Acton Institute Powerblog

Work is a gift our kids can handle

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imrs (2)UPDATE: Given the recent attention drawn to this post, permit me to clarify that I do NOT endorse replacing education with paid labor, nor do I support sending our children back into the coal mines or other high-risk jobs, nor do I support getting rid of mandatory education at elementary and middle-school ages. Due to the confusion it brought, I have removed “bring back child labor” from the title, as many falsely took it to mean a call to “bring back” earlier laws, conditions, or jobs, which is not my argument. My recommendation here is simply that we challenge our cultural assumptions about labor at all levels, from parenting to education to policymaking, and ensure we take a more holistic approach to education that recognizes the dignity of each human person.

The abundant prosperity of the modern age has brought many blessings when it comes to child-rearing and child development, offering kids new opportunities for education, play, and personal development. Yet even as we celebrate our civilizational departure from excessive child labor, we ought to be wary of falling into a different sort of lopsided lifestyle.

Alas, as a day-to-day reality, work has largely vanished from modern childhood, with parents constantly stressing over the values of study and practice and “social interaction” even as they insulate their children from any activity that might involve risk, pain, or boredom. As a result, many of our kids are coming far too late to the arena of creative service and all it brings: dignity, meaning, freedomvirtuecreativitycharacter, and neighbor love.

Operating out of a justified fear of the harsh excesses of “harder times,” we have allowed our cultural attitudes to swing too far in the opposite direction, distorting work as a “necessary obligation of adulthood,” a gift too dangerous for kids. Working from these same distorted attitudes, the Washington Post recently published what it described as a “haunting” photo montage of child laborers from America’s rougher past.

The photos surely point to times of extreme lack, of stress and pain. But as Jeffrey Tucker rightly detects, they also represent the faces of those who are actively building enterprises and cities, using their gifts to serve their communities, and setting the foundation of a flourishing nation, in turn. Turns out there is dignity and meaning in that, too:

I also think about their inner lives. They are working in the adult world, surrounded by cool bustling things and new technology. They are on the streets, in the factories, in the mines, with adults and with peers, learning and doing. They are being valued for what they do, which is to say being valued as people. They are earning money.

Whatever else you want to say about this, it’s an exciting life. You can talk about the dangers of coal mining or selling newspapers on the street. But let’s not pretend that danger is something that every young teen wants to avoid. If you doubt it, head over the stadium for the middle school football game in your local community, or have a look at the wrestling or gymnastic team’s antics at the gym.

And I compare it to any scene you can observe today at the local public school, with 30 kids sitting in desks bored out of their minds, creativity and imagination beaten out of their brains, forbidden from earning money and providing value to others, learning no skills, and knowing full well that they are supposed to do this until they are 22 years old if they have the slightest chance of being a success in life: desk after desk, class after class, lecture after lecture, test after test, a confined world without end.

In our modern context, loosening up the existing “system” need not (and should not) put our children at risk of 12-hour work days in extreme and dangerous conditions. As Tucker concludes, the current economic avenues for unskilled labor are actually prime territory for introducing our children to risk and service, never mind the side effects of practical education and character cultivation:

If kids were allowed to work and compulsory school attendance was abolished, the jobs of choice would be at Chick-Fil-A and WalMart. And they would be fantastic jobs too, instilling in young people a work ethic, which is the inner drive to succeed, and an awareness of attitudes that make enterprise work for all. It would give them skills and discipline that build character, and help them become part of a professional network.

These attitudes are rather missing from today’s young people just entering the workforce. They are forcibly kept out and then we are shocked to discover that the average college graduate today has a hard time getting into his or her groove at the age of 23. It’s because their human right to work and earn has been violated for a good part of their lives, to the point that they have lost interest in and knowledge of what work is like at all.

As for the solution to all this, Tucker’s imperative is to simply “let the kids work.” This begins, of course, with a change in our attitudes, and such a shift will require diligent and drastic changes across our cultural spheres and institutions, from the ecosystem of each individual family to the powerful bureaucracies that seek control our kids through top-down plans and programs.

For example, as families, what if we were to rethink our approach to “allowances,” or paid labor in the household in general? What if we were to be more intentional about creating opportunities for work for our kids, or simply to more closely disciple our children toward a full understanding of the role of their work in honoring God and serving neighbor? In our schools and educational systems, what if we stopped prioritizing “intellectual” work to the detriment of practical knowledge and physical labor, paving new paths to a more holistic approach to character formation? In our policy and governing institutions, what if we put power back in the hands of parents and kids, dismantling the range of excessive legal restrictions, minimum wage fixings, and regulations that lead our children to work less and work later? (This could be something as simple as letting a 14-year-old work a few hours a week at a fast-food restaurant or grocery store.)

There’s plenty we can do, but the ultimate question is this: When it comes to the cultivation of character and the human imagination, what do we lose in a world wherein work, service, and sacrifice have been largely replaced by superficial pleasures and one-dimensional modes of formation?

Let us not just teach our children to play hard and study well, shuffling them through a long line of hobbies and electives and educational activities. A long day’s work and a load of sweat have plenty to teach as well.

Work: The Meaning of Your Life

Work: The Meaning of Your Life

Where do we find the core of life's meaning?  Right on the job!  At whatever work we do -- with head or hand, from kitchen to executive suite, from your house to the White House. New Foreword by Stephen J. Grabill and Afterword by Greg Forster

Joseph Sunde is an associate editor and writer for the Acton Institute. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, The City, The Christian Post, The Stream, Charisma News, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.

Comments

  • Alex

    What the hell is wrong with you tell all the child laborers in third world countries “they’re building enterprises and cities” and that “they’re serving their community”. Child labor is an awful thing that our country did and I thought everyone had moved on. Did you do child labor? Were you forced to do eight hours of grueling work in harmful comdition that even adults wouldn’t do? No? Then don’t say things like this. Let them have their childhood, not work for Walmart.

    • Joseph Sunde

      Nowhere here do I advocate **forcing** small children to work for businesses or companies. But yes, I think parents should force their kids to do chores around the house more than the current trends in childrearing indicate.

      Yes, I did work 10 hours or so a week when I was 15 years old (gasp), which is work that’s increasingly hard to come by for 15 years olds these days due to increased regulations and limitations. I would have loved it if I had the freedom to do so at 12 or 13 in the summers, even if it were for little pay. Lucky for me, I had uncles and friends’ families who were willing to pay me to do manual labor (dig post holes, pull weeds, be a grunt on construction projects) at age 10.

      If you read my post, I don’t argue for some blind march to child labor. I offer a challenge to a society that has become increasingly lopsided. Many of the changes I propose have to do with families, institutions, and education, and how work is taught about and offered up at young ages. As for the political question, I don’t advocate a return to the 1800s, and caution against an over-romanticization of such. Loosening up regulations and wage requirements, or lowering the working age by a year or two would be just fine by me, doubtful as I am that we’ll see it any time soon.

      • Carol Dentinger Rozier

        Our children have enough challenges, thank you. They have their school day, homework, sports, community service and household chores. Teenagers are already having too many stress related problems. The last thing they need is to be exploited by greedy capitalists in order to increase profit margins. BTW, NOBODY should be mining. It’s dangerous, unhealthy, and unnecessary.

        • Trixieroselee

          Some week-end work, and summer jobs give teens a sense of pride and independence. Team sports help them learn how to accomplish common goals with others. Both are important. Typical teen jobs have dried up because of
          (Start yelling) illegal immigrants, who work cheaper, for cash, for longer hours. Another reason to deport them….exploitation, and taking jobs from American Citizens. We should take care of our own first. A government which puts non-citizens ahead of its citizens will soon be history. Buh-bye ‘Bomma!

      • #WearOrange

        “I don’t argue for some blind march to child labor.”

        Uh huh. Except you seem to with this atrocious “article”. Glorifying working at Walmart? What discipline and work ethic are they learning there that they can’t by doing chores at home, unpaid? This is entirely about providing cheap child labor to obscenely rich corporations.

        You lost all credibility as a decent human being with the following paragraph below!

        “Whatever else you want to say about this, it’s an exciting life. You can talk about the dangers of coal mining or selling newspapers on the street. But let’s not pretend that danger is something that every young teen wants to avoid. If you doubt it, head over the stadium for the middle school football game in your local community, or have a look at the wrestling or gymnastic team’s antics at the gym.”

        Are you seriously equating sports played in a gym with working in the hazardous conditions of coal mine? Playing sports is a clean well ventilated gym, entirely supervised, with near immediate access to medical care is not the same as sending kids down several feet beneath the earth’s surface to mine coal. You need to issue an apology for this horrendous “opinion” piece. Go away and find your soul.

      • dubiousradicals

        What? Your example of yourself offers nothing new. I am a millennial so I feel like I have something to add. I too began to work-but at the age of 14. I worked at Michael’s, and then the library and then an institute to help people who were blind.

        I too did chores around the house (beginning at the age of 9) like washing dishes, my parents’ car (although I was horrible at it so that ended pretty quickly), laundry, pulling weed out, general house cleaning, dog walking etc. No, I did not get an allowance. It was simply called being responsible.

        You say “more than the current trends”, what is your assumption based on?

        Also you should know, children aged 15 and up do in fact work at WalMart etc (there are working papers for minors). Not to mention children are allowed to work on farms, restaurants etc. https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/workprot/lschlhrs.shtm (take a quick glance at this-this is for my home state NY)
        They are allowed to participate in internships and employers in certain professions are allowed to pay them less than minimum wage. But the idea that WalMart is a “transition job” or merely for high schoolers shows a lack of understanding of the job market-and people who hold jobs.

        I guarantee you, if you go into WalMart today, you will see the majority of employees are well over 18. WalMart for many isn’t some extra pocket money “let’s learn a few work ethics” fling. Neither is McDonald’s, a gas station or whatever other type of “service” job. It’s a serious job. People take up those jobs to pay the rent-to stay alive.

