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. Annette Smith

    I thought this guy was supposed to know something about history! Apparently he missed the chapter on the the reason we have Child Labor laws!

    November 19, 2011 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  2. mctaket

    Of course... let's start them out where they'll end up eventually. Why spend those hours studying for a better future when you can scrub toilets for a few dollars? Really Newt? Really? I am speechless...

    November 19, 2011 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  3. newmac

    Oh yeah, great thinking, take the kids DAD, who is a custodian at the school and trash his job, put him on unemployment and food stamps and oh, no retirement. Then send his kid in to do "his" job for peanuts. No union to pay no retirement, lower wage. Oh yeah good thinking. Do the world a favor newt..shut up.

    November 19, 2011 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  4. Jon


    November 19, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  5. Kate65

    Ah, yes of course. Fire an adult (who may or may not be a member of a union) who is trying to survive and raise their family while doing "dirt" work for crap wages, and hire a child. And just when is this child supposed to study and do their homework.....on their coffee (milk) break. Remember when the Reagan administration determined that ketchup was "a vegetable" so that they could claim it as a part of the hot food lunch program? This, of course, from the "leader of the pack" who was trying to impeach President Clinton because he "lied" about an affair, while having an affair himself. If this doesn't smack of hypocrisy what does?

    November 19, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  6. tjlnsd

    NIke might even move their factories back to the USA! After all, if it's good enough for Pakistan and all those East African countries. Look how successful their economies are!!!

    November 19, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  7. BlackDynamite

    GOP Innovation at work I see.......

    November 19, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  8. Pam Jolly

    So why limit this wonderful, character building jobs to just poor children. Expand this model to every school and require every child to take part.

    Is this guy for real? What century is he from and when will he go back there.

    November 19, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  9. Independent voter

    Only they make a lot more money being drug mules. You don't need a formal education for that job either.

    November 19, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  10. pgurney

    I have to agree with him. I was working at a very early age, and it instilled in me a strong work ethic, I made my own money, and took pride in what I did. And there's nothing wrong with flipping burgers. I did it, so can they.

    November 19, 2011 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  11. Andrewx80

    Good Idea.. Fire the Janitor trying to make a descent living supporting his kids then higher his kids for $2.50/HR so they can support the whole family instead rather than encoring him to study, get an education and a better job.. so that way when he is old enough to have kids himself you can fire him from his School Janitor job. .. oh yeah if he then tries to protest you can just spray him in the face with mace and call him lazy...more great 1% republican solutions for this country!! Just what we need.

    November 19, 2011 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  12. Pattir58

    This guy is an idiot.

    November 19, 2011 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  13. newmac

    The more I think about RICH kids to clean the school, teach them about the REAL world. Without cutting the "real" workers of course.

    November 19, 2011 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  14. mangoz

    God...these presidental hopefuls are scaring me.

    November 19, 2011 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  15. Dandy

    Newt is a Nitwit. Why don't they instead for for Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae and make millions for providing next to nothing?
    Newt lives in a fantasy world.

    November 19, 2011 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  16. Mark

    I am with Newt on this one.

    November 19, 2011 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  17. Mike Nike

    Of course he would like Children to clean the schools for minimum wage. Then Washington would save money.

    November 19, 2011 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  18. Dr. Wendy

    Seriously?? Who, with an IQ over 30, would vote for this idiot for President?? He is being blatantly honest here and this should scare EVERYONE! He would hire 10-year-olds to mow his lawn and clean his pool and deep down really believe he is doing a good thing for these children...??? He wants the elitists to make money on the backs of the disenfranchised, the vulnerable, the poor, and then be THANKFUL for the opportunity! Wake up America!!

    November 19, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  19. themommygap

    That's a stupid idea. When I was a kid and got "free" lunches through no fault of my own in Colorado I had to work in the cafeteria. You're already embarrassed, yea lets give people MORE reason to pick on you and call you out for the accident of your birth. Fabulous!

    November 19, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  20. Jim

    Seems like he's saying that we should put cleaning staff out of a job. Classy.

    November 19, 2011 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  21. Gino

    Grinch: back to the nineteenth-century poorhouse and child labor. What an historian. We have been there, done that, and it took almost two centuries to repair the damage. Newt (the newt) has no young children, so he does not care about yours. Let's give him 36 million dollars to clean blackboards. (Or maybe 65 cents an hour.) Does this clown know what child labor has meant historically: slave wages and putting adults out of work so the 99% can relax in luxury with their half million dollar Tiffany credit lines to give third consort (courtesan) jewelry worthy of the prince he thinks he is.

    November 19, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  22. pn

    I say we should have them digging for coal.

    November 19, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  23. Donkey Party

    Nail, meet coffin...

    November 19, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  24. Tom

    I got a better idea... Why not have the rich kids clean the school for free??

    What a jerk. So the poor kids would be in put in their place as servants, just as the rich would like them to be?

    November 19, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  25. azmary

    I guess Mr. Gingrich wants to return us to the 1850's. Maybe we can get those "poor kids" to drop out of school to become full-time janitors and save the taxpayers the cost of their education. With his ideas we could be like Haiti in one generation. That "pride in school" is a new one to me. Maybe the non millionaire members of congress could clean the Capitol, sweep streets in D.C. and help keep up the national parks in their home states to develop a "pride in the U.S". Tthe millionaires would be excused because they already have enough pride. I am sure all of the "poor" kids will really enjoy being heckled by their classmates, especially the "rich" kids who will be able to trash the school to their heart's content, because they already have pride in their school according to his premise.

    November 19, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
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