Gingrich Doubles Down On Saying Child Labor Laws Are Stupid

Newt Gingrich has gotten a lot of flak for saying that some child labor laws are kind of stupid. The thing is, though, that he’s right. And he’s not backing down from his comments:

GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich defended his stance against certain child labor laws during a campaign stop in Iowa Thursday, saying that children born into poverty aren’t accustomed to working unless it involves crime.

“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed.

“They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal,” he added.

The former House Speaker’s comments come weeks after he came under fire for saying laws preventing child labor in America were “truly stupid” and suggested that schools fire janitors and replace them with working class students.

Obviously, kids should be protected from being exploited. Nobody wants kids working in dangerous jobs, nor should kids be treated like slave labor. But our child labor laws are more than a little overbearing and getting worse (just look at the Department of Labor trying to regulate farm kids out of existence).

I think most of us would agree that it’s better for someone to earn their way in the world than to be dependent on government entitlements. Why should that be any different from kids? Are we saying that it’s better for a kid to get government assistance than work a job and get paid?

I’ve dealt with child labor laws while doing hiring at some of my jobs in the past, and they’re a real headache. The work restrictions are really, really tight and the paperwork is a pain. And if you make a mistake, if the kid ends up working a little over time, the consequences can be severe.

This makes hiring kids prohibitive, to the detriment of all involved.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Lmlucier

    Interesting Rob, your point of view and perspective is helpful. I still will NEVER support Newt. He is a liberal.

    • Cherz1967

      Newt doesn’t want your support.  You are an extremest.

  • The Whistler

    I think the laws are (or were) well meaning but like most things they’ve gone too far.

    • Rob

      Obviously, nobody wants to see kids victimized.  But if they want to work, if they need to work, why are we inhibiting that?

      • Jamermorrow

        The reality is wages are going to drop dramatically in real terms. Kids will be working out of need in the near future. 

      • Davoarid

        “Obviously, nobody wants to see kids victimized.”

        Nobody’s forcing them to work. And they’d be receiving a fair wage in return for it.

  • 2hotel9

    What government is doing concerning people under 18 working is a major part of the problem. One thing I actually agree with Gingrich on.

  • headward

    Get rid of child labor laws and the min wage.  This will get the economy going.

    • WOOF

      How will two eight year olds, taking your job, working for burgers and fries, stimulate the economy?

      • realitybasedbob
      • 2hotel9

        Ah, look, woofie and boob are here to spew sh*t, as usual.

      • Jamermorrow

        Kids won’t take peoples job. That is just ridiculous. Most kids have no job skills, verbal skills, or the physical abilities. Wages are a price like anything else. They represent the price for labor. Prices get bid up during the boom times and must fall once the boom ends. Minimum wages laws keep young people from developing job skills. So many kids now days that don’t even know how to clean or do basic math. Skills they would have learned from beginners jobs. Minimum wage hurts marginal workers because nobody will hire them because it is not worth paying them even minimum wage. 

    • borborygmi

      Will the prices go down also so the people on min wage can buy something?  

      • Jamermorrow

        Absent the printing of  money prices would generally fall which is a good thing for poor people. Falling prices is a good thing contrary to popular belief. Wages are a price but wages generally don’t change as quick as commodity prices or consumer good prices. This is why poor and middle class get wiped out during inflationary periods. 

  • Game

    First off, I do agree that labor laws should be amended, however, let us not forget that Uncle Newt is the same guy who in 1995 wanted poor kids put into orphanages, and now he wants them lazy bastards getting a job and supporting themselves, because their families are lazy.

    This guy should get the family values vote.

  • borborygmi

    Firing adults supporting their families so kids can work………So the employer can pay less no doubt and the adults supporting their families can go on welfare.   What did the janitors do to piss off the conservatives.              
           The regs on farm kids are bs.  Those are kids working within the family  owned business.

    • realitybasedbob

      This is truly the gop recurring wet dream. America pre New Deal.

      Go for it nutters!
      Campaign your cold little hearts out.

      Repeal Medicare!
      Repeal Medicaid!
      Repeal child labor laws!
      Re-institute debtor’s prisons.
      Privatize everything.

      • borborygmi

        They do seem to have a love for the late 19th and early 20th century.   I don’t think there were as many janitors around then.    I am betting that if you would look up the history of child labor there were a bunch of conservatives pissed because they lost there cheap labor.    Newt probably has the iconic pictures of the kids covered in coal dust hanging around his office so he can remember the good old days. ” We need little johnny because he can get into those small spots.       Child labor is also a twofer for the Conservatives.  If they are working they don’t need an education thus they can shut down more schools.
            If they could just figure out how to keep the women folk barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen without the ability to vote they might hit nirvana and get tingly feelings running up and down their legs.
          Perhaps the Conservatives should move to Mexico where you can see the little tykes hauling five gallon buckets of dirt up the hills to selling chiclets and smokes to the tourists.   
            I am still trying to figure out why Newt is so ticked off at janitors.

        • Scott

          Do some research, it’s good for the mind. Child labor laws began in England when senior male workers at textile mills formed a coalition (in other words, a “union”) to keep children from taking their jobs. In the court they got doctors to testify against child labor in return for high paying positions as factory inspectors. In addition they got ministers to testify due to their desire to have more children enrolled in the schools they ran. Ah, so much for the “public good”.

          • borborygmi

            The Victorian era became notorious for employing young children in factories and mines and as chimney sweeps.[6] Child labour played an important role in the Industrial Revolution from its outset, often brought about by economic hardship, Charles Dickens for example worked at the age of 12 in a blacking factory, with his family indebtor’s prison. The children of the poor were expected to help towards the family budget, often working long hours in dangerous jobs for low pay,[7] earning 10-20% of an adult male’s wage. In England and Scotland in 1788, two-thirds of the workers in 143 water-powered cotton mills were described as children.[8] In 19th-century Great Britain, one-third of poor families were without a breadwinner, as a result of death or abandonment, obliging many children to work from a young age.   
                  Newts and the Conservatives  “good ole days”.   Please, please , please make this a major plank of your party.

      • Paul Overby

        Almost! Good Try! OK, my turn. 

        Repeal Medicare!
        Repeal Medicaid!
        Repeal a few child labor laws!
        Don’t Re-Institute Debtor’s prisons. 
        Privatize almost everything.

  • Davoarid

    “Obviously, kids should be protected from being exploited.”

    But kids can work for less money than adults, which will mean more profit for the corporations (ie: they can reduce labor costs), which will in turn create more money for their shareholders, and more *good* jobs for adults.

    Or are you saying that society should value certain principles more highly than job-creation?

    Because if that’s the case….then you’ve just figured out why liberals hate Wal-Mart.

  • WOOF

    GOV’T AGENT: “I need a list of your employees and how much you pay

    RANCHER: ”Well, there’s my hired hand who’s been with me for 3
    years I pay him $200 a week plus free room and board.
    Then there’s the mentally challenged guy. He works about 18 hours
    every day and does about 90% of all the work around here.
    He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy
    him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night so he can cope with life.
    He also sleeps with my wife occasionally.”

    GOV’T AGENT: “That’s the guy I want to talk to – the mentally
    challenged one.”

    RANCHER: “That would be me.”

  • Sp

    His comments appear to just be racist screed.  Show us they have fuckall to so with child labor laws.  Your post doesn’t.

  • dirka dirka

    As Obama outdid Bush in wrecking our Constitution and Bill if Rights, Gingrich will outdo Obama. Look up his voting record and his philosophy. Don’t listen to his BS on MSM. Sean Hannity fauning all over him doesn’t make him credible for POTUS.