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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Republican Senator Sez: Let's Ditch Child Labor Laws! (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Republican Senator Sez: Let's Ditch Child Labor Laws!
Foust
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Do we cry, or do we laugh?

But don't worry, she's got good reasons:

quote:
"My aim is to put back some common sense,'' Cunningham (left) said in an interview Monday. "We're not doing students any favor by telling them, 'You cannot work.'"
I've got to issue a mea culpa, I guess. For the last two years, I thought this groundswell of conservative populism was just good for a laugh; at worst, their policies (what tiny few they have) would collapse under their own idiotic weight.

This, however, this is different. I suspect this has the ability to create a new status quo; the only people that will be hurt by it are children, hardly a group with any real voice. The potential here to introduce 12 year olds to the joy of an 8 hour work day and have them get used to it could actually change views of upcoming generations.

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TomDavidson
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I am absolutely flabbergasted by this. It's stunning.
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BlackBlade
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It strikes me as something only somebody who really doesn't understand history would present for the legislature's consideration.

I doubt it will catch much support, but I haven't seen any coverage of it.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I hated child labor laws when I was young enough to be affected by them.
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Geraine
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Yeah it's stupid. If it is a family business you are allowed to work at a younger age, but having a middle school kid with a job? I don't think so.

I started working when I was 14, but it was only 3 hours a day 3 nights a week. That was pretty nice since it gave me a little extra spending money. Eight hour work days though? No.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I hated child labor laws when I was young enough to be affected by them.

What state(s) was this in Porter? What were the relevant laws?
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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
It strikes me as something only somebody who really doesn't understand history would present for the legislature's consideration.

I doubt it will catch much support, but I haven't seen any coverage of it.

Nevermind history, how about someone who doesn't understand the present? We've got the worst unemployment in decades and she wants to flood the market with cheap labor?

*Edited to correct gender.

[ March 11, 2011, 11:51 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
It strikes me as something only somebody who really doesn't understand history would present for the legislature's consideration.

I doubt it will catch much support, but I haven't seen any coverage of it.

Nevermind history. How about someone who doesn't understand the present. We've got the worst unemployment in decades and he wants to flood the market with cheap manual labor?
Heh, well there's that too. I wasn't really thinking about that.

edit: Oh and "she".

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Stephan
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Ditch? No. Change? Maybe.

Our education system places our students on a college bound track (except for some high schools that still have a tech track, but that seems to be fading). That is doing a disservice to our youth.

I might get slammed for saying this, but why should a student with an IQ of 50 be on the same college bound course schedule as everyone else? Teach the kid a skill he could actually use when he hits 18.

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King of Men
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Yeah, let the kids work. It's good for them; builds character and independence. Not everyone needs a college-track education, and a lot of people will be much happier and more productive if they aren't forced to get one. And anyway, who are you to say that someone ought not to be allowed to work?

As for flooding the market with cheap labour, let me ask this question: Would it be a good idea to solve the unemployment problem by extending child labour laws to cover, say, the age group 18 to 21? If not, why is it ok to solve them by prohibiting work at ages 14 to 18? (Or whatever it is.)

Teenage labour in the US is not going to look anything like sweatshops in China or child labour in Victorian Britain; the economy is totally different. Those kinds of jobs just plain don't exist, and wouldn't exist even if teenage labour was legal. The reality is paper routes (do these still exist?), fast food, and bagging groceries; not the best jobs in the world by any means, but hardly disasters from which our Poor Innocent Kids must be Protected At All Costs.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I hated child labor laws when I was young enough to be affected by them.

What state(s) was this in Porter? What were the relevant laws?
TX and OK.

Because of the child labor laws, I was utterly unable to get a part-time job until I was 16 years old.

In TX, I had been able to earn some money mowing neighborhood lawns, but when we moved to OK, that market was fully saturated.

I was broke, had plenty of free time, and wanted to work. But I was not allowed. I think I should have been allowed.

(By broke, I mean that I had no cash. My parents took care of the necessities, but gave me almost no spending money. If I wanted to, for example, go to the movie with friends, I had to come up with the money myself.)

