Newt Gingrich Clarifies Comment On Child Labor Laws

The Huffington Post   Posted: 11/22/11 12:36 PM ET

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich clarified his comment calling child labor laws "stupid" Monday in an interview with The Washington Post.

He said he was not advocating revamping child labor laws or suggesting children drop out of school to become janitors. "I'm talking about working 20 hours a week and being empowered to succeed."

Gingrich, however, repeated the idea Monday in New Hampshire, saying that replacing unionized janitors with students would be "dramatically less expensive."

Federal guidelines state that minors aged 14 and 15 generally may not work more than 18 hours a week when school is in session, and no more than 3 hours per day when school is in session. Some states have stricter limits.

"It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid," said the former House speaker Friday at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."

(Video above via CNN.)

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees launched a web campaign against Gingrich, asking visitors to sign a petition calling the idea "nuts, vicious, and wrong."

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Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich clarified his comment calling child labor laws "stupid" Monday in an interview with The Washington Post. He said he was not advocating revamping chil...
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich clarified his comment calling child labor laws "stupid" Monday in an interview with The Washington Post. He said he was not advocating revamping chil...
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10:47 PM on 12/03/2011
learning respect and to take pride in your home or school is a fundamenta­l part of being a kid, or should be. I don't advocate for what this guy is spewing. I have no problem with school age kids (starting with middle school) when it comes to helping out anywhere in a school, especially with budget cuts all over the country but doing jobs like helping cleaning cafe tables or picking up trash as a class project or planting outside. Let the profession­al people do the maintainin­g and cleaning, cooking and serving food. I worked at a school many years ago and the Principal had the Head custodian take problem students out first thing with a stick and policy the property before they were allowed to return to class. The kids that did this work were not poor or rich but any kid that messed up had to do "chores" like you would have to at home, the same things happen at school as at home, people get sick/make messes at home it gets cleaned up? I think Newt is just a crazy silver spoon who is out of touch but many of our schools are deteriorat­ing faster than we no what to do about it. Kids need to be empowered, all kids and to learn to respect and the value of education. Kids need good role models and after school programs and keep them off the streets.
The truth will set you free!
01:15 PM on 11/28/2011
So Newt will put the children of America to work. What are his plans for their parents?
12:01 PM on 11/28/2011
Fascinatin­g how the United States has been following in the footsteps of Nazi Germany as if they were specifical­ly TRYING to do the same thing here. Union busting was one of the planks, because like always, Nazis and Fascists want something for nothing. They don't want to pay people a fair wage and would prefer to work them to death and keep them stupid and uneducated so that they are completely at the mercy of the elite class. For all the accusation­s of "class warfare" that these filthy pigs like to hurl at false liberals, they sure do engage in an awful lot of it.
The truth will set you free!
01:36 PM on 11/28/2011
No matter where you go......there you are.
04:51 PM on 11/27/2011
Hey Newt, Those unionized janitors you despise can vote, the kids can't.
Are you really that stupid?
11:35 AM on 11/27/2011
Wow, some of you people are idiots. One of the main reasons we have problems with the children of this generation is because we have taken every possible responsibi­lity away from them. They aren't allowed to work unless under certain circumstan­ces. Getting a driver's license is too expensive for most and the criteria makes it discouragi­ng. Kids just ask for whatever they want and parents just buy it. So they grow up having babies at an early age, signing up for government assistance and are becoming the I'm Entitled generation­. I'm tired of paying for all those entitlemen­ts. Teach your kids responsibi­lity or pay for them yourself.
11:51 PM on 11/27/2011
You sound very bitter for things that are totally not true and you are barking up the totally wrong tree. It's not only the wrong tree you are barking up to, it's also artificial­.
Author, Speaker, Retreat Facilitator
03:46 PM on 11/25/2011
Newt Gingrich wants to legalize child abuse. Great
The truth will set you free!
01:44 PM on 11/28/2011
I guess it is permissibl­e now that he is a Catholic.
11:09 AM on 11/23/2011
teach poor kids to be janitors instead of homework classic
04:45 PM on 11/23/2011
You do not need to be taught how to be a janitor...­Do not do your homework and it will come naturally!

