I caught a snippet of a debate on television last night while getting ready for bed (because CNN is the default channel in my house – kill me) about changing the child labor laws. Of course, I had to search the internet to find out what they were yapping about. Missouri State Senator Jane Cunningham has proposed a bill that would “modify” child labor laws. The proposal would eliminate the prohibition of employment of children under age fourteen and repeals the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen has to obtain a work permit in order to be employed. It would remove restrictions on when and how many hours a child may work. It also would remove the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ.
I know the big thing in Washington right now is to bang your drum and chant “shrink the government” but there is a big difference between getting rid of regulations and expenditures that are useless or outdated and getting rid of regulations that keep your fellow Americans from doing something amoral and stupid. Because, let’s face it, humans are greedy, morally bankrupt, horrible, stupid people and the only thing keeping them from doing something disgusting is the fear of being punished. Child labor laws were created to keep young children (single digit ages) out of dangerous factory/manufacturing jobs but there is a big difference between wanting to work at the 7-Eleven and working in a textile factory where your task is to run under the huge cloth looms to untangle a snag in the threads and where failing to run back out quickly enough would result in your death. I agree that laws should reflect our time but doing away with the law completely is just as detrimental.
Jane Cunningham says that “parents should be in charge, deciding on the work ethic of their children,” which is so ignorant that it makes me cringe. Removing the regulations on how long and when a child can work is just asking for trouble. Parents, and I use that term loosely in some cases, are so wrapped up in their own lives that they don’t notice what their child is doing while other parents simply will not care. A similar bill in Maine proposed by David Burns takes the idiocy a step further, by establishing a “training wage” for new workers 20 years old or younger. It would reduce the minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $5.62 an hour for the first 90 days of employment. What this will result in, is young workers being fired after the 90 day period is over and a new teen worker being brought in at the reduced wage continually. You are working under the premise that Americans are ethical, decent people that will treat their fellow humans with respect, even a teen, but reality is that they are not. You are deluding yourself if you think otherwise.
Missouri Lawmaker Seeks to “Modify” Child Labor Laws – Huffington Post
Teen “training wage” bill draws opposition – Maine Bangor Daily News