Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has spent part of his week in the spotlight defending remarks that he thinks child labor laws are “truly stupid.” Gingrich has suggested students could become assistant janitors and clean bathrooms to instill a “habit of work” among poorer children.
However, it appears even Gingrich has his limits. He conceded this morning on Curtis Silva’s WNYM radio show that while poor kids would benefit from janitorial work or perhaps an apprenticeship for Donald Trump, he does not think we should revert to true pre-child labor law conditions. Gingrich clarified:
Kids shouldn’t work in coal mines; kids shouldn’t work in heavy industry.
Politico writes, “This is the kind of statement that probably falls into the ‘if you have to say it …’ category.” Indeed, his need to explicitly exclude some of the most dangerous industries of work from this new vision for child labor is not a good sign.
Gingrich’s attempt to keep kids “safe” by excluding them from heavy industry ignores the fact that 24,000 Americans die prematurely from coal industry pollution, although 90 percent of these deaths could have been prevented with available pollution control technology.