        You fail to see how what you’re suggesting can be taken advantage of. You fail to see how what you are proposing could severely hurt the lower class and only widen the gap between lower and upper.

        There are middle school students who work for their parents.Or who do odd jobs. They sleep through school and they do poorly academically. Why? Because they have a financial obligation to their family. But let’s exploit them even more and give them less than minimum wage because hey-they’re under 12. We’ll teach them that life’s not fair. And let’s allow them to not go to school at all! Surely this’ll put them ahead of those brats who study all the time and don’t have a job!

        There’s a reason we have strict child labor laws.

        I know kids my age who were not allowed to work during the college school year (the deal was the parents would pay the tuition if the kids got some high GPA). Some parents understand the value of an education and doing well academically. They realize that, in the long term, good grades and good internships will propel students into a better life, career etc and that this reward is more important than a minimum wage job.

        But not every family has that privilege.

        You fail to see that even the choice to have or not to have a job is a privilege.

        Also (sort of a respond to a later comment you made), if you consider being a soccer referee a job then you also have to consider fund raisers, theater, orchestra, sports in general (basically any extra curricular a child participates in) jobs as well. Not to mention, these days there are kids who design websites for money. There are kids who make apps.

        Children do work. What do you want to bring back? How do you define work?

        • Zaphod

          “You fail to see”

          No, I don’t think he does fail to see. He sees, he just doesn’t care.

          • Sheila Rivera

            I was getting ready to say the same thing, as I read this post, what I see is put the poor kids to work, they don’t need education. They are just a drain on society let’s make them productive.

        • Elisha Dasenbrock

          I hope someone frames your comment and hangs it above her computer. Everything I wanted to say, but was too appalled to get out.

      • SimoneNonvelodico

        The question is that the possibility was removed because no one was forcing the children but their own families. Once the possibility opens up you have a situation where it’s just more convenient for a dirt-poor family to pop up one child after another and put them to work as soon as possible. Downside: they don’t get to go to school, they don’t get an education, they will become just more poor adults without prospects of social mobility. It’s a deadlocked system, and child labour was forbidden in order to break it. “Don’t coddle your kids” is one thing, and I can agree with that. But that is a matter of education. There’s plenty of work to be done at home for kids to learn to give a hand without being put in dangerous or inescapable situations. The moment you start giving actual economic worth to child labour you enter a dangerous feedback loop.

      • CriminyRiver

        I don’t think you have any idea what “the current trend in childrearing” is.

      • Zaphod

        Perhaps if that is not what you want, you should delete this article, and rewrite it to say what you want it to. This article does not say what you suggest you are trying to say.

      • Zaphod

        “more than the current trends in childrearing indicate” – Which trends are those then? You don’t reference any.

      • Elisha Dasenbrock

        Most people had jobs at 16 and unofficial jobs long before that. You’re not special and it isn’t shocking.

        Good for you that you were willing to be taken advantage of as a child because you didn’t know better and you had family to give you jobs and look out for you. But everyone is lucky enough to be able to work for family, though.

        Just because kids don’t understand their worth doesnt mean adults should be allowed to take advantage of them.

      • Blake

        You can’t be serious… In your fantasy, there’s no chance that business would take advantage of these kids correct? They’d never dream of it I’m sure. If you, or anyone else, wants their 12 year old to work, then give them chores. They have no business being in official employment where they’d be at the mercy of a greedy business owner.

        Stop pretending that manual labor is more beneficial than knowledge. It isn’t. The fact that you believe so, points to your 1600s Puritan views and it’s religious motive.

      • dave

        Actually I did read your post and no matter how you sugar coat it, you are arguing for a loosening of the child labor protections. Either you are a really ignorant person who is oblivious to history and how a loosening of these regulations would impact people (especially the poor although I doubt you care about them) or you are more likely an evil shill who advances policies such as these in the hopes of attracting attention and funding for your writing. Most of the families I know tie allowances to some chores around the house or performance in academics. Perhaps you need to examine your peer group if this is not true and ask what is happening. I honestly can’t believe you looked at those pictures and rationalized it by saying they were actively building enterprise. You jerk, they were being exploited by people who overworked them in order to make money. There was no dignity and meaning only a significant reduction in life span. My guess is you are targeting this article to the beneficiaries of this labor in the hopes that they will pay you to peddle your theories. My daughter asked me what evil looked like the other day, now I can show her your picture as an answer.

      • An_alternative_opinion

        My parents used me to take care of barnfuls of animals… cattle, pigs, horses, cats, dogs, chicken, geese, ducks. I also got to pick strawberries, tomatoes, corn, and whatever else we sold. I did all the prep work for preserving, and did laundry for the whole house including cloth diapers. I babysat the baby. That was no kind of childhood.

        It would have been nice if I’d had time to do my homework. Since my test scores were through the roof (1568 SAT on the 1600 point test), the only reason I didn’t get a full ride scholarship was my grades were low.

        Not to mention, I did not know how to study since I never had time to do it when I was young

        Torture your own kids and ruin their future if you want but don’t promote it to others

      • sajoltman

        My four-year-old already does some simple chores. That has literally nothing to do with what you’re advocating, which is having kids work at Wal-Mart and Chick-Fil-A, the only benefit of which is to the shareholders of those corporations who would profit from cheap labor.

      • BeaM

        Teenagers wouldn’t have a hard time finding work in many areas of the country if family farms could survive in this day of agribusiness and mono-culture, and if farmers could afford to pay a fair wage for helpers.
        I’m fed up with safety regulations being blamed for jobs not being available when the reason is tax-dodging companies moving overseas to avoid paying what the work is worth.
        I’m fed up with environmental regulations being blamed for jobs being lost when the environmental regulations are needed to keep corporations from spoiling the air, soil and water for future generations. We KNOW they will do this if those regs are lifted because the EPA and Superfund and all the rest were created BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THEY DID back then.
        The same goes for all the rest – USDA, FDA, Department of Labor, OSHA, IRS, Education — get rid of those and we’ll have sick cows in butcher’s cases, even more food recalls, even more deaths from tainted food and drugs, more work accidents (and no unions to fight for workers because .. oops, GOP killed them off), more on-site deaths and no option to sue the employers because … oops, GOP forced everything into mediation, no more class action lawsuits – or any lawsuits.
        The GOP is de-funding and dismantling the things that work in this country to the point they can’t work any more, then turning around and saying – “Oh, look, it doesn’t work anyway! let’s get rid of it!”
        And “letting the states handle it” is CODE for “we don’t want to be bothered paying for it federally, and if some states don’t have as much money as other states, and don’t have as many services/ safe roads/ good schools/ healthy people/ affordable housing/ as others, well, not our problem…
        We’re ALL fed up and we see right through you and your ilk

        • VF Sue

          BRILLIANT! may I share your words?

          • BeaM

            Of course! Thanks for the kudos

        • The number of regulations that actually protect our health and safety is probably less than 1%. Since 1970 the Federal Register of just new regs has grown by over 3,000,000 pages. Last year it grew by over 90,000 pages. Most of those regulations are initiated by large corporations who claim they are for “health and safety” but in reality do nothing more than limit competition from smaller companies. Such massive regulations are the main reason that most industries are highly concentrated oligopolies, job creation had died, and profits are at record highs.

      • hvermont

        exactly what “increased regulations” prevent kids today from doing exactly what you did as a child?

        My kids always worked, they always did chores, and they did it because for us and most families today in the USA life is a struggle and we all needed to pitch in. It is a sign of your privileged existence that you somehow think that making (other peoples) kids do MORE work for LESS money is necessary. Maybe it is for your kids, if so I suggest you give them more to do and reward them less for it.

      • RobertEricJackson

        The reason that kids don’t work in Walmart is because desperate adults do those jobs. Those adults can’t find better employment. It has nothing to do with regulations but with the lack of higher paying jobs in the US for low skilled workers. Yes you were glorifying forced child labor when you praised working in a coal mine as exciting.

      • WarrenRoss

        Great line, “work that’s increasingly hard to come by for 15 years olds these days due to increased regulations and limitations.” And why is that? It is not only hard for 15 year olds but even those much older. There is a shortage of jobs yet there is no shortage of work. The problem is that people like you see the creation of jobs through the narrow prism of the market. You have done well to distort public thinking on this over many years. Government can and has created jobs. The self-serving spivs that will form Trump’s team will be publicly funded. In a similar way, jobs with a public purpose might be created as they were through the post-war reconstruction. You would rather leave that to the myopic market. People like you bleat about the dignity of work all the while seeking to undermine opportunity and advancement for those on mean incomes and support. You really need to keep this views a little more secret. Just implement behind the scenes as you have been doing. They are socially unacceptable to decent people.

      • Bolt

        Dear Joe,

        Neither of us has advocated anything like what Robo and Alex have concluded. Maybe Robo should take her nose out of the books teaching “how fast the world is changing” and step back and let children be children. At no time no place have I advocated forced child labor. In fact, the forced child labor was the do-gooder Notherner’s slavery, but they do not see that as a problem of similar proportions.

        No, I do not agree with Dr. Spock. Yes, I do advocate personal responsibility, which is developed and taught by having small chores becoming bigger chores as one gets older. Today, there are virtually no unsupervised children’s activities. None. Why is that? Because the world has rapidly changed? I think the world has changed because psychologists and sociologists have declared rules of behavior that cannot be condoned–children cannot be allowed to develop thinking and doing skills without first being told how to think and do. That is too bad.

  • We oppose child labor because we have let socialists write our history. Child labor didn’t end in the West until the productivity of adults increased enough that the father working alone could support the entire family. Until then, children had to work in order to have food to eat. The same situation exists in the poor world today.

    Socialists made child labor illegal because they wanted to free up jobs for adults, not because they cared for children. Socialism destroys the job creating power of entrepreneurs so that socialists have to invent ways to spread the few remaining jobs around.

