Newt Gingrich Doesn’t Like Poor Children

Kids in poverty don't understand work? The GOP primary front-runner needs to get a clue.

Getty Images
Getty Images

A word from Newt Gingrich, front-runner in the GOP 2012 primaries:

Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods, have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works, so they have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day; they have no habit of “I do this and you give me cash,” unless it is illegal.

Gingrich was responding to criticism he’s taken for his stance on child-labor laws. Recently at a GOP hangout (to call it a “debate” would be to sully the term), Gingrich explained to America (or simply we masochists who watch GOP hangouts) that he would do away with child-labor laws.

First he’d get rid of that whole minimum-age-to-work crap. Then he’d fire all those icky union janitors at schools — and put in place a “master” janitor and then have kids work for the janitor keeping their school clean. Forget all of that “being a kid” nonsense. That 9-year-old needs to get a broom, a mop and clean some floors! So the above quote was supposed to really explain the thoughts behind this “amazing” idea.

I have a question for Gingrich: How many poor children does he know?

Gingrich’s sweeping commentary should be problematic for anyone with common sense. Since when are poor children so confused by the idea of working? The idea of trying to make money? The idea of “hustling”? Gingrich believes that poor children — not the children of the wealthy, who have every need attended, whose parents can go to work when and if they please — need to be shown how to work. The only method that poor children understand about getting money is through illegal means. Because poor kids are apparently raised by no one other than degenerates and thieves.

As a former poor kid (I’ve moved on up to a “Please don’t let anything go wrong so that I might survive to next month” adult), I am amazed that someone could form their lips to say these words. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I stayed primarily in the Brevoort housing projects in Brooklyn, N.Y. This was not because my mother was on government assistance and needed subsidized living. My mother was working two jobs and couldn’t possibly watch after her small son while working 90 hours a week, so she asked my 70-something great-aunt to watch me while she tried to provide a living for us. The first memory I have of money is the fact that my mom worked so hard to get it.