Saturday, June 30, 2012

Child Labor

A fourteen year old boy goes to the grocery store to ask for a job. He is turned away, told that hiring him is against the law. He’s not seeking full time employment; he’s seeking to bag groceries for a few hours on the weekend. He is not allowed to because the law, which knows better, tells him he is not yet ready to work for income. The only income allowable to people his age comes from chores, or sometimes lawn mowing or babysitting.

Mention allowing that child to get a job, and the response is horror stories about factories and coal mines. It is a temporal fallacy because while that was once the case it is not the case today. Allowing people under the age of sixteen to seek employment will not result in children being taken out of schools and locked in dangerous factories.

It is not as if there are no exceptions to child labor laws. Minors are employable on family businesses and in artistic pursuits. Allegedly these are different because of parental involvement, which would mean that those in favor of child labor laws believe that parents would abuse their children if given any other labor option for their children.

There are jobs today that are just as safe for a person of fourteen years as they are for a person of sixteen years. Those jobs involve asking "paper or plastic" or "would you like fries with that." Those jobs are there as entry level positions that enable a person to learn how to hold down a job. Some people even go so far as to suggest that those jobs are created specifically for teenagers to soak up some surplus labor.

Given that conditions have changed much since the days of the coal mines and the locked factories, it is clearly time to stop thinking of those times as a basis for restricting child labor, and allowing those who wish to succeed a chance to do so.

1 comment:

John0 Juanderlust said...

I would not even set a minimum age. In some circumstances a nine year old is ready willing and able to earn money.