The Washington Post

We must protect the children by . . . rolling back child labor laws

“Arkansas Gov. Sanders signs law loosening child labor protection­s” — Washington Post headline

- negatively

Icare a great deal about the children. That is why I am proud to announce that we are rolling back child labor laws. We cannot sit by and let people who would squander our most precious resource, our children, by forcing them to waste time sitting in libraries and enjoying story hours, when they could be operating heavy machinery for low pay.

We must protect the children from the greatest threat they face: gun violence idleness. For too long, they have been coddled, giving nothing to society other than colds, items that are sticky for unclear reasons, and bad, nonreprese­ntative drawings that suggest their parents are the same height as their homes. No longer. Now, they will be given an opportunit­y long denied them: the opportunit­y to work hard, long, unregulate­d hours! As I have always said, we must stop trapping children in failing schools. Take them out of those schools and make them work for wages!

If there is one thing I know about children, it is that they love to operate machinery, and they would operate more if we did not keep stopping them. Yet, instead of harnessing their natural inclinatio­n toward electrical outlets, power tools and sharp objects generally, we waste all that potential — child-proofing our homes, covering the outlets and hiding the electric drills. What a loss for society! What a senseless waste of natural ability!

Give a child a model backhoe and she will clap her plump hands together with delight and cry, “Dada! Dada!” Well, how much more would the child enjoy operating an actual backhoe? THIS MUCH. (Imagine that I am holding my hands out very big.) Think of all the time children waste in fake kitchens, preparing plastic meals in nonfunctio­nal ovens, when they could be working on actual production lines, packaging real meat and processing real dairy! I am glad to see that some lucky newcomers already are! But we cannot stop with them. We must not rest until every child has the same opportunit­ies.

Every child sitting in a library — or having a book read to them by anyone, in drag or not — is a societal failure. I feel the same way about it as I feel when I see a book generally: enraged, and confused.

I care about the children, just as I care about our old-growth forests: They are a valuable resource that should be harvested for money. I am glad to see burgeoning bipartisan agreement on this point. Children have been spoiled for too long. It is time they worked — like everyone else.

This is why it so upsets me to see a child reading the Upton Sinclair classic “The Jungle.” One: a child is reading a book (dangerous, bad, why is child not working?) and two, the “Jungle” portrays children working in meat production.

How dare these children, with their small, nimble fingers, fritter away even a moment that they could be spending sweeping a chimney or, perhaps, working in a coal mine? If minors weren’t supposed to be mining, why is it right there in the name? There are only so many hours in the day, and every hour children spend in a library being exposed to ideas, or playing (even if they are playing at farming, a noble trade), or singing a little song to themselves just for fun, or making friends, or laughing because someone is wearing a silly hat, is an hour they will not be able to receive extremely low wages for doing a dangerous task. How sad. Our children are a valuable resource. We must protect them, at all costs.

What good is a nation that cannot protect its children?

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