“We love you, Mr. Gingrich!” (It’s the hard knock life.)

I haven’t commented much on the Republican debates or their primary shennanigans (mostly because I think they’re both absurd and tiresome) but sometimes the crazzy just demands mockery.

Via The Daily Beast we learn that Newt Gingrich has called for the repeal of child labor laws and for children to perform the janitorial work in their schools.  At Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government!  I’m not kidding–there’s a video at the bottom of the linked story.  This makes his 1994 proposal to bring back orphanages look almost responsible and moderate. (Gingrich’s recent thoughts on child labor makes Michele Bachmann’s comments from an earlier debate this summer look positively prescient!)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but by my lights that’s really slapdash janitorial work.

What is it with these Republicans?  They respect life until it achieves a third grade education, and then it’s down to the mines?  Why don’t they just cut out the middle man and, in the words of the old Dead Kennedys song, “Kill the Poor?”

19 thoughts on ““We love you, Mr. Gingrich!” (It’s the hard knock life.)

  1. The cold-hearted misanthrope in me never tires of stories like these, for which you feel obliged to throw in a disclaimer that you’re not exaggerating or inventing the information. In the words of Dave Barry, “I am not making this up.”

    I’ve never been able to figure out if Gingrich is speaking to some mysterious off-the-wall potential constituency, or if he’s simply a high-functioning lunatic. No doubt this election cycle will clarify nothing for me in that regard.


  2. Gingrich is not much different from Bachmann or Santurum, or even Perry. They have a dedicated audience. You can call them lunatic or evil. I take the latter.

    Are the Democrats much better? In the huge Democratic center you have the lunatics/evil core. They’ll fire teachers, lower their pay, shrink universities, and donate trillions to the banks. Is that sane?

    Our society has lost its sanity. At the extreme it looks as lunatic and as evil as Gingrich; the other side seems more subdued but is as evil.

    It is probably a stage in the evolution of affluent societies. The EU seems as insane as we are.


  3. What I can’t understand is how the audience managed not to tar and feather that immoral scamp or strip him naked and throw him in the Charles. Boston crowds have really gone downhill in the past 250 years.


  4. I have been thinking of “Kill the Poor” as the Republican theme song for this whole election cycle and am, in fact, waiting for a YouTube mashup that would make this connection more explicit.

    Tell the truth: didn’t your head explode when Newt explained that he had made $1.5 million or whatever “as a historian” instead of as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac?


  5. Dr. J.: maybe things have slipped, or maybe (as Dr. Koshary says) they give everything he says the high-functioning lunatic discount. I was there at the Kennedy School (as a lecture attendee, not as a student) back in ’95 or ’96 when Robert McNamara promoting his memoir & was challenged by some angry Vietnam Vets, and he completely lost it–lost his temper, was screaming and shouting, etc. But at least the Kennedy School crowd 15 years ago or so talked right back to McNamara!


  6. Whom the gods would destroy, is all I can say. I’d package this one with a bill to decriminalize shoplifting and send it to the Senate Small Business Committee and see what they can do at mark-up…


  7. Well, you can tell how long he’s been out of the classroom because he things it would be just fine for the students to work 20 hours a week.

    When I saw this, I just gulped.


  8. But Newt will offer free online courses while President! Cause he’s a historian, ya know. Maybe the kiddies can watch him while they scrub the toilets, and then they won’t even have to bother with going to actual classes!


  9. If you kill the poor, who will do Newt’s laundry? Mow his yard? Sweep his streets? Wouldn’t it be easier – and cheaper – to just breed such workers on a pig-farm model? That way is ever so much easier for Newt & Co. And wow, could we save money! One doesn’t need educated poor, one needs subservient poor.

    That Newt & Co are the leading stories on the news is an indicator of just how uncritical the American public has become. Entertainment is far more important than substance.


  10. Susan: “Well, you can tell how long he’s been out of the classroom because he things it would be just fine for the students to work 20 hours a week.”


    And Belle: we have the technology these days. The Republicans just have to remember to call clones “snow babies” (or whatever the term is) and we’re all set to start producing Bokhanovsky Twins.


  11. The absolute grossest part of that article is where Mr. Gingrich claims that the process of scrubbing toilets will be the catalyst for poor children of color to “begin the process of rising.” I think I threw up in my mouth when I read that. It’s breath-taking how clear he is that exploitative child labor will improve the moral character of the poor.


  12. I tend to think that middle-class children, at least, would benefit from scrubbing a few more toilets (and performing other chores that benefit their families) and playing a bit less soccer, and wouldn’t even mind seeing that extended, in a small way, to the schools (we used to have jobs like clapping erasers, tidying book corners, and emptying the trash, all of which seem reasonable to me, though I suppose clapping erasers would now be out on several grounds). It’s basic training in contributing the common good of a community of which one is a part.

    But that’s not what Newt has in mind at all; instead, as others have pointed out, he’s targeting those who are most likely to already have some experience with contributing to the general welfare, at least of their own families (if nothing else, poor children are more likely to have babysat younger relatives, fed themselves, taken on paying jobs relatively early in life, etc., etc.). Also — it’s pretty clear that Newt was not the primary caregiver for his own children, or the primary homemaker in his own home(s). If he had been, he’d know that it’s often more work to get a child to do something than to do it yourself, and that therefore you insist on the child doing it in order to drive home the principles mentioned above, and to give the child a chance at experiencing mastery, competence, and justified self-esteem, not for the sake of getting the job done.


  13. Can’t you see it.. the poor kids staying after school hours to clean up after the rich kids. As if class distinction isn’t already hard enough to deal with in K-12.


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