Child Labor Day
There is no more settled principle than the virtue of the laborer. And no greater self-congratulation than we have ended child labor. So when we celebrate Labor Day we congratulate ourselves on the wonderful things we have done to protect working people from exploitation and oppression, and we also congratulate ourselves that our children no longer have to go out to work.
I'm all in favor of work, myself. But I want to remind you of the novelty of work as a Good Thing. Eric Hoffer in The Ordeal of Change:
In practically all civilizations that we know of... work was viewed as a curse, a mark of bondage, or, at best, a necessary evil.
But not to worry, our reactionary liberal friends are working hard to re-indict work. Did not Nancy Pelosi recently extol ObamaCare as a way for photographers and artists to quit their day jobs? In our society, it is only the responsible middle class that believes in work. The creative class and the underclass have already reverted back to the old ways.
Since our liberal masters are eager to look back to the past for inspiration let us join them and amaze the world with the idea that children should work.
First of all, let's be clear about one thing. We moderns only have a problem with children working for pay. It is nothing for us to send our children off to government child-custodial facilities for a 12-year stint starting at the tender age of six.
Now, it is some years since I was myself enrolled in a child-custody program, but the general impression I get is that government buses prowl the neighborhoods of American cities every morning, snatch millions of kids off the streets and drive them to a government facility where they are groomed to become liberals. After their daily grooming the kids come home and have to do homework.
You will remember that one of the glorious achievements of 19th-century reformers was to end the evil of the monstrous “putting-out” system and its home work for adults. But homework for modern children in the 21st century is A-OK.
Here's a brilliant new idea. If we are going to force kids to work, they should get paid for their labors, just like All-American adults.
I am not suggesting that kids should get paid for attending school, nothing so radical as that. I am suggesting that we allow them to get jobs. For pay.
But what about their education? Oh come on! We all know that the current government system sucks, for everyone except professional-class kids whose parents have the political skill to bend the system to their needs. Let's allow the rest of the kids to get out into the working world and do something useful.
Here's my Three Point Program: First, end compulsory schooling so schools can kick out disruptive bullies. Second, allow all kids over 12 to work for wages, same as adults. Third, reform the education system to let working kids come in to take courses to boost their skills at their convenience, not the system's convenience.
And don't worry, helicopter parents. You'll still be able to micromanage your children's education, breastfeeding through Ph.D.
But won't the little kiddies get horribly mistreated out in the world of greedy corporate sweatshops? Not necessarily. In the classic “Why Children Work” of 1913, Helen Todd found that children reported being better treated at work than at school. In New York City, that apparently hasn't changed.
Let's not give the current system a pass because of Our Teachers; government education has a shameful history. The French did it to counter the Jesuits; the Germans did it to raise up an army and a nation to conquer the French; the Bostonians did it to cure the Irish of their Catholicism; the Progressives did it to turn immigrants into good disciplined factory workers. Today's liberals want to raise up good little liberals to become “activists” for change in social justice magnet schools.
Here is a radical idea. In America, parents get to raise their children according to their own lights, and parents should have the right to tell the ruling class to take its latest plan to indoctrinate their children and go pound sand.
Yet the current system seems to be designed to make parents helpless and subservient, to force them to surrender their children up to government experts, because of the immense cost of opting out of the government system. And because socialization.
But an education culture of homeschooling, cooperative schooling, and a work-study for teenagers sharply reduces the cost of raising children, and allows parents to cast off the umbilical cord tethering them to the state.
I say bring back child labor.