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. DGS

    So the suggestion is to put existing janitorial staff out of work, get them to start looking for new jobs and collecting unemployment.. while hiring young, inexperienced, low cost students to clean up messes their classmates make. Not that teenagers are ever cruel and go out of their way to make a mess for people they consider lower than themselves, right?

    November 19, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  2. cronewinter

    Gee Newt, maybe they could peddle your books for you...

    November 19, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  3. J. Galt

    An idea that makes sense but will probably catch some flak for being politically incorrect.

    November 19, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  4. Teaser38

    Not a horrible idea. Too bad school service workers unions and liability concerns will make this all but impossible.

    November 19, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  5. Srinivas

    Pay the child's parent to do the cleaning, and let the child study. Poor kids are poor because their parents are poor. Not because the child is out of work! It is a stupid proposal.

    November 19, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  6. jdurand

    Presumably, Gingrich is not suggesting these kids work instead of going to school. So, allowing time to complete homework, when does he propose these children work?

    November 19, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  7. Will S

    I have a better idea...let's have Newt clean the schools.

    November 19, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  8. sqeptiq

    There goes Newt, trying to get kids used to working for the government. Meanwhile, he wants to fire their parents. He's such a genius.

    November 19, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  9. whatdid

    there is no difference between gingrich and hitler, same garbage.

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

    There should be a law prohibiting Mr. Gingrich, from eating more food, than many 3rd world countries. But there isn't.

    November 19, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    "Truly stupid"? How are yours any better?

    November 19, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  12. DJ

    I had to check to make sure this wasn't The Onion. I kept waiting for the punchline.

    November 19, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  13. CHUCK

    This guy want to turn US into China.

    November 19, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  14. Dave

    What does Newt know about janitorial work? He comes up with these halfbaked ideas without having any idea how they would work. The guy is dangerous!!

    November 19, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  15. FauxNewz

    Wow, I wonder how many votes he lost with that speech? Let's see, all the janitors, union or not, and any parent or teacher who wants to see a child studying instead of taking out school trash. What votes did he get from this speech? The same ones he would already have. Until now, I thought he had a chance.

    November 19, 2011 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  16. ForReal

    Wow. Just wow. Newt gives a lecture on childhood work ethics, meanwhile, he lived off of his wife who put him through school, only to serve her divorce papers IN THE HOSPITAL as she was recovering from cancer treatment. Left her with young children to feed, and as he took his mistress with him to DC, she and his children had to resort to going on welfare. Left to his decision, they would have starved, save the "socialist" government who provided for that lazy trash. His children should have been working jobs, not lazing about in school and eating government cheese, is what this fool is really saying.

    November 19, 2011 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    What a really stupid idea...putting young kids to work to earn money only teaches the kids that money is the most important thing in life which should not be the case. If kids are expected to clean schools then ALL students are required (rich or poor) otherwise it's a demeaning situation.

    November 19, 2011 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  18. rebecca

    The "truly stupid" bit in this is anyone taking Newt Gingrich seriously. He's a bloated, lying blowhard with no sense of personal morals or ethics, whose chief accomplishments include shutting down the federal government over a temper tantrum and resigning after being investigated for ethics violations.

    Seriously? This is the best the GOP has to offer? I'd laugh if it weren't so depressing.

    November 19, 2011 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  19. ric

    so lets use poor kids as cheap labor...nice...

    November 19, 2011 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  20. johnmccain

    Kids' place is in the school not for cleaning but learning. Learning a lot more than what they learn now. We need quality teachers and responsible parenting that supports the work teachers do.
    Only thing I can say about Gingrich is that he is a big league moron.

    November 19, 2011 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  21. Mary Derricotte

    Why do poor children need to exposed to cleaning up any way. Except their own house . This is newt way of sayin that poor chidren don't need internships that would change their exposure to another life. He want's poor people to get use to cleaning the toilet. I don't think so. let rich kids clean toilets so they can have a better understanding that poverty is man made a sustained.

    November 19, 2011 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  22. Wynter

    So now we are going to look for cheap labor in the Schoolyard instead of Overseas, Newt? Brilliant plan. Make the United States a Third World Country. What century are you from anyways?

    November 19, 2011 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  23. sean mccoy

    no Gingrich the only work that a child should do is around there own house no child shouldnt work in any school and get sicker they come home with flu's colds cought why would u want them to clean the schools thats is wrong u would'nt put your own child working in the schools would you now

    November 19, 2011 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  24. RoseMcB

    This guy is so out of touch he doesn't even realise how evil he is. Frightening.

    November 19, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  25. w7rkd

    Gingrinch is saying this because they are looking for excuses to lower the minumum wage and have labor at "slave" prices again. Corporate Greed!

    November 19, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22