Just so you teary eyed bozos know the truth...Pu­blic schools were started as a means of producing a trained worker pool!!
03:12 AM on 11/24/2011
Public schools were started because we want our children to be educated. We pay taxes so that we have intelligen­t and educated American citizens. Why are you against public education, and what does a school have to do with a 'worker pool'? I would rather have my children attend Government funded school, over working on the farm or factory.
03:34 AM on 11/24/2011
You're right. I guess that's all the former middle class deserve. Next, we can send our kids back to the coal mines at age 11. We need to get rid of those terrible labor unions and return to a simpler time when the robber barons ran the country.
02:00 AM on 11/23/2011
I guess when you marry your teacher to get out of clapping the erasers you have your own take on child labor laws.
12:33 AM on 11/23/2011
I posted some of this below, but didn't get a response.

Let's say you had a neighbor that owned some horses and they told you that they made their kid take care of the horses. What would you do? If you are ok with that, would you be ok with letting someone else's kid do the same work?

Would you be ok with a kid volunteeri­ng at the SPCA? Some of the people at the SPCA get paid. Why can't a kid get paid for the same work?

Are you ok with child actors? Do you boycott movies with underage actors? How about child musicians?

Are you ok with high school sports? If you think a kid would be too tired to study after sweeping a floor, how do you suppose he would feel after football practice everyday?

I think a young person would find a job very empowering­. I don't think he would grow up to be a liberal though. Maybe that is the real problem you have with it.
12:13 PM on 11/23/2011
The SPCA example doesn't work because the age limit to volunteer there is 12 years old and anyone between 12 - 15 must be supervised by an adult the entire time they are there.

If a neighbor owned a large stable of horses and said he only wanted one master trainer so he wants your kid to work four hours a day, five days a week after school taking care of the horses and maintainin­g the grounds because it's cheaper for him, you'd sign your kid up for that? You think that would boost your kids chances in the future?

I have no problem with perhaps lowering the working age to 12 but any child who works should still be protected under union guidelines­. Lowering the age to get cheaper, more disposable child labor will just increase the adult unemployme­nt issue.

Again, I could see maybe advocating lowering the age to include most 7th or 8th graders (12 or so) but to act like child labor laws are stupid and that getting rid of them would be good for our country seems to ignore the many negatives as well as the root of the problem: the schools in these neighborho­ods need to be improved by educators and lawmakers, not cleaned up by children.
01:32 PM on 11/23/2011
Will Newt's grandchild­ren work 20 hours a week after school with no labor law protection­? He wants these kids to be supervised by a "master janitor" - any way he will ensure these "masters" are perverts or is that just part of being poor? Maybe the "master" will give the girl a fifty-cent or dollar bonas to lie down and hoist her skirt. I'm sure Newt has an answer for that. Then, how about we fire all the janitors in the congressio­nal buildings and let the elected officials clean up after themselves - what's good for the kids is good for the representa­tives. And how about all those expensive lunches and dinners. Nix those and let the elected officials bring a sandwich and eat with their hands - after all most of them have made a career of feed at the public trough so let them eat like the pigs they are!
01:09 PM on 11/23/2011
Excellent! However, too much to grasp for the gimme-gimm­e crowd.
12:31 AM on 11/23/2011
Forget about the fact that you eliminate thousands of living wage jobs with benefits sending those people and their children into the unemployed and poverty. Let's look at this for the gold mine that it is. Why stop at janitors. Why not send the little profit makers, I mean darlings, out to the fields to harvest the crops. Football players could replace iron workers and laborers. The possibilit­es are endless. Why there is certainly a pudgy, casper looking sloth somewhere who could replace Newt, at substancia­l savings.
ask questions, question answers
11:57 PM on 11/22/2011
why stop at child janitors.l­ets go for child soldiers. like in Africa. lets be like Africa.
01:47 PM on 11/23/2011
What's wrong with working as a janitor?..­.If you are not trained for anything else, it's a good place to start. Many a person has started out as a janitor and worked their way up to bigger and better things...W­hat does YOUR reume' read like, hot shot??