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The reality is paper routes (do these still exist?), fast food, and bagging groceries; not the best jobs in the world by any means, but hardly disasters from which our Poor Innocent Kids must be Protected At All Costs.
Paper routes, fast food jobs, and bagging groceries are not jobs that existing child labor laws would prevent a child from holding.
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Darth_Mauve
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You are right. We need to train and teach our kids to be better, cheaper, less demanding but harder working laborers. If the corporate bosses are going to compete effectively in the world marketplace they can't have intelligent, educated, peons who want to make too much money. They need starving, brain-dead slaves who see the virtue of endless toil for the corporation as the goal.

We need to be more like the powerhouse of China, and if that means sacrificing all enjoyment from the short lives of our growing peon class, then that sacrifice must be made. If our country dreams of competing with China, we need to train and prepare our workers to work as hard and as cheaply and be as exploited as those in China.

And when China's wealth starts eating away at the poor standard of living of their poor, then we still have to fear the ghettos of Ethiopia, and even the starving Port Royale. If we can't compete with the poor of Haiti how can we expect to attract the jobs our country needs?

For too long have the overworked bosses been made to suffer with their limousines and mansions. Bankers and Billionaires have suffered long enough. What is the result? A MIDDLE Class. We don't need a MIDDLE class. We need a strong Upper Class and a vigorous working class. That's right, not a wishy, washy, middle of the road class, but a true hard Working Class. The only way to get them to work is through training, indoctrination, fear, and starvation. All of that needs to start with the children.

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Darth_Mauve
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On a more serious note--have you seen the people bagging groceries, delivering papers, and working at that fast food place? More and more of them are adults trying to earn a living instead of teens looking for some spending money.

Werenbergh Theaters was just fined big time for hiring underage employees. It was not because they had these "kids" working, but because they had these workers doing things like driving trucks, working with heavy machinery (those big projectors), and other dangerous jobs.

Several of you have said, "It won't be this or it won't be that." Removing all child labor laws will allow what ever this or that a company thinks will make it a profit.

You want to adjust the laws? You want to make some jobs fine for some kids? Great. Removing everything is like saying "We don't need that yield sign at that intersection, so lets get rid of all road signs."

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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
The reality is paper routes (do these still exist?), fast food, and bagging groceries; not the best jobs in the world by any means, but hardly disasters from which our Poor Innocent Kids must be Protected At All Costs.
Paper routes, fast food jobs, and bagging groceries are not jobs that existing child labor laws would prevent a child from holding.
So they're only prevented from having good jobs, then? Or what sort of jobs are we talking about, exactly?

Darth, way to build a straw man. Look, if you want to make an argument that children should be prevented from working for their own good, make it. But imagining Corporate Dystopia Number 3a will arise because people with no interest in scholarly pursuits drop out of high school to become plumbers does not make you look very rational.

Allowing kids to work is not the same as forcing them to do so. Now can we please calm down and have a rational discussion of what is in the best interests of society and of the kids in question?

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Paper routes, fast food jobs, and bagging groceries are not jobs that existing child labor laws would prevent a child from holding.
Not in my experience. I was prevented from holding fast food and bagging jobs because of child labor laws.

I tried. I applied, and was told that they were not allowed to hire anybody under 16 for anything.

(Paper routes were allowed, though. I tried getting one of those, and was on the waiting list for years. By he time I finally got one, I was over 16 and already had another job.)

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TomDavidson
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quote:
So they're only prevented from having good jobs, then? Or what sort of jobs are we talking about, exactly?
They're prevented from doing jobs with substantial health risks, long hours, and/or parental ignorance. They're protected from providing questionable services like "massages" and "maid service" in institutions which are uninspected by government workers aware that children are employed there. In some (but far from all) states, if their grades are poor enough, they will be denied permission to work until those grades improve.

The problem with child labor laws from the perspective of the child is that you aren't allowed to work late into the night or for too many hours on the weekend. In some states, these restrictions even apply when school isn't in session, which I agree doesn't make a lot of sense; it sounds from the article like Senator Green is interested in reforming this sort of thing, while Senator Cunningham seeks to do away with child protections altogether.

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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Darth_Mauve:
"We don't need that yield sign at that intersection, so lets get rid of all road signs."

