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. Same Again

    Wow. Cut taxes for the rich and put poor kids to work while laying off the janitors. Can bringing back slavery be far behind?

    November 19, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  2. JKulick

    This guy's citizenship license should be revoked.

    November 19, 2011 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  3. nolapearl

    Why not have ALL the kids keep their schoolyards clean? why just the poor kids? When I was a kid, we had to clean the playground after recess – all of us. It's called personal responsibility.

    November 19, 2011 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  4. nik

    And that will buy them Drug. Nothing positive.

    November 19, 2011 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  5. marty

    I think Gingrich should open the a school and call it the Newt Gingrich school of influence peddling. These kids should learn how to run for office and then make millions scamming people like ol' Newt does.

    November 19, 2011 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  6. Jane

    In the mid-1990's Gingrich also proposed taking poor children from their families and raising them in orphanages.

    November 19, 2011 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  7. MikeInFC

    And while were at it, why don't we get rid of those pesky child labor laws and eliminate the minimum wage Newt. This ranks up there with Limbaugh saying poor kids could find their next meal in a dumpster. What's next? Throwing poor people to the lions as a pay-per-view event?

    November 19, 2011 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  8. Togo

    Wow. What an idiot. Enjoy your brief polling bubble.

    November 19, 2011 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  9. Peewee

    I couldn't agree more. We have ruined generations of people because of the so called child specialist. We have actually had to train new fire recruits how to clean a bathroom, because mom and dad didn't. Had 1 kid push the lawnmower out on the grass and stand there, when I asked what was wrong he stated he had never mowed a lawn, this is what we have raised, I'm proud my 3 worked when they were young now all are successful

    November 19, 2011 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  10. logical thinker

    So what happens to the janitor's jobs? So essentially with this idea, lost of janitors get laid off because the schools are obviously going to hire the kids who will work for less. Great idea. Let's go backwards with society.

    November 19, 2011 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  11. M.K.

    Just another I've got mine, to hell with the poor and the downtrodden by this egotistical blowhard. The janitors work hard to clean up, and have to deal with all kinds of germs and other health hazards, but because they belong to a union Gingrich wants them fired and go to slave labor using kids that should be doing their homework or helping out at home while their parents work three or four jobs to pay bills. This Clown went from an obscure teacher at a small west Georgia college to being a multi millionaire , all at the taxpayers expense. When are the idiots that back him going to wise up?

    November 19, 2011 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  12. bcheev

    Genius! That way you can bust unions, identify lower income kids, and display them cleaning up the filth of "their betters" all at the same time! That will keep those peasants in their place! The really sad part is there are people out there who don't see how demeaning and insulting this is. Those successful people chose their early jobs. They weren't given "leftover" work that was created by eliminating living-wage jobs. Thought process of the 1%, I guess.

    November 19, 2011 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  13. TheDragon

    He tells Harvard students (aka the wealthy) to put the poor kids to work? What about the kids that are not poor? What a crock!

    November 19, 2011 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    yes newt you moron...bring back slavery i say!!!

    November 19, 2011 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  15. Ann

    Really? So what this old coot is saying is that only poor children should have to sacrifice their childhood just because they happened to be born into a poor family? And children who are not poor? They can just be kids, is that right? The only "job" a child should have is to go to school and learn all they can. Another stupid idea by a good ol' boy.

    November 19, 2011 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  16. LJ

    How about paying their parents to clean the school so they can learn a work ethic????

    November 19, 2011 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  17. ibwon

    Child labor, an 18 hour work day, no minimum wage and no unions. Republicans for the return of the Glided Age of Robber Barons!

    GOP message to Americans: If you're not filthy rich, screw you peasants.

    November 19, 2011 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  18. FedUpwithLA

    So that the richer kids could crap on the floors and have the poorer kids clean it up. That's what will happen . . .

    November 19, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  19. Cielo

    Sure, let's bring back the dark ages of exploited 8 year olds. This man has NO concept of reality! Nowadays kids are more likely to case a school and see what electronics can be stolen. There's more money in that anyway and less effort than working some lousy backbreaking job for what would no doubt be less than minimum wage.

    November 19, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  20. Adele Ash

    He's an idiot

    November 19, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  21. billy davis

    That used to happen until Reagan and Bush 1 cut the summer jobs programs.

    November 19, 2011 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  22. Andrew

    And I suppose that the not-so-poor kids wouldn't tease these children about their families having no money? ANOTHER bad idea by a stupid republican.

    November 19, 2011 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  23. Jane

    Afterthoughts: 1) One of the jobs of the janitor is to run the furnace and boiler. Does Gingrich propose having a ten year-old do that? 2) When I was in elementary school it was the janitor who was summoned to clean up when a kid vomited on the floor. I have a life-size picture in my head of a child doing that. Not any child I have ever known.

    November 19, 2011 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  24. billy davis

    Now, Gingrich wants to give poor kids a road to employment by firing their fathers and making sure the kids are nothing more than janitors. How condescending.

    November 19, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  25. Helen

    Problems: How will they get home after missing the bus due to work? Will free snacks be provided after school ends and before they start work? Will the one "master janitor" oversee each child and keep them safe? Will that one person train everyone regarding infection control when cleaning bathrooms? If a child gets hurt, will there be lawsuits against the school? In addition to the chores the children have at home, when will they have time to do their homework? Will there be any time for play in the fresh air before dark? Will the children be paid by check or cash? Will the money be taken from them? Sounds like a great idea for teens, since the fast food jobs are all being taken by the unemployed adults. But this sounds like third world country sweat shop horror for young children. Newt is out of touch with reality to suggest this for underage children. Not well thought out, possibly because his mother, wife and maid always did everything and all Newt had to do was decide where to eat lunch that day while coming up with ridiculous ideas.

    November 19, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
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