Everyone knows I’m not a political animal. A good part of my adult life was covering politics in Washington and am fully aware what a silly circus it is. I often watch and hear political ideas and actions (from Demos and Repubs) that sound horrid, and I ignore them. It is only when I see a trend (that is obviously history repeating itself) that I speak up (especially regarding children, animals, the elderly, or anyone who is vulnerable and perhaps not aware of his her rights).
A part of American History we try to forget is our history of child labor. It was not even taught at my high school, and only glossed over in college textbooks.
We know now that people who we look up to as icons can be nothing more than pedophiles. Opening up a boss/employee situation with children as subservient is not asking “if”, it is asking “when and how often”. It’s a nightmare just to imagine how it would be managed; because it couldn’t.
And recently I saw several ol’ boy politicians with the “great creative idea” of bringing it back to America. It was bad enough before we knew of the pandemic of pedophilia (which most likely existed when child labor was prevalent in America). Now we know it is more common than we thought, and Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump think it is a “great idea” as it would teach poor children to work.
About a year ago, my wife Lee Hiller-London found an interesting historical account (complete with photos) of America (before the strict laws forbidding child labor existed). It was heartbreaking. I can’t remember if this is the same page, but it is similar.
How could I not think of those photos and stories etched deeply into my psyche with children laboring until they could barely move. They looked like prisoners (and of course they probably were more so than we even knew, very much like the children who came to Sandusky’s Second Chance “for a better life”.
Lee and I talked about it and agreed that the work would be as indignant as one could imagine. Add to that the ridicule, abuse, and bullying by school peers and you’ve created an at-risk child where suicide would seem the only way out; and of course many would act upon it. A fool could figure that out. Again, how sick and out of touch is this man, Gingrich. And of course I expected “The Donald” to echo “I thought it was a great idea”. I bet he did. I feel sure Jerry Sandusky would give it a thumbs up as well.
Lee and I also remember growing up in middle class to upper middle class homes and though we were not made to work, we did. We wanted our own independence, but the jobs often offered a semblance of dignity. Many of our peers either did not work, some had summer jobs; and others did not until they were eighteen or even twenty one. Most of them, like us, were middle to upper middle class. If my memory serves me well, it was the very poor kids who worked the hardest (at McDonald’s, etc) feeding us. It was WE who had rarely, if ever, cleaned a bathroom, not the poor kids. Often their moms were maids. They knew full well the value of hard work (and how to clean a john).
Don’t get me wrong, rich kids should have the same protection and never be made to work in jobs as a sense of punishment. Shame on Newt Gingrich for offering such a “Fix For America”. You may have some creative ideas, but trust me this is not one of them. In fact, ask Herbert Hoover. It helped lead to the Great Depression; and it was only because the Depression that such laws were passed forbidding this sinful behavior. Thank you.