    Today, we torture children with six hours per day of mostly useless education. When they graduate, they know a lot of useless trivia and math that no job needs, but they have no desire or practice at working.

    And read Hayek’s “Capitalism and the Historians.” Most historians flat out lied about working conditions for children and women in the 19th century. They were given the easiest jobs on purpose and with a few exceptions were treated well because their parent loved them and would not let them be treated badly.

    Why do we claim we want children to do well in school, even college? To get a good job, right? Well that’s what child labor did in the 19th century. It taught children the skills and discipline they needed to get a good job when they became adults. And they learned much more practical things than children learn today in public school.

    Haiti would be a much better place if it had some child labor, but it can’t create enough jobs for even a small fraction of its adults.

    • lambchowder

      Haiti needs more capital – human, and machine, not labor. Our textbooks are written in Texas. Education is not “mostly useless”, practicing the skills you learn in school provides the fundamental arithmetic, language, social, cooperative, artistic skills and historical knowledge to help them develop their minds and learn who they are. Intellectual capacity is mostly developed from learning and practice rather than genetic inheritance. Digging holes and making widgets would stunt their growth physically, emotionally and give them nothing of genuine use in return. The same principle that applies to child actors applied to child laborers, to say nothing about the physical harm they underwent.

      The degree to which an adult considers these jobs “easy” is irrelevant. They were risky. Thousands died in Leeds, Manchester, London and Liverpool often violently engaged in activity they were ill-suited for compared to adults. They were doubly and triply risky for young people with poor coordination, a developing sense of momentum, direction and poor physical constitution from deprivation.
      A report commissioned by the House of Commons in 1832 said that: “there are factories, no means few in number, nor confined to the smaller mills, in which serious accidents are continually occurring, and in which, notwithstanding, dangerous parts of the machinery are allowed to remain unfenced.” The report added that he workers were often “abandoned from the moment that an accident occurs; their wages are stopped, no medical attendance is provided, and whatever the extent of the injury, no compensation is afforded.”

      People from all across the political spectrum oppose child labor because it robs them of the most enjoyable time in their life. Childhood is the well-spring of imagination and wonder. Drudgery doesn’t make adults chipper and joyful, it embitters them. There is no dignity in becoming a commodity for someone else to profit by as a child or any other time.

      “Why do we claim we want children to do well in school, even college? To get a good job, right? Well that’s what child labor did in the 19th century. It taught children the skills and discipline they needed to get a good job when they became adults. And they learned much more practical things than children learn today in public school.”

      Stooping and crawling around the floor for bits of raw cotton is less practical than learning geography, civics and multiplication tables.They’re not even skills. It’s a poor replacement for gym time. No, jobs are not the only reason we want people to get educated. Conservatives put a ludicrous degree of emphasis on material advancement when we’ve already got more labor and material than we can use. The problem isn’t the production, it’s the inability to consume. These jobs weren’t good in any respect. They were dangerous and paid insulting slave wages. The same would happen today. No one was ever lifted out of poverty by child labor.

      I would much rather children be doing nothing than be wasting the best time of their lives.
      I would even rather they be engaged in causing TROUBLE and STEALING than that they become more surplus labor driving everyone’s standard of living down even further. You need to rearrange your priorities. This reactionary moralism is simply preposterous.

      • As I responded to dvermette above, you’re comparing the reality of the period with today or with the lifestyles of the rich and famous at the time. You have to compare the working conditions with the alternatives and I can tell you don’t have a clue as to what the alternatives were.

        If you assume that the parents loved their children and wanted the best for them, then you would also have to assume that the alternatives available to them were much worse than those in factories. And you would be right if you bothered to research it.

        • Blake

          They sent their kids to factories so the family wouldn’t starve to death. So? What’s that have to do with today?? Are you saying the poor should have to send their kids to work so they can feed themselves? What is your point??

    • dvermette

      I’m usually not so summary nor dismissive but Roger McKinney’s comment is ludicrous. Relying on Hayek he writes: “Most historians flat out lied about working conditions for children and women in the 19th century. They were given the easiest jobs on purpose and with a few exceptions were treated well because their parent loved them and would not let them be treated badly.”

      Below I have linked to some research into conditions of my working class forbears in a Maine mill town in the era of child labor relying not on any modern historian but on contemporary sources such as death certificates, board of health reports, parish records, the manuscript census and contemporary press reports (which are corroborated by the other sources). Although it focuses more on conditions in the company owned housing in a typical 1880s factory town than on labor conditions themselves, it nonetheless shows, at least in one case study, how apologists like the commentator above are the ones who twist history for ideological purposes. And my subsequent research showed that such conditions were by no means confined to my example from one small town. They were widespread. And they were repeatedly denounced as exceptionally bad not by latter-day historians with ideological biases, but by commentators of the Gilded Age itself who had at least an ounce of human decency. Any serious examination, not of modern historians, but of the primary sources will show that the received view of Dickensian conditions in the factory towns of the 19th century is no revisionism.

      And the reason children were “given the easiest jobs” was not out of kindness but because an 8 year old has a limited capacity mentally and physically. In the late 19th c. they worked up to 66 hours per week at incredibly simple and repetitive jobs because it was all that they were able to do.

      I wonder if Mr. McKinney has children. If he does then I wish I had a time machine to transport him and his children back to the 1880s where they could all get jobs in the free market paradise of the Gilded Age. I’m sure he’d be happy to have his children live and work in the conditions I describe below, since they are what the free market bore in that period.
      http://frenchnorthamerica.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-case-of-cabot-mill-part-1.html

      • “they were repeatedly denounced as exceptionally bad not by latter-day historians with ideological biases, but by commentators of the Gilded Age itself…”

        Of course they were, but by the wealthy a privileged. Yes, the working conditions for the masses were horrible by the standards of the wealthy of the day. But let me ask you, do you think the parents of those children were evil or stupid? They had to be one or the other if the forced their children to work in such awful conditions when they had better alternatives.

        On the other hand, if such conditions were better than any alternatives, that explains why parents put their children in them. Read Hayek and see what the real alternatives for them actually were – mostly death by starvation.

        • sallybanner

          Hayek is not a good source. Austrian school was a reaction to hyperinflation and is not relevant to today’s economy.

          • Not any truth to that at all. Menger is credited with being the founder by most historians, and he lived wrote in the 1870s, long before any hyperinflation. But Menger and others traced “Austrian” concepts back to the theologians at the University of Salamanca in the 16th century. Hayek was as good an historian as he was an economist and he corrects the dishonest history of socialists. Ignore him only if you want to remain very ignorant.

            So you believe those parents were stupid, evil or both?

        • lizmcneill

          So why do we want to go back to a world where the alternatives are death by starvation or children living in “horrible” conditions? Being bored in school doesn’t look so bad after all.

    • Carol Dentinger Rozier

      Just like a conservative; cut back on funding for education so it’s boring and meaningless. Then try to push boring, meaningless, dangerous, unhealthy work as a substitute, so a kid can earn a pittance while greedy capitalists increase their profit margin.

      • Just like a socialist to fabricate history. We spend about ten times as much per student as we did in the 1960s, even adjusted for inflation according to the US Dept of Education. The ignorance of you socialists is awe inspiring!

        • Carol Dentinger Rozier

          Most conservatives these days read right-wing biased, totally misleading articles and take them at their word. Read some statistics and think.

          https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/index.html

          • The Dept of Ed page supports my contention above. In fact, I got those stats if mentioned above from the Dept. The figures for 1960 aren’t on the page you linked to, but they’re on the site if you would bother to look.

            There is not data from any point in history that supports socialism.

    • Blake

      Yeah, McDonald’s or Walmart is going to teach a kid the skills he needs to program in Java or do market research. You’re clearly severely uneducated if you think education is “useless trivia and math” that doesn’t apply to a real job. Get out of your redneck bubble because working at the steel mill isn’t the only real job put there. In fact, most real jobs require just a liiiiitle bit more skill than manual labor.

  • lambchowder

    It’s very simple. There is no dignity in manual labor. It’s backbreaking and dulls the senses. Portsmouth dockyard workers were said to become “old men in the prime of their lives.” That isn’t flattering. It’s a sick habit of mind that free marketers, who usually aspire to nothing whatsoever in life but amassing wealth so lacking in imagination are they, that prey on the ‘common sense’ notion of poor rural people who have little to feel proud of other than the fact that they have jobs. Working in general has more dignity than inheritance or state dependency, but it obviously does not make “good” or “moral” people.

    The working class Navi’s of Victorian London were drunken brawlers who consumed whiskey to excess. The coal people of Kentucky, West Virginia and industrial laborers of Ohio are regressive, uncouth, indulge in self-destructive habits and tend to be overly suspicious, hostile and paranoid. The business owners and gentry, then as now, were hypocrites.They espoused family values and patriotism while the cavorted with prostitutes (today they exchange children for sexual favors) and avoided military service. Both partake in ludicrously wasteful activities like golf, parades of houses, greenscaping vs xeriscaping, commuting anywhere and everywhere, and buying fleets of cars and homes. They worry about their precious views of a spruce tree 40 miles away being violated by renewable energy which they lobby against.

    “dignity, meaning, freedom, virtue, creativity, character, and neighbor love.”
    We’ve established there’s no dignity. I’d scoff at anyone who wasn’t a skilled professional or non-charitable worker finding too much existential meaning in toil. Most jobs are pointless and soon to be redundant. Insurance sales, retail, call centers, hospitality, the make-work of the defense department, what we call “financial advising” but like most banking is nearly as destructive as creative, producing content for political blogs and newsletters, manufacturing a great deal of what we find in superstores – most of it is wasteful and silly. The creative endeavors that involve work that are the most useful are things like app designing and video editing. These are best learned at in engaged from one’s own home without the nuisance of a boss to interfere. Work is the opposite of freedom. Would you rather explore a park, go fishing in a river, explore derelict urban structures and fly a kite or would you rather sit in a factory making widgets with your fanatical boss who doesn’t undestand why he isn’t getting any fulfillment out of his work while you watch the clock?” Workers occasionally get to know each other, but so do students and Boy Scouts. Offices are renown for being a place more centered around gossip and back-stabbing than comradarie.