Coincidentally I am reading rivka's recommended book Traffic, which has a section on getting rid of all road signs.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
The problem with child labor laws from the perspective of the child is that you aren't allowed to work late into the night or for too many hours on the weekend.
I wasn't allowed to work at all.
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dkw
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Either your state had more restrictive laws, or the businesses just decided they didn't want to deal with the hassle of under 16. 14 and 15 year olds can work with permission from their school, according to the law in question. (Which is the one part I would change -- it should be the parents' decision, not the schools'.)
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King of Men
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quote:
Werenbergh Theaters was just fined big time for hiring underage employees. It was not because they had these "kids" working, but because they had these workers doing things like driving trucks, working with heavy machinery (those big projectors), and other dangerous jobs.
Ok, and? Why should they not be given responsibility, if they can handle it? How do you imagine they will grow into responsible adults capable of doing those dangerous jobs, if not by trying them on? Whatever laws you have, there will always be some point where a new worker steps into the big truck for the first time. Do you have an argument for why 20 is a better age for that to happen than 16?

quote:
Several of you have said, "It won't be this or it won't be that." Removing all child labor laws will allow what ever this or that a company thinks will make it a profit.
And the kid thinks is a reasonable risk/reward tradeoff, and his parents are willing to let him work at, and other safety regulations allow. Can we please have some recognition that teenagers are not automatons who go wherever they are told, but have their own agency and dignity, just as people over 20 do?

I suggest that you are not doing anyone any favours by wrapping them in lambswool and preventing them from making their own judgements. And yes, some of those judgements will be bad; that's part of growing up and being an adult, too. We allow kids to find their own damnation when it comes to sex and relationships, which have the potential to be truly devastating; why not in jobs and education, which are much safer?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Do you have an argument for why 20 is a better age for that to happen than 16?
For one thing, children cannot legally enter into contracts of any sort until they are 18.
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Foust
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quote:
It's good for them; builds character and independence.
So do any number of activities that don't involve a history of vicious injustice. Sports, reading, music.

quote:
Not everyone needs a college-track education, and a lot of people will be much happier and more productive if they aren't forced to get one.
This is true. What are you suggesting? That we collectively shrug our shoulders when high school grades drop dramatically and we have a healthy workforce of plumbers that can't read anything more difficult than the local newspaper?

quote:
And anyway, who are you to say that someone ought not to be allowed to work?
While I respect the spirit of this question, I think it misunderstands the spirit of labor laws. They protect an easily exploitable class. They are less about restricting opportunities for young people and more about regulating the demands of employers.

quote:
Teenage labour in the US is not going to look anything like sweatshops in China or child labour in Victorian Britain; the economy is totally different.
True enough. So we're going to toss 14 year olds into a world in which their McDonald's manager can ask (in this context, read "force") them to stay until 1:00 on a school night? Yeah, screw their math homework, not everyone needs a college education.

Child labor laws - labor laws in general, really - were the result of long, hard battles against entrenched interests. The game of business hasn't changed, KoM - employers still seek maximum gain from minimum investment. I agree that if this law passes, all we'll see at first is kids working a few extra hours at McDonald's. But I would expect the drop out rate to increase. Yes, great for Dark Mauve's workforce, but not so great for society as a whole.

Employers broke their child labor toys a long time ago. It would be idiotic to give it back.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Yeah, let the kids work. It's good for them; builds character and independence. Not everyone needs a college-track education, and a lot of people will be much happier and more productive if they aren't forced to get one.

That seems to be an argument for technical schools not child labor law revision.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Do you have an argument for why 20 is a better age for that to happen than 16?
For one thing, children cannot legally enter into contracts of any sort until they are 18.
And yet we allow them to work (some) when they're 16.
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hef
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I remember Bush the elder's "training wage" proposal for workers under 18. The training wage would have been half the minimum wage. All of this done to encourage businesses to hire young people.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Ok, and? Why should they not be given responsibility, if they can handle it? How do you imagine they will grow into responsible adults capable of doing those dangerous jobs, if not by trying them on? Whatever laws you have, there will always be some point where a new worker steps into the big truck for the first time. Do you have an argument for why 20 is a better age for that to happen than 16?
Absolutely. The judgement centers of the brain are not fully developed in until ones early twenties. That means teenagers are considerably more likely to use poor judgement in the execution of a task, less likely to comprehend the consequences of their actions and therefore more likely to injure themselves and others. There are legitimate reasons why teenagers should be prohibited from operating heavy machinery and other potential dangerous jobs.
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King of Men
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quote:
This is true. What are you suggesting? That we collectively shrug our shoulders when high school grades drop dramatically and we have a healthy workforce of plumbers that can't read anything more difficult than the local newspaper?
In a word, yes.

