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. Katie

    Seriously? This man is a joke.

    November 19, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  2. kenny

    as a lib this idea sounds insane and is rife with problems. However after some consideration this is a solution that would realistically work. As much as we'd like it to be, life isn't fair and as much as i'd like to think we would do things to make life more fair, we don't. So while rich kids and middle kids get allowances and do whatever they want, poor kids should at least be given something and if its a job that takes them away from the idleness that most rich and middle kids enjoy so be it. in the end they will learn much more than the rich and middle kids and live more productive lives and do better then their parents which is all that anyone seems can hope for.....

    November 19, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  3. Jane

    ....You know what? On second thought, garbage like this doesn't really merit a response from anyone with a triple digit IQ. I would imagine quite a few people are going to be speechless in the sight of such rampant arrogance.....

    November 19, 2011 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  4. Laurie

    This is a little disturbing. I hope he doesn't bring up plantations next. I don't think a 9 year old poor child needs to be cleaning schools.

    November 19, 2011 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  5. c

    WOW so an education is wasted if you are poor and you have no hopes of getting out of it so you might as resign yourself to a minimal wage job such as cleaning toilets and flipping burgers. And I guess rich children do not have to learn any work ethics because well they are rich so they dont need to work. And the best thing about this plan is that we do away with another pesky union that tries to ensure fair treatment of its workers. Child labor laws are in place so children are not exploited and so they can get an education and add to the collaborative thinking of the next generation. your solutions sentences those children into a poverty level of existence and it keeps society as a whole unable to compete globally with other nations who value their education and their youth.

    November 19, 2011 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  6. Diogenes

    The liberals will never allow something that makes this much sense to pass. People could build self esteem, earn for school and make something out of their life, but then they would have a career and become conservative to keep some of what they worked so hard to earn. So no liberals need to quash this thinking, send in the camels to beat this concept back. 4 legs bad, 2 legs better

    November 19, 2011 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  7. sdfafd

    Sounds like the next step in the grand plan to make the middle class into the poor and turn them into peasant work.

    November 19, 2011 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  8. FGFM

    Gingrich wants black kids to work as janitors, go figure.

    November 19, 2011 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  9. Pattir58

    And we are educating students now to pick up trash? Wow that is an incentive for poor youth!!! OMGoodness!!! I cannot believe this man said that!!! And he thinks he can be President of the free world.. Oh my!!! I did work when I was 16; I had a work permit back in the day and I worked for the Catholic Youth Oraginization as a Counselor.. I made a $1.00/day.(Memories of "bug juice and is too vivid) I made $45 dollars over the summer.. No wealth.. just the best experience of my life. I support the 99% all over the world. My husband and I are in that 99% and we are proud!! We are union and proud union!! They don't take our money; we give our moneytothem to represent us!!!

    November 19, 2011 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  10. David

    Wow, let's step back 100 years with Newt's plan to put young children to work. What an idiot.

    November 19, 2011 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. Clown

    This guy is stupid

    November 19, 2011 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. Isaac

    I think that sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea actually

    November 19, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  13. Kevin O. are you thinking?

    You don't go and make child labor okay and then not think about the emotional scarring that will take place.

    Are you forgetting how cruel children can be? Especially to Custodians?

    What is your plan? Have them clean during school hours where they can be mocked freely or after school when they should be studying and/or performing extra-cirricular activities?

    Also, who are you to dictate what a child does when you couldn't even hold your marriage together?

    November 19, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  14. 16halo

    Poor kids need to hold down a job and earn an incomes besides going to school, but they also need to learn a work ethic. Yeah, right Newt.

    He is a prime example of what is wrong. The wealthy, powerful and influential like Newt seems to believe that their position somehow gives them more insight into people who are not in their position (the poor) and that he is somehow enriched with enlightenment and knows what poor people need. No thanks Newt. Your wealth, position and power does not make you or anyone else like you in anyway ordained by a higher power to somehow lead and be an example to those who are not.

    November 19, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  15. ramosdr

    Great idea, we could even give all poor kids time off from school, maybe half a day, so they could work for his rich family, and they can stay poor forever.i

    November 19, 2011 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  16. Henry

    It is always interesting and sad to see the wealthy try to express understanding and sympathy for those who are not wealthy. They just don't get it.

    November 19, 2011 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  17. Jimmy-James

    How about we just start them out at four? That method has worked great in sweatshops. Then only the privileged kids won't have to work. Just like the good, ole days!

    November 19, 2011 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  18. Terry Gloege

    Way to go Newt – it's about time we, as a nation, take 25 giant steps backward. No wonder people think you're so darn smart!!

    November 19, 2011 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  19. Lx

    This is stupid. Now, you want to segregate kids in school based on their parent's income. This plan is to further exploit poor kids at school. Have them clean school for what price? Have kids work instead of their parents for low prices. This saves money so that you can kill the plan to increase taxes on Multi-millionaires, after all you don't care about america. Go for it and make America like China. That's what they do in China, exploit child labor.

    November 19, 2011 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  20. trashcup

    Nice talk from a guy that gets $25,000 a month for years from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, HUGE amount of money because he knows some people in Washington. Ridiculous. Credit line at Tiffany's so his wife can buy $500,000 worth of jewelry?

    He has absolutely NO CLUE how poor people live, work, survive.

    Wonder who cleans his office? Who cleans his house? When did HIS KIDS go out and get a job? He needs to go out and find some poor young teenagers and hire them with all of his money.

    November 19, 2011 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  21. Kevin O.

    Also I would like to add I was one of the kids who had a job at 11. I joined the military after high school and retired at the age of 38. I'm 40 now and love that my parents taught their children discipline and the value of the dollar.

    But Newt, being a Custodian is VERY different from washing cars and a paper route.

    Also, smacks forehead, who reads newspapers any more?

    November 19, 2011 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  22. James B

    Wow! Lets fire the adults, hire children and pay them below minimum wage. Republican politicians are a modern day Scrooges. Sadly, this idea is being floated just weeks before Christmas.

    November 19, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  23. Thad

    why not if you poor sell your kids as the same thing GingRICH! better yet let poor people clean the #$##$ of the wealthy shoes..the man has no clue

    November 19, 2011 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  24. Kevin O.

    And what is going to help a child by cleaning a school where the teachers are inferior?

    How does that make sense?

    "My skool iz kleen!!!" Oh lovely.

    November 19, 2011 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  25. Fred

    Oh doesn't even deserve a comment. This dimwit won't be the nominee or President anyway.

    November 19, 2011 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
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