Without additional commentary on the nature of the GOP presidential candidates, here is just one "idea" proposed by the current front runner Newt Gingrich whom some are calling the Newtron Bomb.
It's a fact, because he has told us so, that Republican primary candidate Newt Gingrich is first and foremost a historian, so it's no surprise when he buttresses his views with historical precedents. But in his recent plans for lifting poor children out of poverty, we were alarmed that he chose to follow the Dickensian model of child labor practices.
A few weeks ago, at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, he talked about his "extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America."
Calling child labor laws "truly stupid," he said that people who became successful in one generation "all started their first job between nine and 14 years of age." He proposed that schools in poor neighborhoods "get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school."
Where does one begin? Child labor laws exist to protect children from just such crackpot ideas. But then he went even further in a campaign speech in Iowa last week: "Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of 'I do this and you give me cash' unless it's illegal."
We could splutter all day at the offensiveness of these assertions, but our time is better spent in thanking Charles Blow, (link here) the visual Op-Ed columnist of the New York Times, who last Saturday used his gift for information graphics to present a column that succinctly demolished Gingrich's careless, cruel stereotypes, showing them to have no factual basis.
Blow presented an analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, which showed that three-quarters of poor adults ages 18 to 64 work - half of them full-time. Most poor children live in a household with at least one employed parent, and among children in extreme poverty, nearly one in three lives with at least one working parent.
And as for the most egregious, irresponsible claim - that poor children have no habit of performing tasks for money "unless it's illegal" - Blow wrote that Gingrich "vastly overreaches by suggesting that a lack of money universally correlates to a lack of morals."
Poverty is indeed a factor in crime increase, but Blow's data show that even though the number of Americans living in poverty has grown recently, the crime rate has dropped overall, specifically among juveniles.
But, given his historical leanings, we can at least be thankful that Gingrich has never been accused of modesty, so odds are that we'll be spared a revival of that famous "Modest Proposal," put forward by Jonathan Swift in 1729, "For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country."
More on the same from Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post.