Home / General / A Presidency for Those Looking to Revive Child Labor

A Presidency for Those Looking to Revive Child Labor



Color me shocked that Betsy DeVos also also funds organizations that openly advocate for child labor:

In addition to being a donor, DeVos has served on Acton’s Board of Directors for 10 years. The Institute is a non-profit research organization “dedicated to the study of free-market economics informed by religious faith and moral absolutes.”

In a recent blog post, an Acton Institute writer and project coordinator showed his dedication to something else: child labor.

The post’s author, Joseph Sunde, argues that work is a “gift” that we are denying American children. After all, Sunde concludes, the child laborers of America’s past were “actively building enterprises and cities” and “using their gifts to serve their communities.”

Some especially disturbing highlights from Sunde’s piece:

In our policy and governing institutions, what if we put power back in the hands of parents and kids, dismantling the range of excessive legal restrictions, minimum wage fixings, and regulations that lead our children to work less and work later?

Let us not just teach our children to play hard and study well, shuffling them through a long line of hobbies and electives and educational activities. A long day’s work and a load of sweat have plenty to teach as well.

You know who was taught a lot at a very young age? 10 year olds working and dying in West Virginia coal mines. They knew plenty of things. Like how to have no hope for their lives, how not to see the daylight for days on end, and how to go hungry. Those were the good days.

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  • N__B

    The only punishment I can think of adequate for scum like Sunde is to power schools’ electric needs by working a treadmill until he drops.

    • tsam


  • (((Malaclypse)))

    We’ve gone past both mundane villainy and cartoon supervillainy into some hitherto unknown category.

    • Derelict

      How long before they decide Jonathan Swift wrote a non-fiction how-to book?

  • Nobdy

    It’s interesting that despite wealthy people constantly extolling the benefits of this kind of labor, even for children, you rarely see a child of the rich doing an actual job. Oh they might do a couple hours a week at one of the company stores, doing light work under the watchful eye of a trusted supervisor who knows to treat the boss’s kid very carefully and never assign them anything too dangerous or strenuous, and of course as an older teenager they might take prestigious fun internships in glamor industries, but those are not the kinds of work being discussed here. Those are closer to after school activities.

    So why is it we never see a Trumpling or DeVoscion mixing concrete or setting dynamite charges or even stocking and sweeping supermarkets on the weekends?

    Hmm. Must just be some kind of oversight.


    • bizarroMike

      The children of the affluent will use their after school time studying, having college admission-friendly hobbies, or doing admission-friendly volunteering work. The children of the next lower order will have to work, and thus be worth less to the admissions office on the basis of pure merit. The rest of the children will be given an exciting opportunity to forgo education completely in favor of a lifetime of dangerous contingent work.

      I’m told I should support this vision because it is the most moral one, but maybe I misheard some of it. After all, the guy saying it was busy buggering irony’s corpse, and it was hard to hear him.

    • Solar System Wolf

      And for all the buzz about eliminating schools in favor of online education, you never see these folks doing anything other than sending their kids to elite private schools. It’s almost like they don’t see the value.

    • ColBatGuano

      Wait, Ivanka didn’t spend summers in a coal mine? Now my economic anxiety is through the roof!

  • rm

    I’m watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, and this is literally the argument made by one of the over-the-top moustache-twirling villians. No matter how they try to ham it up and break the fourth wall, the show keeps reflecting current conservatism without much actual exaggeration.

    The books, released in the Bush years, had scattered moments of incisive satire on conservatives under Bush. The show is like a nonstop commentary on Trump and his nihilistic arsonists.

    • JBC31187

      I remember those books. I thought they were trying too hard.

      • Nobdy

        What does that even mean in 2017? Trump is going to be president and the speaker of the house is dabbing after passing a bill to strip health care from millions.

        Satire has been lapped by reality.

        • guthrie

          Charlie Stross, well known SF author, is now wondering if the dystopian surveillance state oligarchy of the USA in 2020 in the new series of merchant prince books, will actually be too positive for the real america in 2020, and is wondering if he should make it a nastier place. The fictional one I mean.

          We keep suggesting he should write nice happy fluffy stories instead, since him doing so could help guide us towards a nicer future.

          • rea

            Well, he wrote a book featuring an insanely ambitious (female) home secretary plotting to become PM, and sure enough . . .

      • carolannie

        Aha! A great, scintillating review! I can’t wait for your review of The Black Cauldron, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, etc, which will fill us with insight and delight.