    The drive for cheap labor is one of the most unfortunate pursuits in mankind’s history – industrial or otherwise. The savings rarely significantly advantage anyone. A small portion belays wage cuts and price hikes. The rest go to shareholders, political candidates and executives who horde the wealth to shield their children from the very ennobling child labor (a-yus suhh, spanking and chopping wood made me the fine racist wife-batterer I am today) so that they can go to their own private “indoctrination centers” instead.

    Libertarians are never going to get it. Money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and if it was, why do they delight in withholding everyone else in society from bringing in their fair share. Just read Hard Times by Charles Dickens. Josiah Bounderby and Ebeneezer Scrooge are ridiculous people, but they’re not unfamiliar figures in history or modern man.

    Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate. – Bertrand Russell. You have your whole life to be miserable. Be happy while you can.

    • “There is no dignity in manual labor.”

      So you must thing there is great dignity in slowly starving to death.

      • sallybanner

        I don’t do manual labor yet somehow I manage to feed myself. There are options other than manual labor. For children, those options are school and play. For adults, there are desk jobs. Weird, huh?

      • SimoneNonvelodico

        No, he’s saying it’s something you do because you’d rather do it than starve to death. But “hey, it’s better than starving to death!” doesn’t make for great advertising in my book. That is literally where it stops. Being marginally better than being dead.

  • Jonathan Malesic

    Because you are so wrong about the facts of young people’s work and education, you have come to a terrible conclusion. In 2011, 29% of HS students worked for pay. And it’s likely that nearly all of them worked without pay at home and in their communities. In 2012-13, 70% of college students worked for pay, with 25% working full time. Your description of young people pursuing “superficial pleasures and one-dimensional modes of formation” simply does not match reality. It’s also ironic that you complain about “the powerful bureaucracies that seek [to] control our kids through top-down plans and programs.” What is work in America’s corporate sector if not submission to exactly that kind of control?

    • Joseph Sunde

      29% of HS students working for pay is a very, very low number, in my opinion. It also says nothing of middle schoolers, and it’s no wonder why (I was at least able to referee soccer in 7th grade).

      I would not consider college students “children,” so I’m not sure where you’re going with that.

      • Jonathan Malesic

        You quote Tucker approvingly throughout. And according to him, a chief problem is that “the average college graduate today has a hard time getting into his or her groove at the age of 23.” But in fact most college students are already working, and quite a few are working full time. That tells me that their (allegedly poor) work ethic is not what’s keeping them from getting into a career groove after college. The problem may lie elsewhere. (E.g., employers who are reluctant to hire because they’re unwilling to invest in training new employees.)

        • WarrenRoss

          What we need is a Government employment alternative. I am aware of the New Deal but not sure of its details. In Australia, between 1942-74, we had a Government employment option that put a floor under wages. Why would you take meanly paid and often abusive private sector job when a decent public one was available. This ended in the 1974 when the currently ideology was imposed across the anglophile countries.

      • Zaphod

        1/3 children with a paid job, and near 100% doing manual work at home is a low number? What are you looking for, 10-year-old full-time employees? I have a 13 year old and a 9 year old – nether of them have time for a job between school, sport, music and art. They do manual work at home. They need to have time to learn, develop and sleep.

        There are already not enough jobs out there for adults, why would we want them to be replaced (and they would be) with lower paid children?

        If this isn’t what you are trying to say, you’ve written this post very poorly.

        • Sondra Carr

          You know the answer to that question – why WOULD they want them replaced? Because they can justify paying less. These are the same folks who want to close our borders – then put the kids back to work – they make more money and screw over more adults. Of course they want to put women back in the kitchens too so then I guess the thought is that there will be twice as many “good” jobs for white adult men.

          Sigh.

      • Elisha Dasenbrock

        You have to realize that’s the entire country. Rich, spoiled kids included. Kids on several sports teams trying to get a scholarship because they can’t pay for college with a lay time job, included. Kids who have to watch their younger siblings so their parents can have a second job, included.

        Where I’m from nearly everyone had a part-time job in high school. I already lived on my own at 16, went to school, and had a job.

        Child labor laws are not the problem. People forming opinions and “solutions” without any basic research are the problem.

        • Rick Ramos

          Yes, you’re right about sports scholarships. So many kids put in so much time trying to earn so few scholarships. The dirty little secret though is there are countless dollars of academic scholarships left on the table every year at least in my opinion. When I was a collegiate academic advisor, I saw few students doing what it takes to earn those scholarships. As I often tell my students, doing well in college while working is an experiment in time management and sleep deprivation – it’s not a time to party for those who are not gifted.

  • Joseph Sunde

    I’m not sure where I suggested a “one size fits all” approach. I proposed challenging our cultural assumptions/priorities about children and work at each level of society, from the family to schools to policymaking. Right now we have a cookie cutter that cuts children (let’s say ages 13-15) out of the workforce altogether. I’d prefer we had the freedom //as children// to work if we wished, and I think the current minimums are too tight and constrained.

    I agree with you that each child will differ and that we should be attentive to the question of “why.” That’s exactly what I meant by: “What if we were to be more intentional about creating opportunities for work for our kids, or simply to more closely disciple our children toward a full understanding of the role of their work in honoring God and serving neighbor?”

    • Blake

      Children can’t decide that…their parents do. So you’re advocating for children to be at the mercy of their parents as to whether they have to prioritize making money for the family over their own education. I’d say you’re a truly sick person but I don’t believe that you actually believe this garbage. You’re just promoting propaganda for your corporate or religious donors….not sure which one it is. Maybe both.

  • Tyler Watts

    Mr. Sunde,

    I heartily agree with the thrust of this article. I recently gave a talk in which I recounted my own experience as a “child laborer” working in my family’s construction business. I started at age 10 and was blessed to be able to avoid child labor laws, minimum wage, payroll tax, and all sorts of government “protections.” My early start gave me what I like to refer to as “work privilege”–i.e. a superior work ethic and knowledge of labor markets that has blessed me with lifelong, productive employment (both in construction and other fields). Thank you for making this argument!

    link to youtube video of my talk: “Curing Poverty: What NOT to Do”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS0vqx2mhhQ&t=1291s

    Cheers,
    Tyler Watts
    Institute for Economic Education
    East Texas Baptist University

    • Blake

      Someone else with a religious motive….shocking! Btw, your work experience in construction gave you absolutely no advantage over anyone else. Especially not someone with an actual education or degree.

  • marc

    For those who read Dickens and think, “Gee, we need to return to the good old days!” You know, when the purpose of everything and every person was to create profit. Having been born and raised in coal country with my grandfather killed in the mines, I can rightfully use the word repulsive.

  • robertcooper

    “30 kids sitting in desks bored out of their minds, creativity and imagination beaten out of their brains”

    Like that doesn’t happen down a coal mine or on a factory assembly line?

  • “If kids were allowed to work and compulsory school attendance was abolished…” is a recipe for the Idiocracy at the very least.

    • Sondra Carr

      Idiots will keep voting against their own betterment. That’s definitely the point.

  • bec2224

    Oh yeah, lets put kids to work at fast food places, don’t like it when your burger comes to you flopped over the side of the roll, yeah lets have 12 and 13 year olds doing it, the ones with less attention spans then those 16 and 17 year olds. “Oh Johnny only got 15 orders wrong today, he’s doing so much better.” Child Labor…give me a break.

  • What!?!??

    So this is from a think tank funded by Dick and Betsy DeVos??

    Child labor, huh…. Yikes.

  • Jason Richardson

    I never comment on these things because… well comments sections are kind of the scrum of the internet. But since I wasted five minutes finding this to confirm the new Sec of Ed really was associated with a group that appears to support young children working I might as well. This is the kind of column you get when you ask a journalist to discuss labor, a mixture of quotes and hypotheticals from various schools of thought that appeal to the writer’s belief structure without considering problems beyond the theory. Let’s set aside the idea that we made child labor illegal for a series of good reasons and let’s ignore the mindless assertion that kids are, “forbidden from earning money and providing value to others”. Lets even gloss over the references to the dignity, nobility, and character which is derived from physical labor, although those are all words that at one time were used to defend the impact of slavery on African Americans. Let’s even ignore the bizarre claim that 23 year old college grads can’t find a “groove”, although 90% of 20-24 yr olds with a degree are employed while HS dropouts are mired at 50%.

    Lets just ignore all of that, because other commenters already touched on a lot of it and frankly I’m not sure I can wrap my head around the connection between a child’s value being linked to their income potential. So you want kids to work in foodservice and retail before they turn 16. Great. First problem, you can’t hire a kid without the parent’s permission. Kids can’t sign contracts, so I have to deal with mom or dad. Next, my insurance goes up because kids are accident prone. I can pay them less of course (one reason it’s illegal) but maybe not enough to replace the finger they lost in my deli slicer (then I get to deal with Mom and Dad some more). I can’t schedule them when I need them, which means I have to give them the after school and weekend shifts while my other staff are forced to open in the mornings, close late, and can never trade shifts, meaning I see my turnover from those guys go up. When they do work the little bastards are too short to reach the hose over the dishwasher, too weak to unload the truck, and they can’t work the register alone because I sell beer. I had them take out the trash but since commercial trash cans are 55 gallons of wet, heavy garbage they can’t lift it into the dumpster. Why did I hire these people?

    35% of 16-19 year olds are in the labor force, and 15% of them are unemployed, three times the national rate. This isn’t due to meddlesome regulation, were there demand for their labor the unemployment rate would be much lower. The jobs that kids used to do before those commie labor laws have long since been eliminated or automated.

    Well, most of them.

