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. independent

    Kids. They are so cute, so tiny, lets put them back into the mills and the mines. Mine companies could make more money and reduce their expensive adult employees.

    November 19, 2011 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    No, Newt Gingrich is truly stupid! Lets force poor children to clean their schools...while were at it since child labor laws are so stupid, we should probably get rid of minimum wage laws as well and keep the poorest communities as poor as possible...please, Newt, shut the F up already!! Thank you...

    November 19, 2011 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  3. Dave

    So take away a job done by an adult, and replace him or her with a 10 year old? Is this guy for real?

    November 19, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  4. Dim Witted

    Perfect. Kids taking their parents jobs, for far less money, far earlier than they should be taking others jobs. Brilliant Newt, simply brilliant.

    November 19, 2011 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  5. d

    Newt u can do work like mowing lawns and washing cars now....god ur pathetic.

    November 19, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  6. Peter

    Somebody want to tell this bozo that there is a difference between selling papers (which you can't do here anyway, our local paper says you have to be 18), mowing lawns and washing cars and being the custodial staff at a building!

    November 19, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  7. pop

    Maybe the poor kids can get free healthcare and lunches instead of money after you destroy public healthcare and education, Mr. Gingrich. Child labor laws basically prevent the indentured servitude of those least able to defend themselves or grasp the concept of abuse. It's almost imaginable that yourself, Cain, Perry, Bachman, and the rest are being paid to say such outlandish things in order to ensure Romney's nomination. Oh wait, I guess that's what book deals and exorbitant speaking fees accomplish. The two-party system you help to force upon the ignorant masses is the real issue.

    November 19, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  8. Wayne

    So Newt's solution to ending poverty is to lay off janitors and make the janitors' kids clean the school for lower wages?

    November 19, 2011 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  9. callnews

    Excellent idea that few have the courage or sense to recognize, let alone act upon. Work enables kids to gain true confidence; teaches them to look for solutions rather than the nihilist mentality that's killing our country at every level. Children can do more than what most give them credit for.

    November 19, 2011 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  10. sami

    Now let me get this straight. WHAT?? 10 year olds should work as janitors in the schools. Fire the adults (who may be working to support a family) and have the kids clean the schools. Child labor laws are stupid. Gingrich is smart. Perhaps he can explain when the 10 year old should do homework, study, read a book. After he finishes cleaning the toilets. Got it. Keep up the good work Newt.

    November 19, 2011 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  11. Josh Olsen

    Great, so instead of focusing on learning in school and preparing for a good career to lift them out of poverty, now CHILDREN who happen to be born poor will have to work to earn money in school. Meanwhile children of wealthy families continue to get ahead by focusing on their education unhindered by a need to work. What better way to widen the achievement gap. How about focusing on equalizing educational opportunities for ALL CHILDREN. If you want to teach responsibility to children because it is a good thing, then you should teach it to ALL CHILDREN including the children of middle class and wealthy families. Leave it to someone like Gingrich who got millions from the same housing industry that engaged in predatory lending to poorer families that did not have sufficient education to realize what risks they were taking to talk about the meaning of work and responsibility. Perhaps the wealthy children can go down to the poor school districts and help to clean up and repair those schools. Unless you think that poor children only benefit from actual hard labor like cleaning and rich children only benefit from bake sales. Gingrich and his 1% need to wake up!

    November 19, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  12. mandy gosselin

    Why not have the rich mommy and daddy's boys and girls get up off their spoiled well paid butts to clean the schools and see what it feels like to actually work a real job and earn minimum wage?

    November 19, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  13. fed-up

    you sir, are truly stupid!!!

    November 19, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  14. Andrea M

    Wow. "Please sir, may I have some more?" immediately comes to mind here. I never dreamed that anybody would use the world of Charles Dickens novels as something to aspire to!

    November 19, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  15. LouAZ

    It is clear Marryin' Newt belongs in the 1930s, maybe even the 1830s. He has no concept of "All men are created equal". He still believes some are more "equal" than others. Core Repub/TP value is it ? Come on Newt, it is the 21st Century !!!

    November 19, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  16. firewalller

    Child labor laws are truly stupid?? really!!?? ahahah.. I hope Ron Paul wins he is the only one that could beat Obama next year.

    November 19, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  17. Muhammad E

    Even for the GOP field, this is a new low. They're not willing to send their kids to war but have no problem getting us into plenty of wars...they're not willing to pay their share of taxes but have no problem letting little kids work to be able to go to school so that the rich don't get any tax increases. This is truly disgusting and embarrassing for this country.

    November 19, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  18. charles

    No Newt, you are " truly stupid". Child labor laws were put in palce for a reason, to protect the kids from people like you. Since you have such bright ideas, why don't you give the money you took from your so called consulting fees and give it to the kids. while your at it, give some of your hard earned money to the schools so they can keep the teachers and the janitors so the kids can learn what they shouldn't be doing to be anything like you.

    November 19, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  19. MIke smith

    What a great way to save money. Replace the janitors with 10 year olds. Because Newt favors abolishing the minimum wage. We only have to pay them 2.00 an hour. Who needs school anyway ? Its not for educating . Its for creating the future American Janitor class of worker bees.

    November 19, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  20. bobcat2u

    Yeah, that's the republican answer for everything. Get rid of the unions.

    November 19, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  21. Andrew

    I suppose Newt would be a fan of Scrooge. "Are there no workhouses?"

    November 19, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  22. Wally Balloo

    Hey Newt – work with any kids lately? Good luck getting them to clean anything. And they wold be the butt of a million jokes from their friends, and the targets of taunting. How about a job for the kids where they would actually learn something – like in the school kitchen, or the mechanical systems or school computers. Or maybe you think the poor are poor because they are tto dumb to learn anything beyond how to work hard for low pay?

    November 19, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  23. Church

    This guy is amazing!
    What planet is he from?
    For a historian, he sure doesn't get it.
    Let's go back to the 18th century and put kids to work in factories.
    They aren't learning anything in school anyway.

    November 19, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  24. none of your business

    Its always preach/teach the poor.

    November 19, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    This is the most ridiculous $%*# i've ever heard in my life! Instead of a plan to create jobs, increase wages to sustainable amount, or providing skills training to impoverished PARENTS this idiot wants to put POOR kids to work?! So not only do these POOR kids have to be neglected by the county their schools are in but they have to do the job that the state should have done in making schooling proportionate throughout the state regardless of the parents income?! There is so much wrong with this that I can't even see through my anger to type anymore. Way to go Newt!

    November 19, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
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