        • N__B

          The Lord of the Rings

          Much agita over returning a flawed ring to the jeweler.

        • (((Malaclypse)))

          Harry Potter

          Dolores Umbridge no longer caricature.

    • q-tip

      Interestingly, said villain also says “there’s nothing evil about free healthcare.”

      (Granted, said “healthcare” is a coupon for an eye exam.)

  • Derelict

    If only we had more dead children every year! Just think of all the benefits to society: Lots more grieving parents for Good Morning America to talk with, all kinds of emotional drivers for charities to cash in on, and certainly a nice reduction in the surplus population. And then there’s the big one: Everyone will save a shit-ton of money because we can get rid of most of the property taxes that currently fund the schools!

    We’re really missing out, my friends, if we don’t start kids working in mining and industry just as soon as they can wield a hammer or push a button on the drop-forge!

    • Bitter Scribe

      When the Iraq War was starting to go south and the wingnuts were bristling about the attention being paid to the escalating casualty list , the WSJ ran the stupidest op-ed I’ve ever seen on their pages, bar none. The guy (can’t remember his name and don’t care) basically argued that American kids these days have such a high survival rate that when one of them does die, their softie parents just grieve too much. Back in the good old days of high infant and child mortality, when lots of kids perished in farm and industrial accidents, the parents would just suck it up and create another one.

      That one never got the attention of “lucky duckies,” but I think it was even more odious.

  • runsinbackground

    “Never do business with a religious son of a bitch. His word ain’t worth a shit – not with the Good Lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.”

    -William S. Burroughs

    • q-tip

      Did I ever tell you about the man that taught his asshole to tweet?

  • Gone2Ground

    “A long day’s work and a load of sweat have plenty to teach as well.”

    Absolutely. Specifically, they typically teach the desirability of unions, higher pay, and safety regulations. Especially after you lose a few digits in the machines.

    The proper response to this sort of nonsense from wealthy people is, “You first.”

    Any answer from them on this would reveal their true intentions: either to actually be an overlord or their rank hypocrisy in excluding themselves and their children from their dictates.

    • Taters

      So, she’s a Maoist? Who knew. In any case, when the revolution comes, she’ll be the first to the labor camp.

  • dSmith

    My Grandfather was born in 1899. After he graduated from the 8th grade he started working 72 hr weeks in a paper mill. His job was to lie in a little space over the paper as it was rolled out and cut it by lowering a knife . The rolls were marked to be cut at certain lengths. Lying motionless like that he would fall asleep so his sister would accompany him to work and poke him with a stick to keep him awake.

    • MPAVictoria

      Can you smell the freedom?

      • Rob in CT

        As a liberal, obviously I cannot smell freedom. But I’m sure it smells like coal.

      • Cheerfull

        And I just don’t care what happens next
        looks like freedom but it feels like death
        it’s something in between, I guess
        it’s CLOSING TIME

  • veleda_k

    “free-market economics informed by religious faith and moral absolutes.”

    I want to punch their faces in already.

    I’ll start taking DeVos seriously once she’s worked in coal mine for sub-minimum wage for a few years.

    • MPAVictoria

      Yeah this is the kind of thing that happens when political discourse is controlled by rich people. A poor person who actually had to do these things would never be so stupid as to write that sentence.

      • Gone2Ground

        Agree with both of you.

      • efgoldman

        A poor person who actually had to do these things would never be so stupid as to write that sentence.

        There’s a certain congressman from Wisconsin who’s *whole life* has been supported by government handouts (SS survivor’s benefits, educational benefits, a series of jobs on the government payrolls….) who is now leading the charge to pull up the FYIGM ladder.

        • ColBatGuano

          But he was never actually poor during all that.

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            Just temporarily embarrassed.

    • Derelict

      “Moral absolutes.” I wonder what those might be? Apparently the “religious faith” that informs her “moral absolutes” says it’s a-okay to exploit children. If only God has said something about oppressing the widow or orphan. Or maybe if Jesus had said something about children–although I guess she thinks “suffer the little children” means “make them suffer horribly.”

      • Area Man

        The kind of moral absolutes that get them to support an areligious lying adulterous prideful sex abusing bigoted thief because he tells them he’s on their side.

    • rea

      Note that Amway Independent Business Owners, as they are now called, must be over 18 years old:


      • Abbey Bartlet

        Well sure, but that’s just because of Democrat regulations!

    • David Allan Poe

      I’d even be okay with it if she worked in a coal mine for regular, modern coal mining wages for a couple months.

      The world’s different on the production side.

