In My Opinion
Gingrich's Bright Idea: Poor 9-Year-Olds Should Work. Is This Guy For Real?
Newt Gingrich is an idiot. I'm not saying that because I disagree with his politics or ideas. I'm saying that mostly because he has no verbal discipline. Anyone who has the privilege of a national platform and disrespects it with reckless speech is in my opinion, dumb.
Which brings me to Gingrich's recent comments that have landed him in a lot of hot water and subsequent back-pedaling and mucho explaining. At the time, Gingrich was complaining about the "truly stupid" child labor laws and suggesting that children start earning an income as early as age 9. He wasn't kidding.
He went further by saying, "Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits for working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday." Gingrich also added that poor children are probably criminals. "They have no habit of, 'I do this and you give me cash'...unless it's illegal," he said.
I now refer back to my opening sentence.
I don't know what America this guy is living in but there are more than 10 million low-income working families in this country--who technically earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Those working poor represent 45 million Americans and 22 million children. Wake up, people work in this country and are still technically poor.
Why don't you address that problem, Mr. Gingrich, and come up with a plan that gives hard working Americans real wages and real jobs, rather than suggest 9-year olds start working?
This man does not know anything about real Americans and sounds like the kind of guy who has had such a privileged life that he's been completely shielded from poor people and in fact knows absolutely nothing about them. In fact, I retract my opening statement, Gingrich is more than an idiot. He's morally repugnant.
What's worse he's a perpetuator of stereotypes--which is the most dangerous idiot of all.
Of course when people hear "poor", they assume black and brown, though we all know there are more poor white Americans in this country. And to foster stereotypes about a lack of a work ethic is such a lazy response. Blame the poor for being poor. Ignore the systemic racism in the country, ignore the wage gap, the wealth gap, the technology gap and health disparities that keep poor people poor or at least make it extra hard to get ahead.
Thankfully, I didn't grow up poor. I grew up middle-class, in a home owned by my parents in a suburb-like environment, but I saw poor in my family and "lazy" never came to mind. And when I was growing up, I was allowed to be a child. School was my job. Getting a good education was my job. And my parents were the supervisors of that job. As my father often said, "children didn't ask to be here", so why would Gingrich suggest that it is the children's responsibility at nine-years old to get themselves out of poverty? Because it allows the government to do nothing, but pass blame and shift the responsibility to our young ones. I'm back to morally repugnant. This is even more idiotic because we know that the best way out of poverty is with a good education.
Gingrich tried to clean it up later by suggesting he made money as a young boy by cutting grass and the like...um, because you lived in a neighborhood with grass to cut and with people who had disposable income to pay you to do it. (By the way, in his original, un-edited, reckless comments he suggested that school districts fire "unionized janitors" and instead pay kids to maintain their own schools.) Is this guy for real?
What's worse, I don't know what exalted work ethic Gingrich is seeing in the children of the rich, but when I was a professor at NYU, I saw the most entitled, lazy kids, without a shred of a real work ethic in many of my white, privileged students. My (one or two) minority students came in with a strong work hustle and a keen awareness that they were going to have to work hard to make it in the world. The rich kids were so used to everything being handed to them and things coming easy, they simply complained to their daddies when asked to work hard.
Gingrich is so disconnected from reality, it's ridiculous. Come up with some real solutions and leave all of our children alone.
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