"It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid," said the former House speaker Friday at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."
Newt Gingrich considers himself to be a "historian," which dictionary.com says means "an expert in history; authority on history." And history is, in turn, "the branch of knowledge dealing with past events."
Perhaps Gingrich really is an expert on past events, in that he knows that they happened, and even perhaps what happened. For example, he is likely aware of the horrific abuse of children in the past, before there were "truly stupid" laws governing how and when children could work. He is probably not so aware of widespread problems today of child slavery and abuse - 'cause it's not in the past and he is a historian.
But he also seems to be a blithering idiot. How else to explain his belief that you could pay some really poor children in a school to clean up after the other, better-off children, and that this would be a good thing (instill a work ethic, and so forth)? Was he ever a child? Perhaps his grasp of personal history is terribly weak. Children can be incredibly cruel beings.
How long would it take before some evil bullies started taking dumps right on the floors in the bathroom stalls? Or deliberately eating and then puking up lots of disgusting stuff? The children who took these jobs would become laughingstocks of the entire school, objects of scorn and abuse.
But, OK, suppose that wasn't the case. Suppose that all the children in the school are really nice to each other, and would never think of doing such awful things to one another?
Presumably the school has more than a handful of really poor children, anxious to put the janitor father of some other children out of work (thereby sending the whole family into poverty) so that they can work their way out of laziness and someday become a grown-up janitor (but not at a school).
Which of these deserving and desperate children get the jobs? How do you choose? Or perhaps you rotate the honor, so that the income (surely well below minimum wage, that job killer, right, Newt?) and lessons are spread across many young minds and bodies? But then the lesson will be diluted. They might only be able to pull themselves up by a quarter of a bootstrap, which might not be enough in the 21st century.
And so on.
We all had a great laugh at Herman Cain's expense when he couldn't come up with an answer to how he felt about Obama's actions in Libya. And that was pretty funny (and awful, too, when you consider that this man claims to want us to take him seriously as a possible finger on the button of nuclear destruction).
But why isn't Gingrich being similarly mocked and taken to task? He is supposed to be some sort of deep intellectual, fully informed about past events, ready to take on the future. And this is the best he can do? Offer up some half-assed, incredibly destructive, completely un-thought-out call to return to a past in which children were routinely abused and taken advantage of in order to increase profit margins?
Shame on you, Newt Gingrich.