GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Thursday that “really poor children” have bad work habits and no knowledge of how to make an income “unless it’s illegal.”
Doubling down on his argument that children in poor neighborhoods should be employed as janitors in schools, Gingrich argued that the best way to teach children in poor neighborhoods good working habits is to put them to work as soon as possible.
“Start with the following two facts,” Gingrich said Thursday at a campaign stop in Iowa.
“They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.”
Gingrich said every successful person he knows started working at an early age in explaining his position that schools should hire poor children in their neighborhoods for part-time jobs as assistant librarians or assistant janitors.
“I come around to this question,” he said. “You have a very poor neighborhood. You have kids who are required under law to go to school. They have no money. They have no habit of work. What if you paid them part-time in the afternoon to sit at the clerical office and greet people when they come in? What if you paid them to work as the assistant librarian?”
“What if they became assistant janitors and their job was to mop the floor and clean the bathroom?” Gingrich added.
The comments from Gingrich echo the argument he first made in November, when he called child labor laws that might prevent the hiring of school children as janitors as “stupid.”
“This is something that no liberal wants to deal with,” Gingrich said at the time. “Core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail has done more to create income inequality in the United States than any other single policy.
“It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid.”
There were many people just like Newt Gingrich back in the day.
The Manufacturers Record published an article against attempts to bring an end to child labor (4th September, 1924)
This proposed amendment is fathered by Socialists, Communists, and Bolshevists. They are the active workers in its favor. They look forward to its adoption as giving them the power to nationalize the children of the land and bring about in this country the exact conditions which prevail in Russia. These people are the active workers back of this undertaking, but many patriotic men and women, without at all realizing the seriousness of this proposition, thinking only
of it as an effort to lessen child labor in factories, are giving countenance to it.
If adopted, this amendment would be the greatest thing ever done in America in behalf of the activities of hell. It would make millions of young people under eighteen years of age idlers in brain and body, and thus make them the devil's best workshop. It would destroy the initiative and self-reliance and manhood and womanhood of all the coming generations.
A solemn responsibility to this country and to all future generations rests upon every man and woman who understands this situation to fight, and fight unceasingly, to make the facts known to their acquaintances everywhere. Aggressive work is needed. It would be worse than folly for people who realize the danger of this situation to rest content under the belief that the amendment cannot become a part of our Constitution. The only thing that can prevent its adoption will be active, untiring work on the part of every man and woman who appreciates its destructive power and who wants to save the young people of all future generations from moral and physical decay under the domination of the devil himself.
Appealing to people's consciences to end child labor was unsuccessful.
It took the Great Depression to end child labor nationwide; adults had become so desperate for jobs that they would work for the same wage as children. In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which, among other things, placed limits on many forms of child labor.
It is always about money. The goal of Corporate America is to lower wages, eliminate benefits and unload expenses onto the taxpayer. The obscene income disparity that results is then blamed on the powerless. This method works in America because we are accustomed to dividing ourselves into the haves and have-nots by race. We drown out our guilty consciences by claiming we are morally superior (exceptional) because we are raised in a "Christian democracy."
All photographs are by Lewis W. Hine.