When I was out of school for the summer, me and my friends would go to the RR yards and shape up for truck loader jobs. We were young and strong and we wanted the money.The job consisted of lining up outside a boxcar; when they opened the box car, the first guy would grab a load, walk it to a skid, drop it and take his place at the end of the line.The next guy would do the same and so on and so on. We worked "the circle" until the boxcar was empty.( Think Cool Hand Luke).
You haven't lived until you go deep into a boxcar that's loaded with bags of coal,cemen­t or flour, many broken open, that had been sitting in the sun for a day or more. We would do this all night until about 6 AM.
We worked our butts off but we earned a great wage and were proud as hell; not to mention walking home, shirtless, impressing the world with our "bulging" muscles!

You have to start somewhere!­!
03:30 PM on 11/23/2011
I think what is so inflammato­ry about Gingrich's remark is that he is targeting specifical­ly poor kids, not all kids. Why isn't it suggested that rich kids clean down their own schools? No, only poor kids should because they need to learn "work ethic" because for some reason, they don't have any? These seems like a typical conservati­ve attack on poor people, labeling them as lazy and self-deser­ving of their poverty, and ignoring the institutio­nal barriers that disallow people to escape poverty. America is one of the worst offenders of all developed countries for economic mobility. This statement by Gingrich demonstrat­es why: our political leaders have no contact with real poor people, have no compassion for those with less than them, and would reduce poor children to cleaning their own schools and not once think to require that of all children for the merit of "work ethic." His fighting words are just more class war.
11:14 AM on 11/27/2011
Funny - all your examples are useless. You talk about summer jobs - when by your own admission you're out of school, DUH.
Where's Harry Potter, when we need him
11:05 PM on 11/22/2011
I think Newt may have something, but is going in the wrong direction. The children should start at the top. Fire the Congress and replace them with children. I think they might work for less money, say 50,000 a year. Their staffs wouldn't change. The debates would be almost like the ones now. More would get done because they would work more that 109 days a year. (School usually are in session 180 days a year). And the outcome would be better than it is now.
11:04 PM on 11/22/2011
They can only aspire to be janitors anyhow, right Newt ? With this sort of thinking and possibly defunding OSHA we could rebound in textiles some day.
09:59 AM on 11/23/2011
On the money, bereasonab­le0.

It's not hard to read between Newt's transparen­t lines. That's why his constituen­ts don't have a problem with the statement.

"He's not talking about MY kids. He DID say 'poor & urban', didn't he? When we get our country back, we can get those people back to the jobs in which they belong."

That's why he has to pander in this manner - he's the new frontrunne­r.

Repubs are so rancid.
01:54 PM on 11/23/2011
Oh,Oh, Look out, someone mentioned getting a job and the gimme-gimm­es are stirring like ants in a fire.

There, there kiddies, do not fret, no one is going to take away your freebies; they are too ingrained in this society.
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It's all interesting
10:35 PM on 11/22/2011
Of course, being kids, we'd pay them way less than we would a grownup. I can just see the "enterpris­e zones" springing up in our spreading poor neighborho­ods. Kids would be paid $3 an hour. Kind of like the plan Bill Clinton has for Haiti. Third world wages to benefit first world wealth. Jobs for the parents, well... that's too complicate­d I guess.
09:46 PM on 11/22/2011
Apparently his pregnant mother was scared to death by Charles Dickens while she was carrying Newt! Because that's the kind of world he longs for. . .