Well, first a word on those grades. At the moment we are grading everyone on college-track skills: Abstract reasoning, math, lit'rary analysis, jumping through hoops. I suggest that not everyone is suited to this track, that those who aren't should not be forced into it, and that we would be much healthier and happier as a society if we didn't use the same mold on every child. Thus, my argument is rather that there should be a college and a vocational track in high schools, which by complete coincidence happens to be the arrangement in Norway, and that I expect grades to increase (holding difficulty steady and assuming neither inflation nor deflation, obviously) under this arrangement. The kids who are getting bad grades in the college track would shift over to vocational, where they would get work that appealed to them and that they could do, and thus would get better grades. Thus the average in both groups would improve.

I suggest that the emphasis on giving everyone a college education is not actually about what is best for people, but about status. At Hatrack (and among the people who discuss this sort of thing generally) we are overwhelmingly college-educated and middle-class; naturally we think that's the best possible life. In fact, we think it's so good that we want everyone to have one. This ignores the plain fact that people are different. There are many, many people who would be happy and productive as apprentice (and later master) plumbers, who are miserable and rebellious as apprentice knowledge workers. But because we assign such importance and status to college education, we say "Too bad! You're going to learn to appreciate Foust, whether you like it or not." This is partly a ploy to increase our own status by making college look more important, and partly a real misunderstanding of other people; but it has almost no grounding in what would actually be socially optimal.

quote:
That seems to be an argument for technical schools not child labor law revision.
Not necessarily a dichotomy. In Norway, the vocational track of high schools is partly apprenticeships. Involving, I note in passing, dangerous work with electrical installations and truck-driving.

quote:
True enough. So we're going to toss 14 year olds into a world in which their McDonald's manager can ask (in this context, read "force") them to stay until 1:00 on a school night? Yeah, screw their math homework, not everyone needs a college education.
Well firstly, yes, screw their math homework. I set out my arguments above; I also note that American high schools give way too much homework anyway. Secondly, what force? Teenaged kids work for pocket money, not rent money. If they would be out on the streets if they lost their jobs, they have a problem that has nothing to do with labour laws. Their manager has no such leverage over them.

quote:
But I would expect the drop out rate to increase. Yes, great for Dark Mauve's workforce, but not so great for society as a whole.
My argument is precisely that it is good for society as a whole, and for the kids involved.

quote:
For one thing, children cannot legally enter into contracts of any sort until they are 18.
Circular. Why should they not be allowed to?


I suggest that you are all arguing (at least in part), not from consideration of what would be best for teenagers, but from status: You dislike corporations, so laws that restrain them get more favourable considerations than they would on their actual merits; you don't dislike, but do patronise, teenagers, so laws that restrain them from making their own choices look better than they ought to. Finally, you like college and education, so laws that produce more of that look better than they should. In other words, at least part of your argument is not based in what would actually work, what would actually produce happiness, but consists instead of cheerleading: "Yay Education! Boo Corporation! We are better judges of teenagers' welfare than they are!"

(I admit that my last slogan doesn't exactly fit on a banner; perhaps "Yay Our Judgement!" would be better.)

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Jhai
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
The problem with child labor laws from the perspective of the child is that you aren't allowed to work late into the night or for too many hours on the weekend.
I wasn't allowed to work at all.
I ran into this same problem when I was 14 and 15. I wanted spending money like my friends, I got very little from my parents, and I had no legitimate way to earn any. I was actually hired by two separate places that, after learning I was under 16, told me that child labor laws made it too difficult (or perhaps impossible - I can't recall) to employ me. This was in CA.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Werenbergh Theaters was just fined big time for hiring underage employees. It was not because they had these "kids" working, but because they had these workers doing things like driving trucks, working with heavy machinery (those big projectors), and other dangerous jobs.
Ok, and? Why should they not be given responsibility, if they can handle it? How do you imagine they will grow into responsible adults capable of doing those dangerous jobs, if not by trying them on? Whatever laws you have, there will always be some point where a new worker steps into the big truck for the first time. Do you have an argument for why 20 is a better age for that to happen than 16?

