Newt Gingrich, the current flavor-of-the-month in the GOP Presidential Primary, recently called anti-child labor laws “stupid,” and argued that children in poverty find themselves there because of a lack of opportunities to develop a good work ethic. Proving once again that his reputation as an “intellectual” must’ve been earned ironically, he suggested that schools fire their janitors and hire poor students to fill the role instead, as a solution to this imaginary problem.
Gingrich isn’t the first GOPper in recent memory to question anti-child labor laws. At least a couple of Republicans in Congress have argued in the last few years that such laws should be left up to the States, instead of being decided at the Federal level. Others have argued from a “Free Market” perspective, which opposes regulations in general on the basis of the market ultimately sorting out social injustices. But Gingrich is the first one I’ve noticed in awhile who seems to actually be arguing in favor of child labor itself, instead of against the regulations which prevent it.
I suppose it’s in-line with the Republican philosophies that applaud war and torture, but it still surprised me to hear someone actually raise the child labor banner in this way. Worse still is the conspiracy theory that Gingrich said something so cartoonishly amoral in order to distract people from reports of him taking unofficial bribes to lobby for Freddie Mac, even though he’s criticized government involvement with the doomed firm since. I guess the idea there is that the distraction is so unbelievable that it’d be easier to deal with whatever outrage it might generate than something more easily graspable by the public. Still, it seems to me like responding to accusations of shoplifting by saying you just stabbed a puppy to death. Perhaps Newt should’ve stuck with the ‘jerk store’ line instead…
By the way, before anybody points it out, I did realize after coloring this that I made Gingrich’s head look awfully phallic. This was not intentional, but now that I can’t unsee it, I have to admit it seems pretty appropriate, considering the kind of guy he is.