    You want your kids to work before they are 16? OK, find a farm have them ask for work. In over 20 states kids as young as 10 can go out in “extreme and brutal conditions” as you put it, and pick fruit, dig vegetables, and probably not ingest anything too bad from the insecticide and fertilizer will coat them at the end of the day. You may think a farmer wouldn’t hire your kids but you’d be surprised, between the IRS and Obama’s “silent raids” farmers have a tough time finding people to pick crops a lot of the time. They pay based on the yield also (no federal minimum wage for ag workers), so tell your kids to work faster so as to maximize their value. But you did say that the work that kids get need not involve 12 hours days in extreme and brutal conditions. I guess you just meant your kids.

    • WarrenRoss

      Great reply

  • saganhill

    This is disgusting. Kids do not work. Not in coal mines not in stores and especially not in coal mines. What you offer is nothing but cheap labor to an already cheap run capitalist society already paying slave wages. And we as tax payers are stuck subsidizing corporations lack of a living wage by giving their workers welfare via our tax money. Walmarts corporate welfare takes 6.2 billion a year of our tax money because they do not pay a living wage. We have to make up the difference and Walmart pockets it. Yeah, what would “jesus” do?

  • Your Liberal Friend

    Yet another example of the detachment of the right wing intelligentsia.

    I don’t know any parent who would discourage their kid to take a part time job. Maybe the crowd you hang with, but man, get out in the world.

  • CriminyRiver

    just as stupid with the title change as without.

    • Ironclad

      Guess it’s true then….You just can’t fix stupid

  • Zaphod

    Also, this idea might be wacky but … if your school has 30 kids sitting at desks all day, the solution is to fix the school, not send them to work.

  • Elisha Dasenbrock

    It’s an exciting life? They are earning money?

    Kids can earn money just fine without being shoved into the work force because rich person decides they want even cheaper labor.

    You’re romanticising child labor. Jobs, jobs that kids could do, they aren’t exciting. They have their entire lives to earn money for someone else, let them be kids. Give that excitement and money to adults who need to feed their kids because some people think a living wage is too much.

    I’d almost agree with you until you emphasize money and excitement. This is clearly a way to get cheap labor.

    Kids could also help around the house or volunteer or any number of things besides join the work force.

    Didn’t you hear Trump supporters? There aren’t enough jobs for the adults. This is disgusting

  • Katherine Farmer Griffith

    The fact is the children “with a long line of hobbies and electives and educational activities” will not be the ones going to work. The only children who would be going to work would be the poorest children and that would be to the detriment of their education. If you think otherwise you are either stupid or naive. As it is poor children don’t have the educational advantages, or even equality for that matter, of their wealthy and middle class counterparts. Child labor is just a way to keep the poorest least educated citizens poor and uneducated.The most dangerous threat to the establishment is a well educated and well informed populus.

  • CrowMeris

    Even if I were to believe (solely for the sake of argument) this precious bit of the self-written Trump family legend, tell me: were they pulled out of school and sent to work before they had a chance to enter high school? Were they ever, even for a second, mistreated on their “jobs”? Do you think that any of them faced, even once, the choice of working another chunk of hours off the books without pay or being fired for refusing?

    No. These were the boss’ spawn, treated with kid gloves – a boss so easily enraged that he threatens to throw the First Amendment out the window because somebody sent him a mean Tweet.

    You are comparing apples to carburetors, no matter how good the intention.

    • Sondra Carr

      The daughters were probably sexually harassed – you know, by the boss, AKA “Dad”.

  • CrowMeris

    Crafters or automation – depending on the type and quality of desk you want.

    Many high schools still teach “crafts” such as carpentry, auto mechanics (working toward ASE certification), computer science (many different areas), pre-and actual apprenticeships for electricians, and other paths toward well-paying careers.

    Do not confuse this with back-breaking, mind-numbing work as the author recommends, such as coal mining by uneducated children.

  • CrowMeris

    Please keep in mind that in the utopia dreamt of in their libertarian philosophy, there would be no food stamps (SNAP) or Medicaid/Medicare, because these are tax payer-provided benefits. For them, all taxation is theft.

  • kcdad

    I miss those days of child labor, work houses, and debtors prisons…
    Those glorious days that Charles Dickens wrote so fondly of in … what was that Christmas Story he wrote???

  • CrowMeris

    “Alas, as a day-to-day reality, work has largely vanished from modern
    childhood…”

    You need to hang with a better class of persons. Get out of your bubble.

    All of the children (and grandchildren) I know “work” in their homes. My oldest granddaughter at the grand age of three helps to clear the table after meals, puts away most of her laundry, and tidies up after herself (for a given quality of “tidy”, of course; she’s but three). Please let me know if I should be assigning her more physical labor, since you believe you’ve got this down to a science.

    “…with parents constantly stressing over the values of study
    and practice and “social interaction” even as they insulate their
    children from any activity that might involve risk, pain, or boredom.”

    Study IS work. Scholarship requires discipline and dedication.

    Practice, whether in music, ballet, skating, football, or track requires the same. They come with their individual shares of risks, pain, and boredom.

    The social interaction required to succeed in any of these areas will serve the child well in future endeavors, both paid and unpaid.

    Do your children work? In what field?

  • Arthur Clark

    Joseph Sunde… you can backslide, re-start and retract all you want. Your puny, transparent attempts at intellectual obfuscation are pitifully lacking. You do nothing more than insult your OWN sick and twisted ideology on the glorification of caste systems. Go back into hiding–Trump hasn’t gained a foothold yet.

  • Fillet John

    No child labor laws, no healthcare, no Unions, no future. No need for education. Kneel.

  • Bbstackr

    When I was 14 one of my part-time jobs was cleaning a small local bakery on Saturday afternoons. The elderly widow who owned it could not do all the work alone. I was paid one dollar an hour to scrape grease off the concrete floors around the ovens and fryers and to scrub the walls and vents. I don’t think I suffered any permanent harm, except for learning that there is no such thing as a “job Americans won’t do.”

    • nobody

      So, have you ever done this kind of jobs since then? No? Why?

  • lizmcneill

    Exactly! How are the 14-year-olds going to work at Walmart and Chick-Fil-a when their parents are already working there?

  • CrowMeris

    Forty-seven years after the events: My right arm still has three super-cool silver dollar-sized burn scars (and a baker’s dozen smaller ones) from a deep fryer “incident” when my boss tossed in a scoop of ice cubes just as I was lowering in a basket. He did it as a joke. Yeah, really cool.

    And the outside tip of my left finger still has a deep indentation from the slicing I got while cutting up raw chickens with a dull knife.

    I was fourteen, working in a chicken restaurant. Vive la régression!

  • Jim Fritz

    Why did you edit the original article? By deflecting criticism, aren’t you cheating yourself out of a valuable formative experience?

  • Chris Costabile

    Everyone else seems to have covered the absurdity and backwards thinking inherent in this article, so I’ll just say the following…

    If the author is truly interested in invigorating kids with creative, exciting work that would build their communities and teach them valuable life lessons, he would advocate for their parents to help them establish their own business and learn how to run it from the top down.

    You want to empower kids? Teach them how to be the boss, not take orders from one. Teach them how to turn a unique idea or a useful invention into a service or product that will sell thousands or perhaps millions. Teach them problem-solving, organization, and communication skills that will enable them to lead a company, with others employed under them, toward their goals.

    I suspect the author is too fearful of supporting this, lest one of these kids might be HIS boss one day. No, instead he encourages them to work low wages and long hours for Walmart – training for a life of servitude, a career perpetually 50 rungs down on the corporate ladder.

    • your_friend_cassie

      And if it’s about service, involve them in charitable work. How is stocking shelves at Walmart “service”?

  • Milt69

    This is completely horrific. How can anyone justify or advocate for child labor?

  • Rick Ramos

    In terms of referees for youth soccer games, yes middle school students often referee elementary school age games, at least in many recreational house leagues. Two of my best U-14 girls would finish our game on Saturday then hang around the complex to referee the U-10 and U-8 games for like $15 a game while working in concert with a 16-year who was the lead referee. Later, at 16 or so they would work as linesmen with an adult referee for the older kids’ games in the house rec league. Of course, all this referee work required the youngsters to complete the appropriate referee courses that were scaffolded on the basis of their age and the needed skills and temperament. It’s not a real living, but it gave the kids a better understanding of the game and lets them make a few bucks. A few really enthusiastic players keep getting higher and higher referee training and licensing and actually mad
    e significant money in later high school and college, but those are few and far between. The basic rule seems to be that you have to be two age groups older than the kids you’re assigned as a referee for, e.g. you have to be at least U-12 to referee U-8 games and U-14 for U-10.
    That said it has no bearing on what this individual is talking about as the purpose is not to make a living for these kids or their families but to compensate kids who are learning more about their sport and compensating them for their time, in both training to be a ref and reffing the games. What this individual is referring to is child labor of a type not seen in this country since the Great Depression era, a form of labor which is oppressive and takes advantage of youngsters who have little or no experience to discern what is happening to them and even less power to push back against the oppression.

  • Rick Ramos

    I think it’s one thing to do hard labor at a construction site or elsewhere knowing it’s a temporary thing and something else to do it beginning at age 16 and facing a life of unremitting manual labor with little hope of working your way out of it. Sometimes, but only rarely does this sort of thing happen for real, meaning the kids starts at the bottom and earns his or her way to the boss’ office, especially in today’s society where the privileged are the privileged now and forever more.

  • Makes ya go hmm

    OMG! Where’s my safe space!?!?!?! This article is scary!!!

  • mjw1952

    I have a better suggestion. Every manager should have to actually do the work below then. Every CEO should have to work the entry level and other lower level jobs in their companies. Janitors, assembly lines, cashier, stock, everything. Then they might learn a work ethic.

  • PlanetoftheAtheists

    If you want to protect, nurture and educate children, start by letting them be kids in the short time they have to be kids, and for goodness sake, keep them the HELL AWAY from religion!

