Gingrich: Laws preventing child labor are 'truly stupid'
November 19th, 2011
07:38 PM ET
9 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. jose jimenez

    It is true, I started working at 14 at the Boston Public Library fo th summer and then at McDonalds, I taught myself to save money and my mother taught me not to expect anything but to earn everything.

    November 19, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  2. Bryan

    Its a wonderful idea.

    I'm worried about potential abuses however. Mainly, over-working kids, eligibility, SAFETY (especially if these kids are in schools after hours).

    Planned, organized, supervised and implemented correctly it could work!

    The kids will learn some work ethic, have a vested interest in their school (at least more than they did), and earn some money.

    Having a job early in high school was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me in regards to teaching work ethic(lets face it HS does not teach any work ethic of any sort)...other than splitting wood at my parents cabin for 5 hours....

    November 19, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  3. josie

    ?? are all the GOP candidates on a path to self-destruct ??

    November 19, 2011 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  4. Michael

    Maybe when they grow up they can even become a congressman, or maybe ven a lobbyist with a 500k account at Tiffany's ? Sure hope those poor kids can grow up and feel like they are a part of the establishment.

    November 19, 2011 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  5. Mike Jackiw

    Anyone who thought that the GOP candidates weren't working to turn us into China? Well here is your proof. What next Newt, sweatshops? What about putting them back into mines to get into small ore areas? Or how about cleaning your house instead of illegals?

    Newt Gingrich just showed how he is the 1% and wants the 99% to be their slaves.

    November 19, 2011 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  6. Alan

    Allowing teens to work is acceptable if there are strong enough laws in place to prevent exploitation of young people and provisions which do not permit work to take precedence over education. Obviously a country would not be well served by encouraging large numbers of children to skip education in order to start to build a personal fortune at an early age. Work can definitely build character but the choice, especially for the disadvantaged, should never be between work and education in a nation as rich as the U.S.

    November 19, 2011 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  7. jazzrico

    Gingrich just killed his own campaign

    November 19, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  8. Rob

    Gingritch is an idiot

    November 19, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  9. Gingrich is a Hypocrite

    I'm a Republican, but if Gingrich is nominated, I'm voting for Obama. At least Obama doesn't chaet on his wife.

    November 19, 2011 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  10. ThePreacherTheTeacher

    And what does he plan to do with the people who clean schools now? The ones who are grown up and need the job to feed their families?

    November 19, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  11. Kathy

    I'm sure the "poor kids' appreciate offer to "...begin the process of rising" by cleaning up after the rich kids. I guess if you aren't growing up poor there's no need for a strong work ethic.

    November 19, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  12. Aaron

    So, poor kids have bad work ethics? You want them to be Janitors? You are a fat idiot!How about making sure that the poor schools don't look like poor schools? Inside and out. A school in a neighborhood where the kids are from "Poor" families should look no different than one where the parents are upper income. This isn't Robin Hooding, this is providing an equal education. If tax dollars targeted for schools in a state were then placed in a single account and then doled out equally, we would not be having these conversations. I also believe that districts should make an effort to get corporations to sponsor a school each. You want a corporate tax break? Sponsor a school.

    November 19, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  13. carolina

    I can't even believe he said this.

    November 19, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  14. BobM

    What does a millionaire republican know about impoverished neighborhoods and students from poor families? Students have a job: to go to school and do homework.

    November 19, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  15. Wintermute

    Newt happens to be exactly right about this. "Progressive" reformist overkill has messed this country up.

    November 19, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  16. JoeJoethedogfacedboy

    A candidate proving once have no idea how the real world works. Besides the obvious flaws, how does laying off unionized custodians help the unemployment rate?

    November 19, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  17. Kent Mitchell

    This wouldn't be a bad idea except that it comes from someone who get millions from just being "available"! Share the wealth you putz...

    November 19, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  18. Kay

    Newt doesn't have a chance at the nomination, too many people remember his jerkish behavior during the 80s, such as divorcing his wife while she was in the hospital with cancer. He's simply the flavor of the week so the GOP can pretend that Mitt Romney isn't the only halfway viable candidate in the group. And even he has no chance of defeating Obama.

    November 19, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  19. kenny

    Newt needs to get a job cleaning toilets and the first toilet he should clean is the toilet right under his nose.

    November 19, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  20. Mitt Romney

    Newt Gingrich – Fast forward USA to 3rd world country

    November 19, 2011 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |

    Child labor laws "truly stupid."?!? Newt is Truly an Idiot!!

    November 19, 2011 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  22. cluck

    Child labor laws were passed to keep children out of dangerous factories but what do they want now families to send their kids there for income?

    November 19, 2011 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  23. Irene Mead

    So, our 'beloved' Newt distorts Obama's statement about POLICYMAKERS being lazy by not taking a more global view, earlier, and says that Obama meant that Americans are lazy (No, Newt, it's YOU). Now he thinks making our poorest kids clean johns will impart work ethics and pride. Only someone in the top 1% would be so dismissive. He has no clue how much the 99 % are hurting. We need the jobs HE and his CORPORATE BEDFELLOWS sent abroad! VOTE THEM OUT!

    Bush had 8 years to dig this pit; shouldn't Obama have the same time to get us out?

    November 19, 2011 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  24. s

    Current child labor laws are "truly stupid"? Huh. I guess someone really doesn't want to be president.

    I wonder if Mr. Gingrich ever sold newspapers, sold items door to door, washed cars, or did janitorial work to make money, either as a child or an adult? I doubt it.

    November 19, 2011 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  25. chris kempf

    So much has been made of birth places..., just where was Newt Gingrich born? Has anyone seen his birth certificate.., the long version? That really needs to be done. That name sounds just a little foreign. And, which of the 400 or so brands of Christianity support him and his child labor theory? Seems like you can't get anywhere in the Republican party without it. Then again, it seems to be failing Ms. Bachman and Gov. Perry.

    November 19, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
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