We are not talking about the difference between 20 and 16 - 16 year-olds can already work. We are talking about the difference between 16 and...14? 12? Is she proposing an age limit at all?
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Blayne Bradley
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In quebec in the Montreal and surrounding areas we have CEGEPS which are basically a free college education primarily aimed at providing vocational skills and certificates; I graduated from a 3 year computer science program, also provided is art related trades like drafting, aircraft engineering, etc.

And by free I mean like 150$ per semester for what would cost 50,000 in the states.

They ALSO provide pre-univeristy preparation courses thats basically grade 12 in other provinces or the states highschools.

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natural_mystic
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KoM: what are the child labor/oversight laws in Norway like?
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King of Men
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Not a lawyer, so this is from a cursory Google search. There is a right-and-duty (a curious formulation found in much Norwegian law; our conscription law also makes reference to the right-and-duty of military service) to ten years of school starting at age six. There is additionally a right (that is, you can't be denied it but you also can't be prosecuted for not taking it) to three years' high school, during which the vocational tracks will get at least one year of apprenticeship - that is, they'll work in their chosen field, usually at half wage or so.

Then there's the law regulating work environment, which says of young people:

quote:
Barn som er under 15 år eller skolepliktige skal ikke utføre arbeid som går inn under denne lov unntatt

a) kulturelt eller lignende arbeid,

b) lett arbeid og barnet har fylt 13 år,

c) arbeid som ledd i barnets skolegang eller i praktisk yrkesorientering som er godkjent av skolemyndighetene og barnet har fylt 14 år.

that is to say,

quote:
Children less than 15 years of age, or liable to compulsory education, shall not do work covered by this law except

a) Cultural or similar work [ie acting, singing, entertainment]
b) Light work and the child is at least 13 [presumably 'light' is defined elsewhere in the law]
c) Work approved by the school and which is a part of the child's education or practical work-orientation, after the age of 14.


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Raymond Arnold
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I think that sounds reasonable, but it's contingent on the schools providing better vocational tracks.
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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:

I suggest that the emphasis on giving everyone a college education is not actually about what is best for people, but about status. At Hatrack (and among the people who discuss this sort of thing generally) we are overwhelmingly college-educated and middle-class; naturally we think that's the best possible life. In fact, we think it's so good that we want everyone to have one. This ignores the plain fact that people are different. There are many, many people who would be happy and productive as apprentice (and later master) plumbers, who are miserable and rebellious as apprentice knowledge workers. But because we assign such importance and status to college education, we say "Too bad! You're going to learn to appreciate Foust, whether you like it or not." This is partly a ploy to increase our own status by making college look more important, and partly a real misunderstanding of other people; but it has almost no grounding in what would actually be socially optimal.

You don't think there are moral and (for lack of a better word) spiritual benefits to a humanistic education?
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Stephan
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A big problem is our political system. The second a politician pushed to move away from the "every child should go to college" his/her career would be over.
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kmbboots
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We like to think that our children will have better lives than we do.
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Darth_Mauve
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Yes, my first post was straw-man central.

My second was serious.

While there is a false assumption that allowing kids to work would create juvenile sweat shops, there is also a false assumption that allowing kids to work would instill or reward the work ethic in kids.

You say that kids won't be forced to work, so the only ones seeking the jobs are those already possessed of a strong work ethic. How will this instill the work ethic in others? Hence there will be no benefit to society as a whole other than the investment of labor for those children who are wanting to work.

In the Werenberg case you asked how could the underage workers prove they were responsible without doing jobs that were both illegal for them to do and considered by the lawmakers of this country to be to dangerous for kids their age to do. I say there are plenty of ways to prove ones responsible nature than by driving a truck before you are old enough to drive.

