Former lawmaker envisions pre-teen work force.
UOYED BY high poll ratings, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich last night unveiled what he jokingly called his "sweeping" child-labor economic plan at a $1000-a-plate fundraiser. Actually entitled "Sweep for Cheap," the plan provides the details of Gingrich's recent proposal to use child labor to fill school janitorial and other low-skill jobs.
Gingrich argued that his plan "taps the youthful energy positively overflowing on our playgrounds, where it's being wasted on jungle gyms and merry-go-rounds that many of these ungrateful children have not even paid for, by the way."
Instead, said the Republican candidate, "little Billy could be pushing a broom down the hallways of his future high school, pretending the broom is his invisible friend who's not invisible anymore. Or little Janie could be washing dishes in the high-school kitchen while pretending she's helping out her mom, who just happens to invite 300 people over for lunch every Monday through Friday.
"In other words," Gingrich continued, "a child's imagination knows no bounds. It also knows no labor history, so I say we put that innocence to work rebuilding our economy for a song!" At that, Gingrich's well-heeled audience broke into vigorous applause lasting nearly a minute.
Audience enthusiasm continued as Gingrich laid out his plan for putting poor and low-income children ages five through eleven to work as janitors, dishwashers, garbage collectors, and shoe shiners, with the promise of "two nutritious meals and five dollars a day" plus time-and-a-half on weekends.
Gingrich scoffed at critics' suggestions that by excluding upper-income children in his plan he was engaging in class warfare. Arguing that children of better-off parents were "the job creators of the Hammacher Schlemmer kids catalogue" he asked, "Do you see poor children getting miniature Bentleys for Christmas? Who is going to make kiddie Bentleys if rich kiddies are too tired to drive them around??"
In closing, Gingrich directed his final remarks to poor and low-income parents, some of whom were on hand, refilling water glasses and taking away dinner plates.
"I say to the parents of our future labor market, if your child inconveniences America by dying of cancer or contracting MS, first, I know just how you feel. What a pain the rear end. Second, make another baby, or better yet, a whole litter!" said Gingrich. "Remember, we Republicans believe that every life is precious, especially the ones that don't qualify for minimum wage."
© 12.9.11 Kate Heidel