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The Repeal of the Twentieth Century is Well Underway

December 12, 2011

The Republican party has officially embraced the repeal of the twentieth century as a party platform.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
H/T to Crooks and Liars for the video

(quote below begins at about the 3:50 mark)

“I think every person up here worked at a young age. What I suggested was kids ought to be able to work part-time in schools, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods… 

If you take one half of the New York janitors, who are paid more than the teachers. An entry-level janitor gets paid twice as much as an entry-level teacher. You take half those janitors, you could give lots of poor kids a work experience in the cafeteria, in the school library, in the front office, in a lot of different things. I’ll stand by the idea young people ought to learn how to work. Middle class kids do it routinely, we should give poor kids the same chance to pursue happiness.”

Wild applause from the audience.

Let me remind you that we are just a few weeks away from January 1st, 2012, and yet one of the two major political parties in the United States of America is openly calling for the repeal of child labor laws that have been in place since 1938.

Laws that took over 100 years and immeasurable suffering to finally implement at the national level.

Laws that are in place to protect the human rights of children.

In Newt Gingrich’s America, poor children would once again have the opportunity to “pursue happiness” through exploitation and misery.  Let’s take a little walk down memory lane for a moment and revisit the good ‘ol days when the poor children of America knew how to work.

(All photos and quotes are from The History Place – Child Labor in America. Fantastic website, go check it out.)

“Some boys and girls were so small they had to climb up on to the spinning frame to mend broken threads and to put back the empty bobbins.
Bibb Mill No. 1. Macon, Georgia.”

-Lewis Hine, Investigative Photographer for the National Child Labor Committee

What is it about poor people that Republicans find so offensive? Must be the tattered clothes.

“Some of the young knitters in London Hosiery Mills.
London, Tennessee”

-Lewis Hine, Investigative Photographer for the National Child Labor Committee

Just look at that work ethic. Thank goodness these kids were allowed such valuable life experiences.

“Fish cutters at a canning company in Maine. Ages range from 7 to 12. They live near the factory. The 7-year-old boy in front, Byron Hamilton, has a badly cut finger but helps his brother regularly. Behind him is his brother George, age 11, who cut his finger half off while working. Ralph, on the left, displays his knife and also a badly cut finger. They and many youngsters said they were always cutting themselves. George earns a dollar some days usually 75 cents. Some of the others say they earn a dollar when they work all day. At times they start at 7 a.m. and work all day until midnight.”

-Lewis Hine, Investigative Photographer for the National Child Labor Committee

What do those dirty poor kids need all those fingers for anyway? They’ll just waste their days away playing video games instead of learning how to work.

“View of the Ewen Breaker of the Pennsylvania Coal Co. The dust was so dense at times as to obscure the view. This dust penetrated the utmost recesses of the boys’ lungs. A kind of slave-driver sometimes stands over the boys, prodding or kicking them into obedience.
South Pittston, Pennsylvania.”

-Lewis Hine, Investigative Photographer for the National Child Labor Committee

Well someone has to keep the lazy little good-for-nothings busy. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop you know.

I could go on and on with this.  The suffering of impoverished children is very well documented, and continues unabated in developing countries today.

According to UNICEF, there are an estimated 250 million children aged 5 to 14 in child labour worldwide, excluding child domestic labour.  The United Nations and the International Labor Organization consider child labour exploitative, with the UN stipulating, in article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that:

…States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. Although globally there is an estimated 250 million children working.

In the 1990s every country in the world except for Somalia and the United States became a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC. Somalia eventually signed the convention in 2002; the delay of the signing was believed to been due to Somalia not having a government.

International corporations, with the support of the U.S. Government, have moved their manufacturing to these nation for this very reason. It’s cheaper for them to chew up and spit out powerless children then to exploit adults who might actually fight back.

Notice how Newt always goes back to those over-paid unionized janitors?  The GOP believes that poor children should be made to work for pennies-on-the-dollar what we pay unionized adult labor in this country.  They’re going after poor kids to undermine the last seventy years of established labor laws because their war on the middle class just isn’t destroying it fast enough.

Remember kids, the party of the rich doesn’t like how the New Deal worked out, and back in 1980 they decided they wanted a do-over.

They even have a twelve step plan.

