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. jack

    These Gop'ers are so out of touch and honestly have not a creed of empathy amonst them. They continually show that they DO NOT care about the plight of the ordinary american but of Corporate america. Now they want poor kids, underage kids, working to earn a penny. Do you know that their parents are already working 2-3 jobs to keep the family afloat? But you want the kids to work instead of just being kids and maybe doing homework. As a former Republican voter, I am so sick of my party.

    November 19, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  2. Amazed

    Is this man an egotistical maniac or just insane? Can you imagine being a poor child in a school, watching a wealthier classmate laugh and throw trash in the hall, knowing that after school you would have to clean it up? What would that do to a 12-14 year old's self image?

    November 19, 2011 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  3. walz

    good point

    November 19, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  4. SB

    Watching the republicans is like watching reality TV star wannabees trying to out-crazy each other. Wouldn't be surprised to see a couple of housewives or a balloon boy at the next debate.

    November 19, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  5. A guy

    A "master" janitor? C'mon, Newt, did you really mean to phrase it that way? Who am I kidding?

    November 19, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  6. Joshua Ludd

    So, Gingrich's plan to deal with poverty is in part.. child labor. Yes, its just crazy, says Newt, who was paid $120,000 a year by a think tank to simply have dinner with the folks there a few times a year, to not use poor children as cheap labor to help them out. It will instill a work ethic in them. Because, of course that is why they are living in poverty; lack of work ethic in their parents, not the high unemployment and low wages that have plagued the areas they live in.

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

    Not to bad Newt, you still have some crazy idea's but Obama is my pick, he's actually cleaning some of your mess, when you were Speaker!

    November 19, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  8. fed-up

    what about the work ethic for the rich kids?? are you saying they don't need ethics?? that the rich kids can just live off of their parents money!! talk about "class warfare" thank you for a perfect example of what NOT to do!!

    November 19, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  9. wasillawitch

    So, Gringrich is promoting a system where rich kids in rich schools have janitors that do the cleaning and poor kids in poor schools do the cleaning instead of janitors....Gringrich is a freaking fool!

    November 19, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  10. Eddie B

    Child labor for poor children in this country!?!?!? Are you kidding me? Did your kids clean up the school? No! These kids should be focusing on learning and that is why they are in school. Not for you to have cheap labor. Working kids at 9 years old!?!?!? This guy is unbelievable. I hope he wins the nomination. This guy has no morals at all.

    November 19, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  11. Jimzcarz

    How about their unemployed parents...

    November 19, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  12. RogerE

    Another instance of a Republican wanting to take us back to the 1800s. The are pros and cons with every idea but with 10% unemployment I think we have enough people to clean our schools. Our kids are supposed to be kids and learn, not work.

    November 19, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  13. Jimzcarz

    Kinda like washing the dishes if you can't afford your meal..

    November 19, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  14. linus

    This clown (Grinwich) steals millions from the American taxpayer and now proposes to perpuate the servant role of the poor (to to rich). What poor kids need to do better is tutors and better education which the Republican party wants to reduce. In the Republican mind, education & advancement should be a priveledge of the wealthy. They want to perpetuate the difference in classes.

    November 19, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  15. none of the above

    This is the same nut job that wanted to take poor kids away from their parents and put them in group homes !

    November 19, 2011 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  16. windrider2

    I know! Let's make poor children the janitors in our schools. That will be lovely. Of course, we'll have to get rid of those pesky child labor laws. Why who knows where we might find ways to put poor children to work. Just like in those third world countries where our sneakers and designer tee shirts and other clothes are made by children laboring in American-owned sweatshops.

    November 19, 2011 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  17. James R

    Right, take away the income from the adult who may be supporting his own kids , and pay minimum wage or less to the poor. Gingrich the adulterer and paid lobbyist for failed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac really has the welfare of the poor as a priority. Right.

    November 19, 2011 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  18. MazeAndBlue

    WHAT! (smh)

    November 19, 2011 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  19. Mel

    What a total d-bag. I'm sure he worked at nine. He shows his true self again with his "plan". Why don't we get all in congress and senate to clean up the Capitol? Then they would be good for something.

    November 19, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  20. Me3

    Why doesn't Gingrich take some of the money he took from the Health Care Industry and donate it to poor children and unionized jschool anitors instead of buying bling for his trophy wife? This man is sick and is what the GOP is all about.

    November 19, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  21. against child labor

    It is risky to amend child labor laws with just one outcome in mind. It opens doors for much abuse as experienced in many countries across the world. Please think about all repurcussions before making such recommendations.

    November 19, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  22. mike

    Not a day goes by that this moron doesn't say something stupid.

    November 19, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  23. Chuck

    So he wants to fire people who have been cleaning floors, sinks, and toilets in schools for years, if not decades, and hire kids to do the work? This seems more like an underhanded way to pay janitors less and eliminate more union jobs than a way to do anything positive for a community.

    November 19, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  24. Brandy

    Fire the adult, so that he/she can no longer provide for their family, and hire a child to do the labor instead? Crazy!

    November 19, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  25. Dontgothere

    This man is the devil...what an absolutely absurd proposition. Please tell us what you're thinking for those of us who have degrees and no jobs so that we can pay for these kids to stay in school and not have to clean up their classmates' filth! Idiot.

    November 19, 2011 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
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