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. zooni

    Corporate greed wants a society of cheap exploited labor.

    November 19, 2011 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  2. Carole Hicks

    I remember when poor kids had to clean the lunch tables in order to eat. I know that my mother and her sisters did not have food for lunch when they went to school and had to work for their lunch. They were ridiculed, bullied and ostracized by peers (and teachers!!!) THis man is soooooooooooooooo obnoxiiously arrogant, I am about to hyperventilate. SOMEBODY PLEASE ... call him out on this!!!!!

    November 19, 2011 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. Jay

    Most Americans are too sorry to work.

    November 19, 2011 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  4. Dan J

    I don't know if I agree with Gingrich on this, but I do agree that the American work ethic has really diminished over the last few generations.

    November 19, 2011 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  5. robbyspuds

    He needs to go clean the schools.
    leave the children alone. get jobs for their parents

    November 19, 2011 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  6. Loathstheright

    We have coal mines, farm equipment, garbage collection, stock boys that we can bust their unions too with child labor, this is of course the goal of this lizard....I so hate that slimmy Newt.

    November 19, 2011 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  7. Pat in IL

    I can think of soon many reasons why this simplistic and not thought out idea is useless and even dangerous.

    November 19, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  8. Carlos

    No Newt is good Newt.

    November 19, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  9. Robert Ocasio

    I saw and heard the same speech and you are truly twisting his words.

    November 19, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  10. Don

    Gingrich can't help but join the GOP clown parade? He's only he'd the "lead" in the polls for a couple days and he puts his foot in his mouth? The law in most states let's kids as young as 14 work with parent permission. This tub-of-lard should know full well the history of child exploitation and endangerment that led to laws protecting children and mandating public education. Gingrich disgusts me.

    November 19, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  11. shz

    I do not disagree with kids working smaller jobs. Gingrich continues to speak out of his blowhole .12 year old kids acting as custodians which would mean handling hazardous materials and have responsibilities and need knowledge beyond the training typical of a 12 year old. This fat blow hard obviously has no concern for anyone other than the corporations that feed him.

    November 19, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  12. A real American

    Boy, Newt let that cat out of the bag too soon. Of course the GOP wants to get rid of ALL unions and replace the workers with cheap labor. They want to strip away the regulations, get rid of the "pesky" laws governing their businesses, and reduce the taxes on their "hard won" profits. Putting kids back to work is a great idea. It will bring us fully back into the robber baron era when they do away with all of the social services. Do republicans actually believe this is what our country should become? How awful !! Don't they read history?

    November 19, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  13. Babaloo10

    This is truly the man to beat. Despite the fact he doesn't have movie star looks, this man has substance. Some stumbles along the way like many politicians, I still believe Gingrich can help us "raise" this country. His idea in this news story is typical of common sense. If the kids had a chance to clean their schools, it may make a world of difference, not to mention the socializing, ethical and working skills they learn along the way. Don't let the words "poor kids' do anything to screw up your view. ("Rich kids" wouldn't clean schools.... but hey, I would leave it open to ALL kids who wanted to clean their schools and ALL kids should get equal credit--not just the rich. Gingrich just makes sense.

    November 19, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  14. What a DorkNewt-Movement

    Ok, now we know, it's Not the dems or Obama who support 'class war'. It's good old insensitive, idiotic, a-historic, pompous Newt Gingrich!
    The man has no shame and no conscience. He dreams of feudalism and indentured servitude. Do you know what kind of bullying and abuse the kids would be exposed to who do the school cleaning for the rich kids????
    Can you see how the kids will just mess up the facilities for the heck of it, because they know it's the poor kids who'd clean it up?
    You call that a school system that grows citizens for a democracy? Oh no, upper class and the maid class. If I ever thought that Newt really understood something about history, well, now he proved beyond doubt that he is a dim light, only driven by EGO, and a poor slimey ego it is. Have you NO Sense of Shame, Mr?

    November 19, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  15. Butler

    I guess it would be productive to fire janitors who are trying to earn a living to support their families, so that children can be employed at minimum wage or less. What a COLD HARDED son of a _____! Is this the best republicans have to offer? Gingrich already had his 15 minutes. Don't waste your time espousing his demented theories.

    November 19, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  16. Sara

    Wow...Just, wow.

    November 19, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  17. Kenq

    I am a little confused. The assumption being that poor kids don't have work ethic so that is why they are poor? Or, that we should train them how to be janitors so they can stay poor? Or, that every teenage kid will want to get their janitor shirt on at the end of a tough school day and spend 6-8 hours cleaning up after the rich kids. – Are you kidding me!

    November 19, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  18. rudy m

    This Guy is so out of touch...

    Ron Paul 2012

    November 19, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  19. Kiki

    Just when I thought the GOP candidates couldn't stoop any lower. Hey, how about representatives fire their cleaning staff and do it themselves and use the money saved to pay for tutoring and academic enrichment for the children in their districts.

    November 19, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  20. Miss Such-and-Such

    You're right Newt. Rich parents should not be forced to pay living wages to adults in exchange for janitorial services. They should be able to get away with using poor children to do that work, so that their own rich children can have even more money to themselves. This would also solve the problem of poor childred being able to come up in the world and compete with the rich children later on. Too hard to study when you're cleaning rich kids' toilets.

    November 19, 2011 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  21. newt = lizard

    Great idea Newt! Let the kids work for pennies and no bennies. Increase unemployment! Fire the janitors! (they didn't need their jobs anyway) Save not only on salaries but bennies, too. Newt you are a true capitalist pig.

    November 19, 2011 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. Andrew

    So basically put more people out of work and take children's focus away from studying and tell them to clean their school? And who decides who is poor enough to do these 'jobs'? Republicans like to say the Dems are exercising 'class warfare', but it is clear the GOP are the ones continuing to attack the lower and middle classes with stupid ideas like this one.....

    November 19, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  23. Jason

    Gingrich 2012! Its time to bring back serfdom!

    November 19, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  24. lgny

    What fantastic career preparation - teaching them to be janitors. How about hiring them to do jobs that will improve their skills and start them toward careers. Some examples might include: helping in the school library, helping set up labs, ...

    November 19, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  25. ingrid

    The compassionate Newt strikes again. Maybe these kids can work in factories again as soon as they are walking. Why wait. Forget school they have jobs.

    November 19, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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