  1. Deregulate the economy… Check
  2. Stagnate wages and funnel earnings to the wealthy… Check
  3. Cut taxes on the wealthy to run up the deficit… Check
  4. Gut the ability to unionize… Check
  5. Start an endless war to run up the deficit… Check
  6. Do away with basic constitutional rights in the name of “National Security”… Check
  7. Crash the economy and bail out the criminals responsible to run up the deficit… Check
  8. Use the enormous deficit as an excuse to destroy the Social Safety-net… Underway
  9. Use “National Security” laws to crack down on protest movements… Underway
  10. End all environmental and labor protections, including child labor laws… Pending
  11. Turn the U.S. into a tin-pot, third-world nation of cheap labor, segregated wealth, and rigged elections… Pending
  12. Corporate Profits… Always

And it’s well underway.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2011 1:18 pm

    POWerful; awesome post. As usual, you skewer the Party Of No without mercy. This stuff should actually be front-page news, but instead it’s ho-hum, just politics.

    A commenter on my blog who believes the Russian elections were marred by massive fraud in favour of United Russia and that somebody else should be leading Russia commented, “There are millions of people in Russia. If elections here were truly open, free, and fair then I’m certain excellent candidates that the Western media has never heard of would rise to the occasion.”

    Another replied, “So, the rethuglican clown show now on display demonstrates that the US elections are not truly open, free, and fair, but they’re the best a country of 300 million can do?”


    • December 21, 2011 11:09 am

      Thanks again for the kind words.

      I think the answer to the “open, free, and fair” elections question is self evident. They’re not open, free, or fair. The only people able to run for office are those who are already independently wealthy, or those who are craven enough to sell their souls to the highest bidder. There are rare exceptions of course, but you don’t see many regular working stiffs running for public office even at the local level any more. Something about having stagnant wages and underwater mortgages that cuts in to the old “extra cash” reserves. And that’s only for those lucky enough to still have a job and a home.

      Corruption here certainly doesn’t excuse corruption there, but our house needs some major clean-up before we start lecturing others on how they should act. I’m rooting for the Russian people just as I’m rooting for the American people. Hopefully we’ll all pull through this madness and come out better in the end.

      • December 22, 2011 6:47 pm

        I hope so, too. But what always strikes me about the American electorate is how as soon as somebody shoots their mouth off in public in a way the GOP base likes (Katy Abram in that staged town-hall faceoff with Arlen Specter, Joe the Plumber, etc…), a ripple of excitement is generated and their name begins to be passed around as a good candidate for public office. They haven’t demonstrated any skills for anything, but suddenly they’d be a great prospect for a job telling other people what to do. The notion that reg’lar folks make the best leaders persists in a truly endearing fashion…yet it’s always the same few rich folks that really run the show. Doesn’t anyone notice this?

  2. Sedate Me permalink
    January 12, 2012 2:24 pm

    Very good article, reminicent of the Triangle Waistshirt Factory one that first drew me here to occasionally lurk. The use of historical pictures & descriptions was top flight. Most spoiled idiots these days have no idea whatsoever this shit was so commonplace.

    Given the insane debt levels of governments and citizens, the global Free Trade environment that puts every non-Job Creator in the world into a perpetual limbo for jobs, the concentration of power & wealth in the hands of a few who are loyal only to themselves, diminishing natural resources & exploding populations seeking to get their piece of them, (I could blather on & on) the whole of humanity is in a downward spiral.

    In my opinion, the 20th Century was probably the economic pinnacle of Western society, from which it is too late to do anything but fall backwards. The only question is “How far back will we land?” The ABSOLUTE BEST best case is that we in the West economically wind up living like it was the 50’s…which may have actually been the TRUE pinnacle, mind you. Living stardards above that were/are built on unsustainable debt/pretend money & carbon resources, global populations much smaller than what they are now, and the bulk of the global population being denied access to the party. The math has changed to the point of being unrecognizable.

    One thousand times more likely is that we REALLY WILL wind up in a pre-20th Century capitalist economy within 20 years. Hell, if we don’t act soon, we may very well wind up back in a modern Feudal System of Lords & Serfs. No kidding. It’s not as far a leap as you might think. Hell, slavery is (in raw numbers) at an all-time high! (websearch “modern slavery” and prepare to be depressed)

    • January 12, 2012 2:52 pm

      Thanks for the kind words.

      You’re right, most people in this country have no idea what kind of sacrifices have been made to make their lives easier. It may be the most tragic failure of our society.

      Something about being doomed to repeat history once it’s forgotten…

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