, mostly minorities, so they can "rise?" How about applying your proposal to middle-class and affluent schools too? You seem to be targeting the poor here. Plus you want to get rid of unionized janitors. Another GOP attempt at killing off unions. No wonder the 99% are against your elitism!

    November 19, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  25. Nakasone

    So the old and the less fortunate are not enough for the GOP to use for their own personal gain. Now Newt want to extend it to only less fortunate children. Pure Vile and Senile and out right disgusting. How about the rich kids like yours clean their class rooms too?

    November 19, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
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