Newt Flash: End Child Labor Laws, Privatize Social Security

Newt Gingrich has pitched himself as an ideas man, and as his presidential campaign accelerates, so does the rate of the generation of his ideas.

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Newt Gingrich has pitched himself as an ideas man, and as his presidential campaign accelerates, so does the rate of the generation of his ideas. Over the weekend, Gingrich proposed several new policies that would remake our society: ending child labor laws, privatizing Social Security, helping America by encouraging the debt super committee's failure, refusing to obey an environmental law that's not legally binding. Newt Gingrich has some thoughts.

  • Privatize Social Security Gingrich told students in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday that younger people should be able to have private retirement accounts instead of paying into Social Security, the Associated Press' Philip Elliott reports. "This gives Americans ownership over their retirement and the opportunity to unleash the power of the market to enjoy prosperous retirements beyond their most optimistic expectations, while also wiping out all future liabilities in the Social Security system," Gingrich said. The idea raises two questions: What happens when the market shows its power to plunge like it did in 2008? And since current seniors' benefits are paid for by current workers, if workers start paying into a private plan, who will fund the old folks?
  • Make kids be janitors at their own schools to foster a sense of "pride." Picking up the garbage discarded by their classmates seems likely to foster something in poor kids, but pride probably isn't it. Nevertheless, Gingrich told Harvard's Kennedy School of Government Friday that child labor laws are "truly stupid," CNN's Kevin Liptak reports, because the laws -- not child labor itself -- entraps children. "It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in child laws which are truly stupid. Saying to people you shouldn't go to work before you're 14, 16," Gingrich said. "These schools should get rid of unionized janitors, have one master janitor, pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work; they'd have cash; they'd have pride in the schools. They'd begin the process of rising." Gingrich should consider combining this proposal with his idea in the 1990s to bring back orphanages. Children could learn where a strong work ethic will take you in a fair and meritocratic society by cleaning up after their keepers at their own orphanages. And to teach them about thrift, just wait till you find out what happens if they ask for more gruel. 
  • Super committee failure would be "good for America"  NBC News' Jo Ling Kent reports that in Nashua, New Hampshire Monday, Gingrich said he was cheering the debt panel's inability to come to an agreement, saying, "I think it's going to fail... And I think it should fail, because it's exactly wrong.”
  • "Repudiate" non-legally binding environmental plan Gingrich has been campaigning hard against Agenda 21, an initiative adopted by the U.N. in 1993 to encourage sustainable development, CNN's Jim Acosta explains. The mayor of South Miami, for example, has used Agenda 21's ideas to reduce traffic congestion, CNN reports. Gingrich acknowledged in Iowa that the plan he's campaigning against isn't even law, saying, "It is part of a treaty that has never been endorsed by the (U.S.) Senate and I don't think the federal government should be in the process of implementing something that the Senate has not approved." He's talking about it, he says, "Because it's being implemented at the local level." It's also something the Tea Party cares a lot about.
  • Have FedEx track immigrants Talking about immigration, NBC reports, Gingrich said, "FedEx and UPS track 24 million packages. They allow you to track them at no extra cost. The federal government cannot currently find a million people... FedEx and UPS can track packages while they're moving; the federal government can't find people when they're sitting still! My policy is send everybody a package." The crowd laughed, and we're pretty sure this was a joke. But you never know with Gingrich.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.