AR Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders Psyched To Get The Government Out Of Child Labor Laws
Congratulations to Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who joins the ranks of so many Republican leaders in protecting children from burdensome regulations which prevent them from being chewed up by the rapacious maw of capitalism before they're old enough to drive a car. Priorities!
This morning Governor Nepo Baby, whose greatest claim to fame was two years of lying for Donald Trump, signed HB 1410, dubbed the "Youth Hiring Act of 2023." The Arkansas bill ditches the requirement that employers get a work permit for kids under 16, with the signature of a parent or guardian and a description of the work to be performed, i.e. a certification that the child is not being employed in a dangerous or exploitative capacity. So congrats to all the kids under 16 in Arkansas who are now free to work eight hours a day, six days a week, all year long. Because children are our most precious resource, and there's no time like the present to begin exploiting them.
Let us pause to note the clanging irony of Sanders congratulating herself on becoming the youngest governor in the country at the ripe old age of 40, and then immediately turning around and farming her state's children out for parts. It's particularly gross coming less than two weeks after the company Packers Sanitation Services Inc. agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine for employing children as young as 13 in meatpacking plants across eight states, including Arkansas. But Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn't get where she is in this life by being burdened with human emotions like, say, shame. Or, as her spokeswoman put it, “The governor believes protecting kids is most important, but doing so with arbitrary burdens on parents to get permission from the government for their child to get a job is burdensome and obsolete."
The legislative debate was no less gross. Senator Terry Rice lamented that kids today are turning into helpless snowflakes.
“They cannot function, they cannot communicate, they cannot do a lot of things that we did at 11 years old,” he said. “I don’t want them being abused, but at 14 and 15, if they want to work, that’s the best training they will get.”
Were you thinking that the "best training" for kids is school, i.e. their real job? Oh, you sweet summer child! And while we are glad to hear that Senator Rice doesn't "want them being abused," he seems willfully unconcerned that removing the requirement that parents sign off before their kids can work for 48 hours a week under God only knows what conditions might lead to that very thing he doesn't "want."
The bill's sponsor, Senator Clint Penzo, pointed to his own formative experience in his family's construction business.
“I worked all through school, and I think we need to see more of that in our society,” he insisted, while neglecting to mention how requiring a work permit would interfere with the character-building aspect of manual labor. He, too, failed to grapple with the fact that poor and immigrant kids are being farmed out as cheap labor across the country, not to build character, but to feed their families (and in some cases traffickers!) and subsidize remittances to send back home. Nor does he acknowledge that, in a tight labor market, child labor might drive down wages for adults, who aren't working as part of an exercise in moral improvement but are trying to raise their families out of poverty.
And so Arkansas joins the ranks of red states preparing for the rumored "national divorce" by sending the kids out to work for a little extra cash. Perhaps we should be grateful that the state hasn't copied Iowa's new bill, which explicitly immunizes employers from lawsuits if kids get sick or injured on the job. Although we note that Arkansas still exempts children 16 and older from all labor protections if "the boy or girl is married or is a parent."
Because in Real America, there's enough filth go around for everyone.
NY Times Exposé: Migrant Child Laborers Taking US Children's Dangerous Jobs
GREAT IDEA IOWA! Let Children Work Dangerous Jobs And Then Give Their Employers Civil Immunity!
Catch Liz Dye on Opening Arguments podcast.
Click the widget to keep your Wonkette ad-free and feisty. And if you're ordering from Amazon, use this link, because reasons.
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.