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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.


Friday, December 2, 2011 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts |


  1. What’s the big deal? I have been saying this for DECADES! Neither Newt nor I are talking about EVERY poor kid in America, just the vast majority of them.

    If someone here in this or any other blog can direct me to some information that gives PROOF that Newt and I are wrong, I’d love to see it.

    Comment by Steven Lemon | Friday, December 2, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Steven Lemon,

      But you’ll swear up and down Jesse Jackson said that every black people who votes conservative is against the black community. I guess the possibility of hypocrisy just doesn’t really occur to you.

      Okay, what poor kids was Mr. Gingrich talking about? What poor neighborhood was he talking about that’s void of people with good work ethics? What poor neighborhood was he referring to where people feel the only way to earn a living is through criminal activity? Maybe if we could narrow the scope of his rhetoric we would have a more clear idea of what he, and you, is talking about.

      Maybe if you could provide proof that he, and you, is correct we wouldn’t be so put off by the negative stereotype against the poor. I for one would love to see that.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, December 2, 2011 | Reply

  2. Wait a minute…. Are people here suggesting that only people from decent and well to do neighborhoods work all those service sector jobs that pay minimum wage or a little better? Here where I live, which is in the suburbs of the Des Moines metro area, is still a poor neighborhood…. and yet I see people up in the morning looking like they are going to work. Must be a well played ruse before they go to the soup kitchens and welfare lines or off to the early morning drug dealer specials (I hear they did well on Black Friday!). I didn’t realize how ignorant I was!

    Seriously now… I know a lot of people with a serious work ethic who are poor and live in very poor neighborhoods. They often work far harder and for much longer of a time than a lot of those people who are making pretty good bank. They don’t delgate their work off to other people or make excuses as to why they aren’t rich. They get up and they go to work, taking pride in what they do, which sometimes is merely the fact that they work and take responsibility for themselves and their family. They send their kids to school everyday, and encourage them to reach for their goals. They don’t avoid working while holding out for a mid or upper level management job. They take what’s out there and are happy to have something, even if its being a “lowly” janitor because its money to pay the bills. And maybe in the process they encourage their kids to go to school and make something better out of their lives by the example of their own work ethic and sense of responsibility.

    While I may be conservative leaning, people like Steven, who buy some ideology word for word, just show me the world is full of people who don’t even understand the whole of real life.

    Comment by mikelovell | Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Reply

    • MOOKIE!!!

      Thanks for that feedback! The misses and I were thinking about our old neighborhood. Every morning, just about everybody around us was off to work or to school. One of our neighbors, an old man in his seventies and long since retired from his job, did handyman work for people all around the neighborhood from the back of his old van. There were a handful of people who didn’t work. There was one house that dealt in drugs. But everybody did their best to call the police to get those people out of our area. We tried not to tolerate that crap. But the police could only do so much. They knew the problem but for some reason that was beyond us, the drug dealers went untouched. Until one day when they were just gone. The only people that didn’t go somewhere everyday were the two old ladies on the block that were long since retired. One was a school teacher and the other was a nurse. The neighborhood was one of the poorest in the St. Louis area. And everybody worked. So when people say, and defend the talk, that people in poor neighborhoods don’t have work ethics, I take exception to such baseless rhetoric. Anyone who defends such talk is just being an ignorant dumb-ass. But nobody can prove I’m talking about every single one of these people.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Sunday, December 4, 2011 | Reply

    • Beautifully written, mike. Good to actually hear some moderation from a conservative dude. That Repuclican field (except Huntsman) is kinda scaring me.

      Comment by Carlton | Monday, December 12, 2011 | Reply

  3. Mr. Gingrich has politely forgotten about the overt and covert policies created in the 80s by the Reagan Administration to ensure that “poor people” are segregated from everyone because of their status. Mr. Gingrich must have also forgotten that he played a role in implementing these policies. However, back then the administration referred to poor people as black people and their policies were based on the concept that black people were lazy and didn’t want to work. Twenty years later we are still dealing with this ignorance.

    Comment by Michelle Vivanz | Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Michelle Vivanz,

      But there’s nothing “polite” about Mr. Gingrich.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Sunday, December 4, 2011 | Reply

  4. This is an example of racism at its ignorant zenith. This bastard has the audacity to heathenize black people when the reason that black people are in the pitiable state of shiftlessness is because of slavery and the psychology of slavery. How dare he make the claim that we only have a criminal work ethic when the most criminal acts throughout history have been perpetrated by people that look like him. The more insurgent concern about us in relation to work and self efficacy is why we are systematically in poor communities in the first place. He needs to be addressing why the constitution once viewed us as inferior and thus the country has done everything in its power to disenfranchise us to make us dependant on social assistance. When the Republican party was formed, it was pro the disenfrachisement of black people so stating that poor people have nobody around them that works, if it were true, would only be a manifestation of the governments diabolical mendacity at work. When King began to concur with Malcolm and did a tour of the north, he stated that economic slavery is worse than physical slavery, so in essence this country just replaced one form of bondage with another to keep black people from becoming capitalistic equals. Perhaps this imbicle has never been to a poor neighborhood, growing up in one, my main impetus for success was seeing how hard poor people had to work to make ends meet when on the opposite side of the spectrum, wealthy white people had money from the backs of slaves and had to work very little to maintain elitism. Just look at television, the people you see that work the least are heirs and heiresses from white families who’s money traces back to a colonial plantation house. When you watch sports, there is always some old wrinkled, haughty white man in the owner’s suite whose money also traces back to slavery. The most famous white actors in Hollywood are from families who moved there in 1914 because accrued money from the institution of captivity and sought a new venture. It is black people who have worked so hard within poverty and have came up with cliches like, “trying to keep up with the joneses, robbing peter to pay paul, trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents.” Its white people who have been nickel slick by cheating the ethics of the economic structure to stay rich while keeping black people poor, and common people from being the wiser.

    Comment by giftnappyabyss | Monday, December 5, 2011 | Reply

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