Newt Gingrich’s Take On The Poor Amongst Us
“Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits for 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.” – Newt Gingrich
Not too long ago, Newt Gingrich made the comment that he thought child labor laws were truly stupid and should be dropped. To support his contention, he gave an example that schools with kids from poor families should fire all but one member of the unionized janitorial staff and hire the students to work as assistant janitors cleaning bathrooms and mopping school floors. Recently, when asked why he would make such a statement, Mr. Gingrich tried to defend his suggestion by making a grotesquely unfair and seriously over generalized comment that poor kids live in areas where nobody works and therefore have no way to learn day to day work ethics nor do they have any way to learn to endeavor for pay unless it is something illegal.
This is just one of the latest examples of how some of our conservative politicians advocate asinine concepts about poor people and poor neighborhoods. In Mr. Gingrich’s own example he talks about firing janitors. Now, chances are the janitor isn’t raking in serious cash. More than likely people working as janitors are at the lower end of the school system’s pay scale. I’ll go out on a limb and say that a janitor is one of the lowest paid jobs in a school system, along with cafeteria workers and school bus drivers. These people aren’t living large on luxurious spreads out in the suburbs. I’m willing to bet that the janitors are actually people in poorer neighborhoods, who get up early every Monday that the school is intended to be open. So that talk about nobody in the poor neighborhood knows anything about working unless it’s something illegal is just more rhetorical bullshit.
But Mr. Gingrich wants to fire these people. He wants to actually increase the unemployment rate in the poor neighborhoods in order to teach children the importance of working for a living and the benefit of an honest day’s pay. Instead, the children in these poor neighborhoods will see just the opposite. People in the poor neighborhoods who witnessed firsthand all the janitors lose their jobs will actually learn that working for the man doesn’t mean shit. You go to work, you do your job, and some dumbass politician somewhere will fire you because nobody in a poor neighborhood works. You will fire the man or woman trying to support him or herself to teach children how to support their selves by giving them a job people like Mr. Gingrich obviously don’t appreciate.
I doubt if Mr. Gingrich has ever spent any time in a poor neighborhood. His ideas about the poor are built on a foundation of conjecture, stereotypes, ignorance, and totally false assumptions. He has already said that as President he will support firing the poor from their jobs and is open to the idea of adding children to the labor force. Let’s add poor kids on top of all the people already on the unemployed rolls. He’s ready to take it upon himself to teach poor children work ethics by potentially firing their parents or any poor adults in the child’s life. And then he wonders why the children from these poor neighborhoods don’t see the value in working for a living.
If a school had a problem trying to get people to work as janitors, I could understand opening the job up to children. But instead of hiring children to work mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms under some pretense that we are trying to teach work ethics, such chores should be assigned as punishment for breaking school rules. Children in schools already have jobs. Their job is to learn. They need to focus on that.
This comes from a man who is supposed to be appealing to the people of the country to become the next President of the United States. Anybody who works as a janitor should be concerned about this man’s thinking. Anybody who works in a job that has a stereotypical reputation as menial should be concerned about the conservative signals this man is sending. Janitors do more than just mop floors and clean bathrooms. They help keep our work environments safe and clean. They help monitor the condition of our school buildings. They perform minor repairs to keep our schools functioning properly. They keep maintenance records. And in their own way they teach our children the dignity of having a job and doing it well. They are not disposable and to be tossed simply because some politician thinks they are less than the rest of us.
This is just more evidence of the brainwashing that keeps many of us from putting our hopes in the conservative way of seeing the world. People like Mr. Gingrich, people who get paid seven figures to teach history and earn five figures just to give a heavily rhetoric laden speech, have no idea what happens in poor communities. This man has a serious disconnect with a large portion of the populace struggling with poverty or trying to stay out of poverty. Mr. Gingrich’s denunciation of poor people ranks right up there with Herman Cain’s suggestion that poor people should blame themselves for their lack of financial success.
And Mr. Gingrich’s comment that the only work ethic that matters in poor communities is one that is associated with illegal activity is totally without merit. The unemployment rate in the poor community is not 100%. Not everyone in the poor community is a criminal. It is grotesquely unfair for this man to label poor people this way. As President, he would be more than happy to lead the country down this path of class separation. Unfortunately, too many conservatives are attracted to that kind of talk. Hopefully, the majority of us will find his narrow mindedness disgusting.