  • BeaM

    ‘Scuse me but, disclaimer aside, your last line says it all – “a long day’s work and a load of sweat” have plenty to teach.
    Sure – to teenagers whose attention span, bodies and minds are equipped to withstand and benefit from a “long day’s work.”
    Kids should be challenged by learning, not sitting bored in a classroom. Fund education adequately and school would be plenty. De-fund it like the GOP does year after year and then swoop in to blame the educational system for being inadequate? TYPICAL GOP SHENANIGANS!
    If stupid standardized test were abolished and real teaching were allowed and funded again, they wouldn’t be bored, they’d be learning critical thinking, the history they don’t want repeated (and the history that they do), the value of arts and artistic expression, skills that are useful in life like working with machines, building things, doing housework, budgeting, and learning the classics and philosophy along with the 3 Rs and the scientific method.
    But that would make them well-educated, well rounding, well informed voters who would be able to recognize a load of hooey like this when they saw it and would understand how the GOP lies to them at every turn to keep them divided, to keep them down, and to keep them hating “others” so they don’t turn their anger where it should be directed – at the forces that want all the wealth and power for themselves.
    Go peddle your nonsense somewhere else and stop trying to turn the 99% in this country into a backward nation while the 1% idle away their time on the backs of the people and their “loads of sweat.”

  • sajoltman

    LOL at your weaselly half-retraction. Maybe you should go see what child labor actually looks like in places that still have it today. It has little to do with your fantasy.

  • nobody

    I absolutely love this kinds of articles, it really exposes the world view the rich have in regard to the poor.
    Because, let’s be realist here, rich kids won’t be made to wipe floors.

  • fmd123

    Thinking that it’s ok for children to drudge in a chik-fila or a walmart is appallingly stupid.

    Walmart is well known for mistreating it’s employees.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/04/17/walmart-pays-workers-poorly-and-sinks-while-costco-pays-workers-well-and-sails-proof-that-you-get-what-you-pay-for/#3c7e8934bc3d
    http://www.workplacefairness.org/reports/good-bad-wal-mart/wal-mart.php

    https://www.consumeraffairs.com/retail/walmart_emp.html

    Walmart is notorious for changing workers’ schedules at the drop of a hat. How would a kid be able to handle that?

    Chik-fil-a:
    http://www.salon.com/2012/08/11/7_things_the_media_missed_salpart/
    Read the section on employee mistreatment.
    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/employee-left-chick-fil-a-post-company-safe-place-people-hate-article-1.1169371

    A child’s job should be learning so that he or she can get a better job than a low-paying drudgery.

  • fmd123

    Please give a source for your assertion that Trump’s kids did manual labor. I can’t find any mention of it anywhere. Might be a fake news item.

  • Tyler Watts

    Nice house and material comforts–check.
    A few hours of work? Try 50-60 hour weeks during summers (you’ve got to make hay while the sun shines).
    Vacations? Inexpensive, but sufficient.
    Well-off family? Yes–that’s precisely my point: my family was well-off, and I AM well-off because my privileged family transmitted to me the privilege structure, which in my view is primarily work-based. Education is also important, but for me work takes precedence (and some of the most important learning happens at work anyway).
    When we privileged conservatives argue for the merits of child labor, we are not talking about mine or factory drudgery–we’re talking about exposing kids to the modern work world and getting them a head start on their education.
    But hey, thanks for interpreting my argument without bothering to listen to it.

  • Peter

    Starting with the explanation in the update section, this post is complete nonsense that is dangerously retrogressive. I just became a dad – I dream about my daughter asking big questions about the world, finding a career that makes life a little better for others, not working at a fast food joint forever. I really can’t imagine that you don’t want the same for your own children. Most troubling about this is that we all know that this would essentially create two tracks of a segregated society – those with the means to provide their children with quality education and those who don’t have the means and need their children to work. High quality education should be available and provided to all, and it’s absurd that would even be up for debate.

  • RobertEricJackson

    “The photos surely point to times of extreme lack, of stress and pain” WTH?! The children in the photo do not look they they are experiencing extreme lack of stress and pain. Are we looking at two different photos? For the poor, the Gilded Age included long hours for little pay without safety regulations. Children worked under these dangerous conditions and faced death and mutilation. What world does the writer live in that he wants to bring even a tiny bit of that back? I don’t know who he hangs out with but modern kids have chores, go to school and can work on farms. There are limits on how long and what they can do because they are kids. As for jobs at Walmart and Chick Fil A, grownups work there because there are no alternative employment for them.

    • So you think the parents were evil or stupid? Clearly, if the children had better alternatives, such as staying at home doing nothing, then the parents had to be very evil or stupid. But if you knew any real history you would know that their alternative was slow starvation.

      • RobertEricJackson

        Not at all The parents were desperate and had other children that needed food. So we agree on that issue. I’m not really certain what you believe you disagree with me about? We seem to be agreeing that it was a horrible time to be poor and a child.

        • You wrote, “What world does the writer live in that he wants to bring even a tiny bit of that back?” So I assumed you were agreeing with the socialists.

          Just because the author thinks children ought to be taught to work doesn’t mean he wants to recreate all of the misery and poverty of the 19th century. I think teaching children how to work is much more important than anything they learn in school. I taught my three children to work first by paying them to do chores, then getting jobs as soon as possible. I have known a lot of farmers and ranchers who start their children out working on the farm very early and my personal experience with those children is that they are much more responsible and mature.

  • your_friend_cassie

    Shorter version: educated Americans vote for Democrats. Close the schools now.

  • kateblue

    What a bunch of absolute drivel! While kids have shown to statistically be entering the workforce less, by and large the ability to make that choice is a luxury still only afforded to kids in the upper and middle class. Working class kids still often have to work as soon as 14 years old (yes there are states like the one I live in that allow kids to work limited hours at 14), not necessarily to supplement the family income but to have anything for themselves. I know my three children had to and my interactions at work with many younger people bears that out; children in lower income families are usually told pretty early on that they will have to start providing for the extras of their needs outside of food and shelter, which the parents still provide. Many have to work to buy their first car, buy school clothes or have any money for extras for social activities.

    Other than that, middle class kids chose not to work because most are engaged in activities in school or outside school to prepare them for college; sports, clubs and other activities.

    Much of this silly article centers around the even sillier commentary from Jeffrey Tucker, whoever he is, who seems to have slept through history class on the days when they talked about the brutality of labor in the 19th century. He apparently also, it appears never worked a low-wage retail or laboring job his entire life because not one single person who does feels that it uplifts their soul, raises them to new heights or whatever fantasies he applies. Its damned job. I job, a soul-sucking, mind-numbing job where instead of typing your thoughts on a computer and somebody thinking your words mean enough to put in a column, you are told to shut up, do the job or get the hell out for the next one. And at the end of the week, when you receive your paycheck, unless you are a kid with someone else paying your way, you will again feel that soul-sucking sensation when you look at the meager pay you received for your 150% effort. Now you can decide, do you pay the light bill or rent?

    Now getting back to the mind-numbing, soul-sucking part. We have a democracy. In a democracy we need our citizenry to be able to make basic decisions about their future and that of the country when they choose who to vote for. Hopefully they will make a good and sound decision after considering all the elements at hand.

    Lo! But that requires an education! And I’m not talking about just knowing the basic three R’s like arithmetic and reading and writing, I’m talking about critical thinking, history, civics and the rest. Already we have a Christian-based right-wing nutbag organization in Texas that does the final decision making on high school text books and you know what we have? We have a population that is about one third ignorant, sexist bigots and then another portion of privileged jerks who write columns saying that it isn’t important for certain peoples in our fine democracy to have a clue what is going on in their country. I suppose your resolution for that Mr. Sunde would be to just take away that problem by removing them from the voting roles! Hey, after all, as it is we have a problem with people getting to the polls because employers won’t let them go.

    Children need the nurture that comes from a healthy family and community throughout their childhood and that childhood is also during their teens. Girls and boys need to be engaged in activities that are safe and regulated by adults that care about their development. They don’t need to be thrown to the wolves to be exploited by corporate monsters out for every buck they can squeeze from anyone, even children. Children died working in mines and mills, they were horribly disfigured, disabled and often were malnourished and diseased. They most often did not attend school, were largely illiterate or semi-literate and never had the pleasure of enjoying the chance to reach their own potential as unique individuals. Many died before they reached the twenties from disability and occupational disease. But what’s most important is that almost all of them suffered from the deprivation of guidance, love and security that children need in order to grow into productive and emotionally healthy adults and contributory citizens.

    As it is already children who start working early often lose interest in academics unless their parents hold a hard line on them. Employers will pressure them to work later than they should and their exposure to adults as a large part of their social upbringing is not always a positive thing; its the type of adults and the types of activities and values that children are exposed to that can make a positive or a very negative difference in their lives. In addition, neither middle school aged nor high school age kids have the ability to determine for themselves when they are being exploited by adults or not.

    This is absolutely the dumbest piece of commentary I’ve read in a long time and it represents a frightening trend in our society. It reflects the idea that many have adopted that the lower sector of society, from children to adults, is disposable fodder to feed the endless greed of corporate machinery.

    I don’t know who paid you or your colleague Mr. Tucker to write such garbage, or how much, but for selling out your soul intellectually the way you are apparently willing, your God will have judgment waiting for you.

    • The “history” classes you mention were actually socialist propaganda. Yes, working condition for everyone were horrible in the 19th century, at least measured by the rich or by today’s standards. So why do you think parents sent their children to work in those conditions? Were they evil or just stupid? After all, if they had better opportunities elsewhere then the parents had to be evil or stupid.

      The truth is the alternative to the “horrible” working conditions was slow starvation. As soon as parents earned enough, they quit sending their children to work in factories. That’s the real history you’ll never hear from socialists.

