The Party of “Family Values” Sees No Irony in Axing Child Labor Protections

The New York Times’s current exposé on little one labor in america wasn’t about what is likely to be known as “little one labor lite”: examples, say, of youngsters working in sweet shops, logging lengthy hours as babysitters, or getting up early to do paper-delivery rounds. As a substitute, it was about actually Dickensian situations: kids, a lot of whom had been unaccompanied migrants, getting mangled whereas working in a single day shifts in meat-packing vegetation; kids working lengthy hours on building websites; kids working into the wee hours in food-processing services; kids getting chemically burned after working in a single day shifts as janitors. These children had been, plain and easy, being labor-trafficked.

It was a type of items of investigative writing so painful in what it mentioned about our society, so gripping in its narrative of exploitation, that after I completed studying, I believed, certainly politicians shall be pressured to motion — a lot as they had been after Upton Sinclair’s detailing of labor situations in Chicago meat-packing factories greater than a century in the past.

I used to be proper that politicians would certainly be goaded into motion; I used to be fallacious, nevertheless, as to what motion they might take. Removed from shoring up protections in opposition to the exploitation of kids by multinational firms, by short-term employment businesses and by the “guardians” who, like Dickensian villains of yesteryear, ship their wards out to work, GOP politicians took it as a chance to weaken little one labor legal guidelines.

Arkansas, underneath Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, led the stampede. Every week after the Occasions article was revealed, the governor signed legislation eliminating the requirement for age-verification for under-16s before they can take a job. The invoice, HB1410, was marketed by Sanders and her supporters because the “Youth Hiring Act of 2023.” It will, the invoice’s language says, “Restore decision-making to folks regarding their kids.” Translation: If Mother and Pop demand a child goes to work an eight-hour shift after faculty every day, who’re we as most people to say that’s not factor? And if that child by no means graduates highschool, or is condemned to continual sickness or finally ends up acutely injured due to the job, who’s the state to say that that was in all probability a poor household resolution?

In the meantime, legislators in Iowa are pushing laws permitting children as younger as 14 to work within the regularly harmful atmosphere of meat-packing vegetation. They’re additionally getting ready to defend companies from civil legal responsibility if kids then find yourself sick, injured or killed on the job.

In Minnesota, a GOP legislator has proposed a invoice that, if it passes, would enable 16-year-olds to work grueling building web site jobs.

The Republican Social gathering is embracing insurance policies that will take U.S. labor protections again to the early twentieth century.

In different states, together with Ohio and Wisconsin, GOP legislators are floating payments that will lengthen the variety of hours teenagers can work every week whereas faculty is in session.

Cumulatively, the Republican Social gathering is embracing insurance policies that will take U.S. labor protections again to the early twentieth century. Not that this needs to be any shock. The GOP, which, absurdly, nonetheless fashions itself because the social gathering of fine old school household values, because the pro-life and pro-child social gathering, repeatedly embraces insurance policies that damage kids, particularly those that belong to low-income households.

That is the social gathering that spent years combating the Reasonably priced Care Act, after which, as soon as that horse proved to be too useless to beat anymore, in opposition to expansions of the Reasonably priced Care Act. In Mississippi, the place legislators have constantly refused to increase Medicaid, in addition to in Georgia, greater than 6 p.c of youngsters don’t have any entry to well being care. In Florida, the quantity is 7.3 p.c. That’s fairly appalling, however not practically as scandalous as Texas, the place practically 12 p.c of kids are uninsured. This is similar state that’s ostensibly so “pro-life” that it now permits bounty-hunting anti-abortion activists to sue anybody who aids and abets somebody in securing an abortion.

Distinction that with California, which has put billions of {dollars} into increasing well being care entry; regardless of a big undocumented inhabitants (who exist largely exterior of federal security web applications), solely 3.5 p.c of youngsters are uninsured there, and that quantity is on a downward trajectory. In New York, the quantity is 2.6 p.c.

Twelve years in the past, the Tea Party-dominated House GOP proposed sweeping cuts to the federal WIC program that will have resulted in as many as 450,000 low-income moms and kids being refused primary dietary help. Extra not too long ago, the Trumpist GOP also proposed hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts to WIC. In the identical Trump years, the social gathering embraced proposals to dramatically scale back the food stamp program, and impose work necessities, which, had they been applied, would have had the impact of throwing thousands and thousands of households into starvation.

How solely miserable, and but how solely predictable, that the GOP, the self-styled social gathering of household values, is throwing in its lot with little one labor exploiters.

Within the present spherical of “negotiations” over the debt-ceiling — learn: the present GOP efforts to carry the nation’s good-credit hostage to their excessive political agenda — Republicans are proposing such large reductions in social security web expenditures that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently estimated they could result in more than 10 million people losing their food stamps.

After which there’s the perennial challenge of weapons. In 2022, in line with information compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, greater than 6,000 children and teenagers were either killed or injured in shootings in the U.S. The GOP’s response? Ideas and prayers, and, on the similar time, a campaign to remove what few gun management legal guidelines are on the books and to make it ever simpler for folks to purchase and stockpile weapons of struggle. One can see that gun violence is higher than the national average in Republican-governed states — locations the place there was essentially the most concerted effort lately to remove any and all gun management laws.

So, to return to the topic at hand: little one labor. How solely miserable, and but how solely predictable, that the GOP, the self-styled social gathering of household values, is throwing in its lot with little one labor exploiters. In any case, it’s spent years making an attempt to enact insurance policies that will make poor children hungrier, sicker, extra more likely to die violent deaths, and fewer more likely to entry increased training and different establishments of social mobility. So why be shocked when Gov. Huckabee Sanders, with a straight face, tells her viewers that making it simpler for younger kids to be exploited by dad and mom, by guardians, and by companies, is definitely merely about eliminating onerous and out of date burdens on companies and restoring freedom to households too lengthy crushed by authorities laws?

With the trendy GOP, the time period “hypocrisy” appears grotesquely insufficient to the wants of the second in describing the unabashed political and moral malfeasance animating the coverage priorities of the “household values” social gathering.

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