  • AMK

    Somebody please tell the Dems to bring this up at the confirmation hearing.

    • LosGatosCA

      It’s pretty sad to think they might not.

    • Phil Perspective

      This is all a Bernie Sanders plot to make Cory Booker look bad I tell you!

  • Gone2Ground

    Hilariously, the author of the original piece this disclaimer due to unprecedented backlash:


    “UPDATE: Given the recent attention drawn to this post, permit me to clarify that I do NOT endorse replacing education with paid labor, nor do I support sending our children back into the coal mines or other high-risk jobs, nor do I support getting rid of mandatory education at elementary and middle-school ages. Due to the confusion it brought, I have removed “bring back child labor” from the title, as many falsely took it to mean a call to “bring back” earlier laws, conditions, or jobs, which is not my argument. My recommendation here is simply that we challenge our cultural assumptions about labor at all levels, from parenting to education to policymaking, and ensure we take a more holistic approach to education that recognizes the dignity of each human person.”

    But don’t worry, it’s still full of ridiculous nonsense about how the kids today are too pampered and we really should consider allowing 14 year olds to work a few hours a week so they can learn something at their fast food jobs. Do these people not understand that many people in the service industry need those jobs and opening them up to even younger teenagers will only exacerbate poverty, including child poverty – you know, like child labor does everywhere in the world?

    Oh, I’m sure they don’t know that, or choose to ignore it so they can preach about how we need to “disciple our children toward a full understanding of the role of their work in honoring God and serving neighbor”.

    I thought that’s what church and service organizations were for, not working. Which is for making money. And in the New Gilded Age, making money for already fantastically wealthy people.

    • trollhattan

      Jesus, these people. I’ll be happy to drag his butt to my kid’s urban high school where far over half the 2500 kids qualify for subsidized lunches (moochers!). Would nevertheless ascertain the pampering penetration ratio is very high based on now many smartphones and fancy sneakers are in evidence.

      Off to work with you–arbeit macht frei, the Godwinning.

      • so-in-so

        I vote for smuggling his drugged ass, sans passport, to a Malaysian fishing fleet. Make a few bucks and let him REALLY understand what he is talking about.

    • In a few years the Burger-matic 5000 robots will be on line and we won’t even have those shitty fast food jobs.

      But hey, progress!

    • Linnaeus

      Due to the confusion it brought, I have removed “bring back child labor” from the title, as many falsely took it to mean a call to “bring back” earlier laws, conditions, or jobs, which is not my argument.

      If it’s not his argument, then why the hell is he praising child labor of the past?

    • ColBatGuano

      Do these people not understand that many people in the service industry need those jobs and opening them up to even younger teenagers will only exacerbate poverty

      Feature, not bug.

    • Donalbain

      “nor do I support getting rid of mandatory education at elementary and middle-school ages”

      That’s a suspiciously specific denial.

      • Brad Nailer

        Which conspicuously leaves out a certain higher tier of education.

  • efgoldman

    I suppose if we thought about it, we’d all recognize that there are objectively evil, nasty, despicable, amoral people in the world, But our whole government made up of/run by them? Not in our worst nightmares.

  • And here I thought we were about to build a wall because we have too many workers.

    • LosGatosCA

      Ok – I can see you’re not with the program.

      #1 – the children put to work will be white born to parents that God does not favor only.

      #2 – the children will have the full capability to negotiate their own wages on the basis of the free market’s evaluation of their marginal product as determined by billionaires that will no longer be required to pay taxes to support education,etc.

      #3 – Children who shirk from their free market job responsibilities to make the 1% richer – for such frivolity as going to school will be punished by the invisible hand also known as the racial profiling class warriors known as the police who will be supplemented by Jay Goukd’ Christian soldiers.

      #4 – black/brown children who are not at work will be – depending on the nature of their felonious incivilty will be shot or incarcerated and their parents shot or incarcerated for their negligence in having children that arevinsufficientl worshipful of the opportunity to work for slave wages well below the anti-capitalistic minikuk wage.

      #5 – the excess workers from the brown states are only necessary because too many children have not been sufficiently informed ncented with tax breaks and hamstrung by regulations like child labor laws.

      The wall, the freedom the markets; white supremacy, and class warfare are the synergies to MAGA.

      • vic rattlehead

        minkuk wage

        I actually love this typo the more I think about it. What will cuckservatives and libcucks (and cucklennials of course) be paid in our new right wing dystopia? The minicuck wage.

        • LosGatosCA

          Sorry for the typo filled post.

