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. kymell

    master janitor, i want my 10 year old son to master the art of cleaning up vomit

    November 19, 2011 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  2. rogervarley

    And you Americans actually elect iditos like this!

    November 19, 2011 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  3. Kindyteacher03

    Gingrich's plan is "truly stupid!" Let's single out the low-income kids even more and have them scrub dirty toilets to make them feel good about themselves as they help pay the rent.

    November 19, 2011 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  4. James

    Right, because we have too few people competing for too many jobs. This makes perfect sense.

    November 19, 2011 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  5. GOP = Greed Over People

    And why waste pepper spray on the OWS protesters, why not just start firing at unarmed folks and killing them like Kent State?

    You moron, and you are supposed to be the "smart one" in GOP?

    I am pulling for Princess Perry, at least that way only 2 folks would die, he would forget to tell 'em to shoot the third!

    November 19, 2011 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  6. Jo

    Yes, another way to kill unions while getting rid of laws that have worked for almost a century. Can, we just call him an idiot instead of having some sorta media discussion where Fox confuses everyone. I can't wait for Obama to destroy these morons.

    November 19, 2011 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  7. hypatia

    Is he planning on having the White House pages double as chimney sweeps, too?

    November 19, 2011 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  8. NODAT1

    Windbag with another not thought out program
    Though this sounds great let the poor kids earn money; all this will do funnel money to some sum bag company that hires kids while paying them in college book coupons

    The program will be underfunded
    Have no real goals
    Not solve any real problems
    Loose all its funds through fraud

    November 19, 2011 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Us truly stupid people figured out that there's more to life than money.

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

    The main reason why Newt shouldn't even allow to be a dogcatcher, let alone the President of the United States. He is as clueless as he is heartless.

    November 19, 2011 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  11. CC

    This is plan is coming from a super wealthy man who has one clue what goes on in schools let alone a low socioeconimic area....this plane is just horrible

    November 19, 2011 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  12. usnavysquid

    Though this idea may sound good, as it echoes off the walls of Newt's cavernous, empty skull, it would further marginalize the poor, especially a group of people which are particularly well-versed in ridicule -kids. If he really wants to come up with a viable solution, he should walk a few miles in the shoes of the poor. In other words he should really spend time with them. Then, he can combine both his sheltered, privileged, Italian loafers perspective with the sheltered, under-privileged worn sneakers perspective.

    November 19, 2011 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  13. Animesh Ray

    Excellent, President Newt! Our conversion to Somalia will be complete when you ascend the throne. Here's what you propose:

    November 19, 2011 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  14. M Diaz

    instead of paying kids to mop floors pay for their education this is 2011 not 1940 when. these kids that Newt wants working have parents that can not get jobs!!! Perhaps Newt can pass on the few of the millions of dollars he has made advising Fanny May and health insurance companies towards educating our poor youth. He can also apply to be the master janitor, Newt is a bright and educated man but he is out of touch with the reality of being poor

    November 20, 2011 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  15. Jon Horton

    Why even pay them? There should be a portion of the day (preferably after school) where all the kids participate in cleanup. This is how the Army works, for the most part. It also keeps kids from trashing the school grounds because it will be THEM to have to clean it up.

    November 20, 2011 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  16. Major Headache

    That's right Newt!
    Repeal all those pesky child labor laws.
    Let those 5 year olds and 10 year olds get a job and work for a living!
    Their schools are bad and their teachers are bad, so the hell with educating them. We still need street sweepers and crop pickers.

    On second thought, how about we keep things as they are and let the kids go to school and learn something first.

    November 20, 2011 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  17. Joe

    how sick and low can republicans be?

    November 20, 2011 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  18. Christine

    So, the idea is to lay off all janitors (in poor neighborhoods) to increase unemployment rates and then employ kids to do the cleaning so that they learn their place in society? Rich kids get a good night sleep, tutoring when they have difficulties, and poor kids get to get up earlier to work. That will ensure they never even get a chance of being more than a janitor.
    Why not have rich kids clean their schools too? That way we could lay off even more janitors and they could learn work ethics too. My experience with graduate students is that the lazy ones are the rich ones, they know Mom and Dad will take care of them. The poor kids are the ones who works hard towards their PhD to get to a higher position in society. Of course, there are exceptions on both sides.

    November 20, 2011 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  19. Bgolds

    Newt finally nailed it– All these years, the arrogant thugs at 'Big Janitor' have been keepin' us DOWN!

    These loons operate under the delusion that there are *tons* of available jobs– enough to even justify overturning child labor laws to ease the burden of unfilled positions! News flash: Maybe in your world in which your mistress has a half-million dollar credit line at Tiffanys, but not in this one.

    Those kidde janitor jobs would be snapped up by *actual* adults who have *actual* bills and a DESPERATE need for money– not just moxie and the desire to earn some after-school money. I recently posted an ad for an open position, and had to pull it down after only about ten minutes– the response was that overwhelming. I got a very well-qualified ADULT as a result.

    Furthermore, what would stop those kids from forming their OWN union.

    Careful what you wish for, Newt

    November 20, 2011 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  20. BILL, WI

    Most janatorial work done at a school is after the kids leave. His plan calls for one senior custodian, how long are the kids supposed to work, one or two hours after school, or when the senior custodian leaves at one o'clock in the morning. That means no time for sports or anyother extracurrular activities, not to mention time to study. But did he mention this is just his plan for poor neighborhoods, rich kids will have their unionized adult custodians.

    November 20, 2011 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  21. Steven Ardo

    Because nothing says pride in your school by singling out poor students and having them scrub the toilets for the other privileged students. Good going, Newt.

    November 20, 2011 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  22. Lynnette Dubois

    Mr Tiffany Account; a charter member of the 1% club now advocates child labor, and the destruction of America's history of organized labor. How about another solution Newt. How about admitting all the Reagan era rhetoric on tax cuts does nothing to promote either a strong economy or a equal society.

    November 20, 2011 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  23. AnyoneButNext

    Wow, what a ridiculous idea. Great way to build self-esteem for poor students, since the other kids will know that you clean up their school.

    November 20, 2011 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  24. nina

    OK, Gingrich so you give all the janitorial jobs in schools across the country to little kids, then what? All the janitors go and join the ranks of the 14 million other unemployed adults because their jobs have been given away? That's silly.

    I understand the intent behind Gingrich's plan, but kids need to focus on school. They need to be at home with their noses in the books studying and doing homework, not at school scrubbing toilets. Making kids work takes away time that should be devoted to studies. Especially if the kids are poor, education is the best ticket out of poverty. Get good grades, go to college and you can make a heck of a lot more money than a janitor.

    November 20, 2011 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  25. mac58

    That would and could work.They could add landscaping, cafeteria, and office help to name a few. I like that Newt just don't say it once.

    November 20, 2011 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
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