There was a time in the later part of the 19th century that children as young as 10 year old were allowed to work in the United States under the most strenuous circumstances.
It took the Great Depression to end child labor nationwide; adults had become so desperate for jobs that they would work for the same wage as children. In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which, among other things, placed limits on many forms of child labor.
So it just boggles my mind that the Republicans in Congress want to go back to the 1800’s.
Utah’s freshman Republican Congressman Mike Lee of Utah is under the belief that federal child labor laws are unconstitutional, and it really should be up to states to pass rules.
Lee’s reasoning was that labor and manufacturing are “by their very nature, local activities” and not “interstate commercial transactions.” He added, “This may sound harsh, but it was designed to be that way. It was designed to be a little bit harsh.”
To rephrase Ronald Reagan during his presidential debate with Walter Mondale in 1984, “Well, there you go again.” Making an argument on “states rights.” We had a war about “states rights”. Why is the GOP beating a dead horse?
Any judge will tell you that if a business is dealing with a company that is doing business nationally, that would be considered “interstate commerce” and is therefore, regulated by the federal government.
This proposal is just another example of the GOP’s contempt of laws governing responsibility.
Here’s a stat for you. The International Labor Organization estimates that 246 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 currently work (or about 15% of the world’s children, about 35% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa). Worldwide, more than 10 million children are employed in drug-trafficking, sex work, and other hazardous labor (source).
At the rate the Republicans seem to be going, the United States won’t be too far behind! You have to ask yourself, “Who would stand to benefit from a repeal of Child Labor Laws?” A more important question is, “Why are we in reverse? Is that what the ‘R’ in Republican stands for?”
What’s next for the Republicans? Repealing the 13th Amendment?