The idea behind economic development is that growing the economy makes life better for each successive generation. The boy who worked in unregulated coal mines as a child becomes the father of unionized coal workers with federal safety protections, for instance. The country grows, and so does the standard of living.
This year we’re seeing that Republicans have a different view of the bad old days. Presidential candidate – and apparent new frontrunner – Newt Gingrich yesterday recommended that schools hire kids as young as nine to do the job of cleaning their schools so that kids could “begin the process of rising.” In that one apparent governing principle, the belief that American should go backward on child labor, you can see why the nation is having so much trouble getting to bipartisanship on anything. Rachel:
Democrats haven’t really moved in any direction except to the right in their economic positions in the last 20 years. Meanwhile, in Republican politics this year, it became normal to talk about eliminating child labor laws. This is why we can’t have nice things. This is why we cannot come together, kumbayah. You want Democrats to go halfway toward eliminating child labor laws in the interest of bipartisan harmony? Seriously?
Above, a photo from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s history of the Little Miners, some as young as eight, all made to work in dangerous conditions by “a kind of slave driver” who disciplined them with prods and kicks. (H/t writer Brendan Koerner.)