          On my phone, on the plane as it was pulling away from the gate at DTW 7 hours ago.

          Now back home in the Los Gatos area.

  • RPorrofatto

    If you think Sunde’s piece is nuts, the original he quotes from is positively insane. The opening:

    The Washington Post ran a beautiful photo montage of children at work from 100 years ago. I get it. It’s not supposed to be beautiful. It’s supposed to be horrifying. I’m looking at these kids. They are scruffy, dirty, and tired. No question.

    But I also think about their inner lives. They are working in the adult world, surrounded by cool bustling things and new technology. They are on the streets, in the factories, in the mines, with adults and with peers, learning and doing. They are being valued for what they do, which is to say being valued as people. They are earning money.

    Whatever else you want to say about this, it’s an exciting life.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      This is literally unbelievable. Like, I cannot believe someone typed that with a straight face.

      • mathguy

        Well, given the face in the author’s photo, it seems completely plausible. His bio is also entertaining. I like the fact that he has published “thousands of articles!”

        • rea

          he has published “thousands of articles!”

          consisting almost exclusively of “a,” “an,” and “the.”

          • rachelmap

            And sometimes “some” and ∅.

    • efgoldman

      Whatever else you want to say about this, it’s an exciting life.

      So was running away from sabre-tooth tigers, or being killed or enslaved by rival tribes, or hoping your family was the one not wiped out by plague or smallpox…..

      • rea

        Well, they are anti-vax, too.

      • Brad Nailer

        “It’s an exciting life” says Mr. Bow-tie, who’s never had to live it.

    • DrS

      Holy crap. I didn’t think anyone could lower my opinion of bow tied conservative dipshits. Big congrats to Jeffery A Tucker for bringing the heat.

    • guthrie

      So the only value poeple have is what work they do. That does rather throw out of the window the last 2,500 years of great white western men canon of literature and suchlike, but hey, you’ve got the make some sacrifices.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        It’s a surprisingly Marxist philosophy from supposed conservatives…

    • ColBatGuano

      I hovered over the link hoping to see The Onion. No such luck.

    • veleda_k


      I mean, there’s so much wrong with just that paragraph that we could be here for hours, but even just one sentence, “It’s an exciting life.” Partly, as efgoldman points out, exciting is not necessarily a good thing, but very often child labor was not in the least exciting. It was very often drudgery. Factory work with no safety standards, chimney sweeping, these things do not lead to rich inner lives while on the job. I can’t believe I even have to say this to anyone.

      (I was really hoping the comments would be at least a little horrified, but I was far too naive. Maybe there was some push back, but I noped out after just a glance.)

    • Souris Grise

      I read both the Sunde and Tucker pieces. And Tucker, after fantabulo-izing hell’s special kid camp features, all inclusive, hits his truth. A person’s value arises only and directly from the ability to earn money.

      When the BBC recently ran a story on child refugees in Turkey working long hours in closets of industry, about 50 percent of the commenters approved, based on reasoning similar to Tucker’s. Although some of them had suffered the same exploitation as children that they recommended as “good youth training.” Meaning certain harms done can never ever be undone and what’s Betsy DeVos’ excuse?

      And the rage this all fuels terrifies me, too. Who am I becoming that a collapsible guillotine with washable carrying case increasingly seems this season’s must-have accessory?

      • so-in-so

        “And the rage this all fuels terrifies me, too. Who am I becoming that a collapsible guillotine with washable carrying case increasingly seems this season’s must-have accessory?”

        Large caliber but easily concealed firearms will become increasingly available and are far more practical in our NRA sponsored future. I’m not sure how they plan to keep arms away from “liberals”, maybe you will need to where a MAGA hat to qualify for purchase.

      • Origami Isopod

        Who am I becoming that a collapsible guillotine with washable carrying case increasingly seems this season’s must-have accessory?

        To be honest I wonder about people who aren’t getting that angry by now.

    • David Allan Poe

      Can’t wait for his next article about some banjo-picking slaves taking a well-earned break after a day engaging in some healthy labor in the fields, entitled “Sing, You Happy Negroes!”

  • Their real political problem will be in bringing back the pit ponies (see photo).

  • ColBatGuano

    The quote and the picture remind me of my thought during the campaign: “When did being a coal miner become a great job everyone in WVa wanted their kids to get into?”

  • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

    Just a re-run of Newt’s proposal to have inner city kids working as janitors in their schools so they’d “learn the value of work”, said values of course not existing among poor people who are all lazy welfare moochers.

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