May 20, 2019

Child Labor of Love

Caillin Murray is a junior journalism major and staff writer for The Journal

Jobs. This single word, peppered throughout the speech of GOP candidates like “fancy spice” in grandma’s macaroni salad, has become the buzzword every American likes to hear, and every politician revels in saying. Just whisper, “jobs,” softly into the keyhole, and it becomes the magical password that opens wide the gates to the White House. Alright, GOP candidates, who can come up with the most job plans? You have 60 seconds, and your time starts now. Go!
Newt Gingrich, GOP candidate and infamous lady killer — lady killer might be a stretch, but geometry teachers seem to like him — recently proposed a plan to create jobs. It’s a pretty fool-proof plan — thousands of unemployed citizens across the country would have opportunities for employment. Party on, right? But, here’s the catch — the jobs wouldn’t be for you, me or even your step-uncle. Your little brother, you know the one that’s 12 years old and still sleeps with a night-light? Tell him to send in his resume, because Mr. Gingrich is hiring.
Gingrich proposed during a recent speech given at Harvard that instead of letting our children from poor neighborhoods wallow in the poor education they’re receiving at their at-risk schools, we should put those little suckers to work performing janitorial services for the very schools that are failing them.
“It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in child labor laws which are truly stupid,” Gingrich said.
Old Newt wants to lower the legal age and allow children as young as nine to work, as well as do away with previous caps on the number of hours children are able to work each week.
Yes, there it is — Gingrich wants to create jobs. For our children.
Child labor is so 100 years ago, but Gingrich wants to bring it back, much like stirrup pants. Those are still a thing, right?
OK, good work, Newt — you’re creating jobs. But, unfortunately, they would be going to the wrong people. Opening up the workforce to children would actually diminish the amount of employment opportunities in this country. Where would the now unemployed janitors go after being replaced by sixth graders? Job markets are tough enough as it is, but imagine now having to compete against an 11-year-old for that secretary position at Brown and Crouppen Law firm.
“I’m talking about working 20 hours a week and being empowered to succeed,” Newt said in a statement to, “clarify,” the bold propositions he made at Harvard. So, you think you’re doing these kids a favor by cutting short their childhoods and ushering them into the workforce years before such a painful transition is necessary? They have the rest of their lives to punch the clock — why not let a 14-year-old be, I don’t know, a kid? But it’s only through the power of good, hard work that Newt thinks our nation’s poor children can begin, “the process of rising.”
I’m not sure how much social rising a kid can accomplish after performing janitorial services throughout his school years. He or she will learn job skills, yeah, but what else are janitorial skills applicable to but more janitorial work? This would pretty much guarantee that children from low-income households would have a long and prosperous future of cleaning bathrooms. I can’t think of anything else that would further the increasing class gap in the U.S. Just put the poor kids to work cleaning up after the kids whose parents were rich enough to place them in a private school.
I’m not sure how familiar Mr. Gingrich is with janitorial work, but when I think of cleaning with harsh chemicals all day and moving heavy machinery, the words, “child friendly,” don’t exactly pop into mind.
Here’s a radical idea: how about instead of trying to fix the children attending these failing schools, we fix the schools?
What if I send a formal request/job application to Newt?  My apartment is a wreck and my laundry needs to be done. Hey, Mr. Gingrich, is it cool if I just hire your grandchildren? They’ll be learning important job skills — cleaning out a dirty refrigerator and getting the smell of vodka out of a carpet — applicable to making a luxurious living as any profession they choose, so long as it’s a maid.
But a little birdie told me told me there’s no way in hell that’s going to happen, before it shit on my desk and flew off. It’s a shame I have no Gingrich children to clean it up for me.

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