Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 11/21/2011

Gingrich calls child labor laws ‘truly stupid’

UPDATE: At a Monday afternoon speech in New Hampshire where he unveiled his plan for revamping entitlement programs, Gingrich reiterated his ideas about child labor laws, saying that kid janitors “would be dramatically less expensive than unionized janitors.” In an interview with my colleague, Amy Gardner, Gingrich said that he is not advocating revamping child labor laws, he simply wants to empower young people with a work ethic they need to succeed.

“I’m not suggesting that they drop out of school and become janitors, I’m talking about working 20 hours a week and being empowered to succeed.”

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called child labor laws “truly stupid” at a Friday appearance at Harvard University, saying that he would propose extraordinarily radical changes that would fundamentally transform the culture of poverty.


Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (Adam Hunger - Reuters)

Speaking at the John F. Kennedy school, Gingrich said that children in the poorest neighborhoods are “trapped in child laws” that prevent them from earning money.

“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,” Gingrich said according to a CNN video. “The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they’d have pride in the schools, they’d begin the process of rising. Get any job that teaches you to show up on Monday. Get any job that teaches you to stay all day, even if you’re having a fight with your girlfriend.”

FYI: According to child labor laws, the minimum age for most non-agricultural work is 14, though there are some jobs that children of any age can perform (babysitting, delivering newspapers and performing minor chores).

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