I started this article out with a picture of what looks like about an 11 or 12-year old boy who is shown taking a picture break from his job in a textile factory in the United States back when there were no such things as child labor laws.
This kid and thousands upon thousands like him worked 11 and 12-hour shifts, maybe seven days a week when business was good. They had extremely low wages (Cents per hour) and they had no health care coverage and they often were forced to work through their breaks and lunch periods. Of course, they all brown bagged their lunches if they had any.
I have read where some factories back then actually locked their doors so that employees could not leave until their shifts were over.
Kids like the one in the picture above worked in hot, dirty and dangerous “Sweat Shop” conditions for supervisors who often treated them no differently than if they were adults.
It was hard. harsh, heart-breaking and terribly dangerous. There are endless horror stories about kids like this getting caught in machinery and mangled to death. When something like this happened, there was rarely if ever a safety investigation and the blame for the death was placed squarely on the fact that the kid had most likely been “Careless.”
Now I have been reading the AFL/CIO News Blog and I see this article where Republican Candidate Newt Gingrich (The candidate who is leading the pack in popularity among Republicans right now according to news reports I have read) has made the statement that child labor laws are “Stupid.”
In the article I am reading, Mr. Gingrich is quoted as saying that schools should get rid of their unionized janitors and hire low-income kids to clean the schools. He is also quoted as saying that age nine is a good time to get a job.
I am assuming, without actually knowing, that under Mr. Gingrich’s plan for the kids to go to work, the rich ones would be cracking books instead of cracking their backs at hard labor.
During this speech that the Republican Candidate for President of The United States was giving to a gathering at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of government, he is also reported to have suggested that putting scrub brushes and floor sanders in the hands of kids and firing school maintenance workers would “Lift Up The Poorest Neighborhoods.”
Mr. Gingrich is further credited with statements suggesting very directly that child labor law entraps poor children into poverty.
When I read crap like this, I begin to understand why I often refer to some of the ideas coming from the Far Right Side of Politics as (Can’t say the words for fear of offending somebody, but you get the idea.).
In the gentlest terms that I can muster so as not to ruffle antibody’s feathers, let me say that I find concepts that would do away with child labor law as patently undesirable. (Is that tame enough for you?)
It is my unvarnished personal opinion that any act to abolish child labor laws and to bring back sweat shop conditions and to allow kids to work at hot, dirty and dangerous hard-labor jobs (Or regular jobs of any kind for that matter), would deny them their rightful education and do irreparable harm to their bodies, minds and spirits. ( Under- Statement of The Year!)
(I am talking about 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., ‘Punch-The-Time-Clock’ type work here folks, not the typical Part Time Delivery Person thing that most people with a heart might envision.
I can understand it if many Republicans desire to institute slave labor in The United States. I can understand it and I can see it in almost every proposal they make or every law they try to pass. I can see it in every job they take away from American Workers and send overseas somewhere.
I have often contended and still maintain that it seems to be that many of the Republicans desire to have every American Worker working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week for $5 day— just like back then (Way back when) and just like some who even now slave away daily in foreign countries…for American task masters.
I really belileve this kind of stuff is great for the bottom line of a lot of greed-mongering Big Business tycoons. I am sure they are eating these suggestions from this Candidate up and are frothing at the mouth and chomping at the big to be legally able to advertise for their first crews of vulnerable, naive kids who need to help their families out a little and who could use the work.
I cannot wait to see the kind of subtle and potentially deceptive advertising campaign that would support that kind of recruitment effort.
I know what a lot of Republicans and Conservatives must be thinking if they happen to read this blog: I am guessing they are wondering why I am so against the poor having the flimsy trailers and shantys for shelter from the elements or why I do not necessarily see a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere as an appropriate place to raise a family.
How wonderful for the idea of the Conservative Utopia if we can finally hire kids to do the hard stuff ! What a day of rejoicing that will be! (Kids will probably be easily convinced to work for far less reward than adults after all because they are often more trusting and can be more easily manipulated and lied to.)
Yes, what a wonderful world it will be when the Far Right and their allies finally are able to get rid of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Welfare and open the floodgates of “Unlimited Employment Opportunities” to the children!
What a wonderful world it will be when there are no more income taxes, no free public education and none of the governmental departments that keep food and air and water safe for human consumption. How great it will be when there are no more price controls and no more minimum wage laws! Why employers can offer “$1.00 a day and all you can eat” to workers they hire for cleaning out their stockyard pens.
If America cannot see the disadvantages in some of the things that some on the far Reicht Wing Extreme are trying to sell to our Citizens, then God help us all!
I definitely am against using child labor for any purpose. The idea (To my way of thinking) is regressive and dangerous. Never in a million years will I ever cast a vote that might be responsible for paying a part in bringing something like that about. But, that is just me! I am old and eccentric, after all!– and a “Godless Liberal” to boot.
This article has been Strictly my personal political opinion like everything I write.
A Little More Reading About It:
Photo Credit – Wikimedia Public Domain Photo