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. Marry

    The observation that the GOP/TP “Candidates” are nothing to brag about is all too evident. And, they manage to add nonsense every day to the mountain of BS they create.
    The latest – Gingrich does not like current child labor laws and said: "making work worthwhile" for children ...and, I might add, a little later: corporations.
    As their parents lose their jobs: …get rid of unionized janitors… Please draw your own conclusions…
    To read “A Christmas Carol” to the GOP/TP we know will not work – but, you can vote them out…

    November 20, 2011 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  2. American

    Amazing that the School of Government would want this fraud to speak there. That his idiotic proposal is given any bandwidth is astounding. He and his GOP frauds want to bust unions. Anything to make more money go to the 1%.

    November 20, 2011 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  3. EvisceronVonStabbenvolf

    Okay, quick question, here.....if schools in the inner city cannot afford to pay minimum-wage custodians to keep the places clean....HOW ARE THEY GOING TO FUND THIS PROGRAM? Further, if these laws are relaxed, this means that the entire national workforce is expanded by about oh, ten million per major city or so, I'd think. Jobs that like immigrant labor are likely to be cheaper, and more easily exploited, as children will not know their rights under law, and will not make educated decisions about their employment. In other words, we're to more or less throw those with college educations already struggling to find employment under the bus, because Newt Gingrich wants to bring back Social Darwinism, and the Industrial Revolution?

    ....and, people WONDER why we claim that the government is entirely disconnected from reality?

    November 20, 2011 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  4. Max

    Or... we could take care of the, provide them with basics and a world class education... like we should. Ging-Rich would like the Victorian times to come back with the very rich and the very poor, and I don't think he's planning on being with the poor majority.

    November 20, 2011 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  5. dreucalypt

    So here's what Republican policy amounts to: return to child labor, break the unions, end workplace safety regulation, and let the big banks run wild.

    November 20, 2011 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  6. Jerry

    Actually not a bad idea. I worked in my junior high cafeteria washing trays for free lunch and my summer job at 14 was cleaning, painting, etc., in the same school.

    One of the few decent ideas I've heard from either side this cycle and it comes from Gingrich; go figure! (Mitt's still got my vote, though.)

    November 20, 2011 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  7. Vance

    Sure Newt! Get rid of all the unionized labor and pay kids slave wages. What do we do with the people you are going to put out of work? Where do those unionized workers go?

    November 20, 2011 04:51 am at 4:51 am |
  8. Stevereeno

    Great campaign slogan,........'When I'm President, we'll put children to work!'

    November 20, 2011 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  9. Cigar Smoker

    Wow! Heck let's not beat around the bush, just bring back indentured servitude and call it what it is...

    November 20, 2011 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  10. Jonathan Esten

    Remember when he wanted to bring back orphanages instead of having a foster care system? Why is this man fixated on abusing children??

    November 20, 2011 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  11. frag


    November 20, 2011 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  12. Anon

    Are you kidding me? How can even Newt sink to this?

    November 20, 2011 05:39 am at 5:39 am |

    Keep talking . The wingnuts will send the blondes after Newt soon.

    November 20, 2011 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  14. CB

    Yea Newt – let’s get those poor kids working
    You will be teaching them great job skills for the future – like how to clean toilets and mop floors.
    They will be helping support their families as one of their parents just lost their job as a custodian at the local school.
    Why stop at just cleaning schools – why don't we get them working in factories, mines and make their minimum wage $2 an hour…
    This system is in place and working well in other countries – like India, Venezuela, Kenya and most other third world countries.
    Newt's ideas and policies seem to resemble what is seen in many third world countries: large difference between rich and poor, poor or no health care, poor or unsafe working conditions, high level of pollution, child labour and insufficient or no public education.
    Is this guy really running for president or is he just enjoying getting the campaign contributions and heading down to Tiffanies.

    November 20, 2011 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  15. JP23

    All right Newt, bringing back child labor. But what about indentured servitude Newt? You might want to keep that option open as well. Or were you taking things one step at a time?

    Both have made many people rich in India and other "developed" countries, so why not here?

    Here's another idea for you.. roll back the law preventing companies from locking all the fire exits. That will keep those lazy workers from taking breaks.

    I think the American public has forgotten why we have all those "unnecessary job killing regulations" by now Newt, so go for it.

    November 20, 2011 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  16. gary

    Really? I am so sure that poor children would just love to clean up after their more affluent classmates. And I am equally sure that the more affluent would be more careful for their lesser economically advantaged classmates.

    Work the poor! Save money from their labor. Work the poor!

    November 20, 2011 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  17. Marie MD

    Yes, newter man, you ARE a simple man. A liar, a cheat but a simple thrice married man.

    November 20, 2011 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  18. mique

    Well, if this isn't the Republican dream! Put children to work and fire all the janitors that are raising families. Then you can hate them for getting food stamps.

    November 20, 2011 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  19. diridi

    you talk of child labor after taking bribe to lobby from Freddie Mac....Idiot...another Reagan idiot...nation's shame, and detriment....

    November 20, 2011 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  20. hsiabai

    Nice. Fire the janitor and then hire his 9 year-old daughter at a fraction of the price. Now I know why everyone puts the word "brilliant" in front of Newt's name.

    November 20, 2011 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  21. wgf

    Just more evidence that the Republican party wants to bring us back 100 years. Once America is totally deregulated and deunionized we will be able to compete with China, Indonesia, etc. for the sweat shop jobs - as long as we compensate the "job creators" for their generosity in the form of reduced taxes.

    BTW... I don't know of any 4th grader who had a job 50 years ago. I wonder what Newt's was.

    November 20, 2011 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  22. Jim Thornton

    You know, it doesn't get any better than this... Newt Gingrich sticking his foot in his mouth, yet once more.

    I keep hearing this guy is a genius... that we should really consider some of his ideas. And then he opens his mouth and removes all doubt. This guy would be like another George W in the White House, only this time, he'd actually think he was smarter than his advisors. Scary thought, that.

    November 20, 2011 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  23. JulesT

    Gingrich for child labor......isn't that nice. Next he will be opening sweat shops for child labor in his own back yard....our maybe ours. PATHETIC.

    November 20, 2011 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  24. Melinda

    Maybe he should get a job! Why is the assumption that all poverty children go to failing schools with failing teachers. Maybe if they let us teach instead of prepping kids for tests, the students could learn more. Congress has failed us. Let's start testing them.

    November 20, 2011 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  25. Ezra5

    This man's idea of what is ethical boggles me. Before child labor laws were enacted and enforced children worked in coal mines and all kinds of other dangerous and poisonous environments and mean life expectancy was 45 years. Unfortunately if Newt's thoughts above are actually implemented only disadvantaged minorities will accept these jobs because of their plight in our free country. Go away Newt. You disappeared for a few years (at least from my view) and it was a pleasure not being reminded that you exist on a daily basis. Please go back to wherever you were during your absence from public life. You have nothing constructive to contribute. Your only appeal is that your ideas are not main stream, some might say radical. I have no fear that you will be our next President although hearing your voice, reading your words and seeing you in pictures and on film turns my stomach. Please go away.

    November 20, 2011 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
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