      And what do you think children are doing in school if not work? It’s hard work that they don’t get paid for and most of what they learn is totally useless, just like the history you learned.

      • Amperzand

        “As soon as” the parents began earning enough. Yes. Because increasing pay and good living wages were common things among the lower class, which every family could reasonably expect to obtain through their hard work. Wait, no, that’s wrong. It wasn’t like that at all.

        Yeah, sure the alternative was starvation. Your point? I’m legitimately unsure what you’re trying to convince us of here. Obviously it was that or starve, why the hell would they do it otherwise? Does that make it acceptable?

        • Absolutely it makes children working acceptable! Are you nuts! Working is always better than starving to death. The manufacturers who offered them jobs so they wouldn’t starve were doing a good work.

  • Bolt

    Dear Akex,

    Your effort is the standard parade of horribles of the Leftist mentality. There are few alive in the US today who experienced the 1920s problems and certainly no one who experienced the child labor abuses of the Northern industrialized cities of the 1800s a la “Danbury Hatters.”

    So what has your vision for the rearing of yong men and women done to prepare them for reality? They are entitled to this that and the other without first evaluating the personal cost at achievement? That is precisely what I took from your attack, misguided as it was, on the piece from Mr. Sunde.

    We now have an environment in which Child Protective Services are so intrusive in the olives of families that they remove the children from a parent when his naked toddler runs out the house and a nosey neighbor reports him. Really? But that is your world.

    Never allow children to participate in any unsupervised activities. Always have an adult present to solve any disputes instead of allowing the children to resolve their own disputes.

    And Heaven help us that children might have an opportunity to do some actual work. Like build athletic fields, plant fields, harvest the crops, or just to go outside and to learn on their own. I had a parent tell me that he could not allow his children to go into the fields or forest because of fear of getting poison ivy. Sad, sad.

    We are raising children today who are clueless about the real world and could not think outside the box if their lives depended on it, and their lives do depend on it. I had a wife, now ex-wife, who, I learned after the divorce, espoused lots of what you talk about–she had told our son, “You don’t have to do that; it’s too hot for you. Your father will do that.” I later learned that she had interceded in many instances when I had asked for something to be done. She did not grow up in the deprived South like I did, where we expected each person to pitch in and do his part. My son suffered for it and suffers today from those lessons–“if it appears to be a bit tough for you, no reason to do it.” If you do not recognize that as what Mr. Sunde is trying to avoid, then you have missed his point.

    • Robomummy

      As person who actually works for child protective services and regularly works with children and families who have difficulty raising their kids I can reliably say that Bolt had no idea what they are talking about. Furthermore they present a woefully misguided view of the current social and economic problems that this article’s idea would create.

      They say children today are being raised clueless about the real world while recent studies in child development often point to the exact opposite. What the argument presented by bolt fails to take into account is the rapidly changing modern world that most people in general (let alone young people) find hard to adapt to. But they would know that if they bothered to do a modicum of research.

    • elise krentzel

      To your point, I agree that helicopter parents have created zombies of our kids. I allowed my kid to play in a sandpit with cat pee or eat bugs. I do not zoom in on his activities and give him ample space to learn on his own. I do not interfere with his friends, he’s got to learn to figure life out himself but I am there to comfort and support him every step of the way. Still it is a far cry from putting him in a coal mine or a Walmart or sending him off to work at 8 years old. NO that is atrocious. Now my son is 15 and is working part time. If it were mandatory that little people were put to work I’d get the hell out of this country as fast as I could.

      • So you believe that if we repealed the child labor laws that thousands of parents would make their kids drop out of school and work in coal mines or at Walmart and coal miners and Walmart would hire them?

        • Blake

          Yes. You can guarantee that Walmart would be hiring them as young as possible as long as they could stock shelves etc. And there’s be no shortage of poor families who’d be willing to send their kids off to make extra cash for the family. You apparently forget the conditions that led to these laws in the first place.

  • Loura Lawrence
  • On what grounds were the conditions unethical or the pay unacceptable? What are you comparing them to? Like most socialists, you’re probably comparing them to the state of the rich or to conditions today. You need to compare them with the situation at the time.

    According to the theologians at the University of Salamanca in the 16th century, working conditions and wages are just or ethical if they are freely agreed to by both parties. That was the case with child labor in the 19th century.

    And if you knew any economics at all you would know that the prices that consumers can pay for a good determine wages. Employers do not determine wages. Because people couldn’t pay more more the products the factories produced, employers couldn’t pay higher wages.

    And because the parents freely chose to have their children, whom they loved, work in those factories rather than take other opportunities available, proves that the conditions and wages in the factories were better than any alternative.

    Your beef is with the prevailing poverty of the time compared with today. Everyone was poorer back then. Life was much harder. You have capitalism, which includes free markets, to thank that your lifestyle is much better.

  • Dave

    Yea in what capacity are you advocating for children to enter the workforce?

    With your resume and reputation,k, the ramifications are just another waypoint towards poor people working slave wages to enrich you oh Betsy Devos.

    So please, with your long op-ed up there, what kind of labor boundaries are you considering? What would a 11 year old do at Chick-fil-a? What would a 9 year old actually do at walmart? Labor boundaries will always be pushed well beyond your ideals you propose. Abuses will occur and the protections will be threatened. The ideas you say you don’t advocate for will become a consequential part of the arrangement. It’s how loosening restrictions always turn out. Oil spills, pollution, privitization, etc. It ends up being a philosophical victory for you and a destructive consequence for us. “But we beat socialism” so WHAT! You make money from the endeavor. That seems to be a consistent outcome. we lose money, you get our money. You call it capitalism. Yes you are certainly capitalizing on us when you make those changes.

    Every conservative idea has turned into a ecological or social nightmare for those living in the midst of the impacted zone. You know the people get screwed over.

    But it didn’t start out that way. it’s always presented as an extreme unlikely scenario. So the “invisible hand” seems to only work for you to make money, and only ends up building some kind of character you think we need.

    We are tired of rich people advocating more hardship for working poor for the sake of building character. You won’t. Your family won’t your children wont. Why should we?

    • “what kind of labor boundaries are you considering?”

      Why not let the parents decide?

      “”But we beat socialism” so WHAT! ”

      We didn’t beat socialism. Socialist countries collapsed because their people were starving to death. So what? So nobody in the West starved to death.

      “Every conservative idea has turned into a ecological or social nightmare…”

      Read the histories of Russia and Eastern Europe after the collapse of communism. We learned that both were the worst environmental disasters in all of human history. The US has the least pollution in the world and the most polluted places are government owned.

      “We are tired of rich people advocating more hardship for working poor for the sake of building character. ”

      Yeah, the last people you want to take advice from are successful ones. By all means, take the advice of the mass murderers like Stalin, Mao and Castro who caused millions of their own people to starve to death.

  • Pat

    Disgusting! The laissez-faire, free market worshipers of Money have always loathed education for the huddled masses….now they have their high priestess close to a government position where she can carry out one of their main goals, which is destroying America’s educational system. As they attempt this destruction, they must also justify child labor, which is the goal of this article.

    These dangerous individuals no longer need “intellectuals” and an educated populace to enrich them, they need obedient servants to stock their shelves, do their laundry, and serve them dinner….they need slaves! Educated people don’t take kindly to bondage, thus downplaying the importance of education and releasing ‘feel good’ articles about the ethics of work, child labor in this case, is a strategy they must adhere to to accomplish their goal of creating a submissive society. Even more disgusting is the evil inhumane way these money worshipers use religion against people to advance their goals. Dear Writer, your false cloak of Christianity is not hiding your true agenda and you are certainly not a Christian.

    Child labor is illegal, let’s keep it that way! To imagine a young child working, instead of learning to read and gaining the knowledge he/she needs to become a successful and well rounded adult just breaks my heart…but then, unlike these creatures, I have a heart…. and I don’t worship money.

    Doing nothing at this point is no longer an option. Call your Senator and sign all petitions to stop Betsy DeVos.

  • Dr. Weezil

    The reality is that when children were legally allowed work they were
    exploited, mostly by their own parents, who forced them to go to work in
    order to supplement the household income.

    If you mean by “exploited” and “supplement the household income,” you mean “brought in additional money so that they could eat,” then yes. If you mean “allow the parents to sit on their asses and not work” you’d be very, very wrong. I think you have a fantasy land understanding of how that age of American history actually worked or of how it works in very, very impoverished countries today.

    Have you figured out a way to protect children from being exploited by
    their own families? Or is that just supposed to be character building?

    Let me guess? Let the State take possession of children? Yeah, nothing could go wrong with that.

    Many European countries have very successful models of vocational
    training and apprenticeships (look a Germany for example) where children
    at high school level can move into a stream that trains them less with
    general academic studies and instead with trade or engineering skills.
    Though that might be evvviiiilll socialism to American ears.

    Well, you can’t do that here because everyone has been convinced that college will get you a desk job making six figures and all of these special snowflakes can’t be bothered to learn icky, stinky trades.

  • “conditions and pay were not “freely agreed to by both parties”

    Where’s your evidence? And who coerced whom?

    “Industrialism was a form of slavery…”

    You’re channeling Marx, who was wrong about everything, but especially economics.

    “most parents didn’t choose to have a pack of kids.”

    They chose to have sex, so they chose to have children. But what does that have to do with anything?

    “This isn’t about values and work, it’s about greed and the idolization of capitalism as if it were a plan from God on high.”

    Capitalism came from God on high. Read the Torah. The Israeli government had no executive or legislative branch, only judges who applied God’s 631 laws. Most of those were religious ceremonial. Some were moral laws, including giving to the poor, that the courts didn’t enforce. The civil law enforced by judges was mostly about protecting private property and punishing murder. They had no taxes. That’s pure capitalism.

    Modern capitalism came about because the theologians at the University of Salamanca applied Biblical principles to economics. The saw that God had sanctified private property, but that property can’t exist without free markets.

