Last week Newt Gingrich floated a ludicrous plan to fire union janitors at schools (putting them on the unemployment rolls and devastating their families) and replacing them with school children. The brilliance of this plan is that, while impoverishing the families of the once gainfully employed janitors, it would simultaneously burden kids with responsibilities that would distract them from their studies. And of course the children of folks in Gingrich’s class would have no such impediments to their education.
Not content with declaring child labor laws “truly stupid,” this week Gingrich compounded his absurdity and insensitivity by insulting the children that he hopes to put to work scrubbing toilets.
“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed.
“They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it is illegal,” he added.
This is the current front-runner for the Republican nomination for president saying that the children of the working poor have only lazy or criminal influences in their lives. Their parents are either bums or crooks.
Obviously Gingrich has never set foot in a poor neighborhood. Had he done so he would have met people who not only show up for work, they do it at multiple jobs. Gingrich has no concept of what it means to struggle to provide for his family. He makes $60,000 to give a half hour speech, yet he maligns poor people as having “no habit of staying all day.” And he spent decades in Congress where they almost never show up on Monday (or Friday either) and take several weeks off every year.
To insinuate that poor families who earn money do so only through illegal activities is not only wrong, it belies a measure of hypocrisy that is monumental. Remember, it was Gingrich who was cast out of Congress in disgrace after having been reprimanded for misusing tax-exempt funds and being fined $300,000. Someone as ethically challenged as Gingrich has no business maligning the integrity of others. Particularly those about whom he has absolutely no knowledge.