    “Read “The Jungle” (Upton Sinclair).”

    Read the truth about Sinclair. He made up most of it. It’s a work of fiction.

    • Loura Lawrence

      It’s frightening to me that you apparently know so little about the history of Industrialism, but are so loud in supporting it.

      Where’s my evidence? History, photos, documentaries, journals, etc. Start here: http://www.history.com/shows/men-who-built-america/about

      I have read Marx, and I was shocked to find myself agreeing with much of what he had to say…to a point. And that point was violent overthrow of governments and the violent silencing of any who might disagree. But Marx understood well the plight of the average person. It’s not a big book, and is worth anyone’s time. Why do you disagree with Marx’s economics?

      Most women did not choose to have children, most women were beaten, raped, coerced, in poverty, etc. Have you read any Charles Dickens (he wrote during England’s Industrial Revolution)? I recommend Oliver Twist.

      What you described of the Mosaic Law aligns far more with socialism than capitalism. Which makes sense, when you compare it to Acts 4:32-32, “All the
      believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their
      possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”

      And Matthew 19:21-24, ” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
      than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

      The judges were individual military leaders and became obsolete after the Israelites (sinfully) demanded a king. The Levites were priests who oversaw rituals, cleanliness, moral behavior, etc. The “elders” were local officials of the people: https://gotquestions.org/Old-Testament-elders.html

      The School of Salamanca did not universally accept the notion that “capitalism came from God”, but did emphasize natural rights of man, and from there defended a kind of proto-free market economics (not as a gift from God) “barring monopoly, fraud, and government intrusion”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_of_Salamanca

      But Industrialism in the 19th century, and Industrialism trends today, hinge on both monopolies and fraud. Oh, and corruption. For rich business tycoons could/can afford to pay government officials at many levels to look the other way while their businesses used and abused all around them for one more Almighty Dollar.

      Finally, I think you are confused about “The Jungle”. It is historical fiction, of course, that doesn’t mean it’s “made up”. Sinclair was a social advocate and wrote about the abuses he saw everyday. He interviewed immigrants in real life and based his work on their stories, though the family featured in the book wasn’t real. Fiction often contains much truth, and authors write what they know and have seen. John Bunyan wrote a made-up fiction story called “The Pilgrim’s Progress”, but it contains much truth nevertheless.

      And for the record, I believe capitalism can be a good thing, so long as it is carefully watched and tempered, not monopolized, which is it’s natural end.

      • I taught economic history for six years at college. You on the other hand no nothing but Marx.

        I disagree with Marx because economists have proven everything he wrote to be ridiculously wrong for over 150 years.

        Yes, I have read a lot of Dickens. He wrote fiction.

        “What you described of the Mosaic Law aligns far more with socialism than capitalism.”

        You really should read the Mosaic Law first. It sanctifies private property, as I wrote. Socialist destroys property.

        “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor…” But you have to own something before you can sell it, hence capitalism. Giving to the poor of your own property is pure capitalism. Socialism steals from others and gives some to the poor. There is no virtue in that.

        “The School of Salamanca did not universally accept the notion that “capitalism came from God”

        I wouldn’t place so much trust in Wikipedia. You should read Alejandro Chafuen’s “Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of the Late Scholastics.” The fact is they began with the Biblical principles of the sanctity of property and other principles and reasoned from them. Also, natural law was nothing but an attempt to discover through reason Biblical principles. They worked together.

        “But Industrialism in the 19th century, and Industrialism trends today, hinge on both monopolies and fraud.”

        The opposite is true. But you have to read something besides Marx to discover the truth. In fact, almost all monopolies that have ever existed were created by governments. Monopolies in a free market are next to impossible because of competition. All monopolies in the US today have been created by the state.

        ” Sinclair was a social advocate and wrote about the abuses he saw everyday.”

        No, he lied about what he saw.

        “And for the record, I believe capitalism can be a good thing, so long as it is carefully watched and tempered, not monopolized, which is it’s natural end.”

        You’re regurgitating Marx again. You’ll never understand the world until you read something besides Marxist propaganda.

        • Loura Lawrence

          *Know “nothing but Marx”. Did you teach micro or macro economics? Which college? So you have a degree in economics or history or a related field? You understand the subtle but significant differences between Marx’s communism (the state holds all property and money and, therefore, power. A belief which I DO NOT hold) and non-Marxist modern socialism whose underpinnings seem to be “everyone help everyone else to the best of their ability”?

          Why did you bother to respond to my comment? You added nothing to the discussion. You just used logical fallacy after logical fallacy to try and discredit me. You have not said you read Marx yourself, so how would you know what the man wrote? Which parts, precisely, of what I have written, align with Marx’s ideas?

          “Free and public education for all children” and the end of “the exploitation of children by parents” are two quotes from “The Communist Manifesto” I do agree with. Who wouldn’t agree with those? What was our nation founded on, but the idea of freedom from tyranny through free and public education? We had public schools and laws for attendance before we were a country!

          Did you read or try to understand what I wrote, because I agreed with you to a point about the Salamanca scholars. I said I saw no evidence for the claim those scholars directly stated or implied “capitalism came from God”, and you have not given me any evidence to the contrary.

          I looked up the book you recommended, but have some reservations about it, the main one being it’s chief editor just happens to be associated with the Acton Institute, not to mention it was also published by the Acton Institute. That doesn’t give me confidence the book is unbiased or not agenda-driven. Are you the author?

          Please explain to me how the 19th century American government fostered monopolies, instead of the oil, steel, etc. tycoons? I suppose fraud is also a completely foreign concept to free market, and only comes about through government intrusion rather than humanity’s inherent sin-nature?

          Please explain to me how Sinclair lied about what he saw, and which parts of the book are false, and what sources you have to prove it. Have you read it? Did you know Sinclair was a Christian? It seems you are out to malign a good man whom you know nothing about.

          • “everyone help everyone else to the best of their ability”?

            That has nothing at all to do with Marx or any form of socialism known to mankind. It is Christian charity and part of capitalism.

            “You have not said you read Marx yourself…” Yes, I have read Marx.

            “Which parts, precisely, of what I have written, align with Marx’s ideas?”

            All of it, except the nonsense of “modern socialism whose underpinnings seem to be “everyone help everyone else to the best of their ability”?

            “That doesn’t give me confidence the book is unbiased or not agenda-driven. Are you the author?”

            I wish I was the author. I doubt you would have confidence in anything not written by a socialist. Still, you have to read something by non-Marxists or you will never know what they believe or why. It says a lot that you consider only socialists to be unbiased.

            “Please explain to me how the 19th century American government fostered monopolies,”

            There were no monopolies in 19th century US. The economic definition of a monopoly is 100% of a market with no close substitutes. What socialists call “monopolies” in the late 19th century, the robber barons, were nothing more than companies with a large part of the market in new industries. As the industries matured they lost their large share of the market. Standard Oil lost its dominance through competition long before the anti-trust laws were applied to it.

            Look around you at this moment. What true monopolies do you see? There are lots of them – all utilities, cable TV, all drug companies with patents. All of them got their monopolies from the government.

            “Please explain to me how Sinclair lied about what he saw…”

            The same way every socialist lies – he invented things he didn’t see. I doubt a Christian would lie as he did.

          • You have mastered the art of circular arguing well.

  • David

    Yet even as we celebrate our civilizational departure from childhood polio, we ought to be wary of falling into a different sort of lopsided lifestyle.

    This is the most repugnant piece I’ve seen on the internet in a while, and that’s saying something.

    • If we got rid of laws prohibiting child labor, what do you think would happen?

  • Trixieroselee

    Here’s some pop-psychology with a basis in the real world. Observed over years as a Personnel Manager at a large State Agency.
    Children are not harmed by work. Farm kids grow up helping out, same with ranchers, et al. They still attend school, play sports, go to college, contribute to society, and are happily productive.

    Children born to older, highly educated parents, who often had to resort to fertility treatments to have children, are often victims of their well meaning parents. Hovering, organizing their lives ad nauseum, studying “to the test”. These are the little snowflakes that struggle to accept other opinions, that need safe spaces, that believe themselves to be good, kind and honest. But, are intolerant, nasty, with honesty a foreign concept. They must maintain the mantle of perfection.

    Of course, these are overarching observations. But, I have seen so many new college graduates fail simply because they lack what is called A Work Ethic! Which usually is merely that they’ve never learned how to function on their own, sink or swim.

    I vote for kids learning how to build a patio, pour cement, drive a tractor. Spend some Summers doing manual labor for a no nonsense boss, because they need the money! Those are the ones who succeed!

  • elise krentzel

    We are living in the post-industrial 21st century. A mandate for all generations including those not yet born is to live with basic human rights, including no child labor, food on the table, a place to live and education. That is precisely the values we sought for and achieved somewhat in America and certainly far more so in western Europe. This right wing fanatical approach to “child labor” is appalling and backward, hypocritical and tyrannical. As Alex wrote below, harmful work in grueling conditions for adults, let alone children is what many are against and are standing up to in the third world. If the author would kindly do the grueling labor and put his children to task he may have a completely different viewpoint. The demoralizing premise of this article harks to theocratic dictatorships which with Pence, deVos and company is a direction they are trying to take America.
    No we will not go there nor support it!

  • Liz Johnston

    I agree. 15-16 year olds should be joining the workforce. I had a job at 14 in a family business. I am 44, I have always had a job… my kids are required to do activities, maintain grades and have a part time job. They will be ok. Wake up and stop babying your kids. They need to be trusted and you not allowing them the experience of job (volunteer or paid) is destroying them.

  • Blake

    Just not true. Plenty of places hire high school kids. I worked since I was 15 but honestly would’ve been better off if I didn’t have to until after high school….And that’s what good parents are doing these days. They want their kids to focus on school which is literally more difficult today than it ever has been. Teens can learn responsibility a hundred other ways….Manual labor is not some God given gift that gives you special insight into the world.