What it proves is that they were too immature to tell their bosses that it was illegal and that they could not and should not and would not do it.

You say that all school aims to create college-bound students. Instead we need to create employment bound students.

Great. What employment?

Look through the want ads and you'll find a big need for highly educated work force, not a work force that is highly motivated.

Jobs that don't require math, rational thinking, scientific methods, or other "college" type education are very rare.

And they don't earn much.

Because those who can do them are many already.

Nobody here is arguing that technical schools are a great idea and should be where kids can learn the skills needed for their future. However there is no way that such skills will be earned flipping burgers at McDonalds.

The dangerous work they have as part of the tech-training in Norway is never unsupervised until the students prove they can handle the situation with full adult supervision. Why should that be the case with a 12 year old and hot oil at McDonalds?

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Yes, my first post was straw-man central.
If you were aware that you were doing that, why did you do it?
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
You don't think there are moral and (for lack of a better word) spiritual benefits to a humanistic education?

In a word, no.

To be more accurate, there may be such benefits to those who are interested in these things in the first place; but you cannot create that spark of interest by force. What you can do, of course, is dumb things down so everybody can get a passing grade, at the cost of killing the spark of interest among those who had it.

There are certainly people who can benefit from a liberal education but do not seek it out on their own; but they are few relative to the number who don't benefit and are forced into it.

quote:
The dangerous work they have as part of the tech-training in Norway is never unsupervised until the students prove they can handle the situation with full adult supervision. Why should that be the case with a 12 year old and hot oil at McDonalds?
So your actual objection, then, is to having new workers in dangerous trades unsupervised; not to having young workers in those jobs. Then why didn't you say so?

quote:
Jobs that don't require math, rational thinking, scientific methods, or other "college" type education are very rare.
No they aren't, actually. What's rare are jobs that can be done without any skills whatsoever, which is what you actually get after a 'college' education in X Studies. There is plenty of room for plumbers and other skilled labour.

quote:
You say that kids won't be forced to work, so the only ones seeking the jobs are those already possessed of a strong work ethic. How will this instill the work ethic in others?
Money; not only does it make the world go around, it causes people to take jobs. Money is status, power, the ability to buy a cheap car, the ability to ask a girl to a high-class restaurant or buy a surfboard. For money, people will stand in the smell of fry oil ten hours a day and ask "You want fries with that?"

Behaviour that is rewarded is repeated and emulated. Actual work is rewarded by wages on the first of the month. Schoolwork is rewarded, if at all, in the very distant future; and it is pointless besides. (Much real work is boring, but it is rarely pointless; people put up with boredom better if they understand the purpose of their task.). You will be amazed at the difference this makes to the average teenager's work ethic.

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Blayne Bradley
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@Porter: Lulz?

[ March 11, 2011, 03:58 PM: Message edited by: Blayne Bradley ]

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Mucus
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While I'm not totally against the idea. I would say to be wary of going overboard with this.

In the wake of the financial crisis, I daresay that Americans should be learning more mathematics, not less, to better avoid predatory lending, to understand the debates on budgets, and so forth.

In light of climate change and evolution, science is another area that at first glance looks like "college track" but would have serious consequences if cut.

With wars in Afghanistan and Iraq dragging on, a better knowledge of history could have avoided all this.

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DDDaysh
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Stephan - While I agree with you that the US needs far MORE "vocational" training and less a push for "college or bust", it is not true that a child with an IQ of 50 is pushed into a college bound track. A child with an IQ of 50 will most likely be identified as Mentally Retarded and educated on basic life tasks. Most children with IQ's in that range would not make good skilled laborers, and many will be depended on SSI for life.

However, we are doing a serious disservice to our kids that have IQ's between, say, 70 & 100. We're also doing a disservice to our educational system by insisting everyone spend money and time "going to college" only to have to dumb down our college curriculum so that the actual degrees are worth less and less.

On the other hand, this has nothing to do with letting 14-year-olds work 8-10 hour days instead of going to school at all. A vocational program with an apprenticeship is MUCH different than spending 9 hours flipping burgers.

As for poteiro - sorry you couldn't find a job. I grew up in Texas and started babysitting when I was 11. I was able to do that and other odd jobs for cash until I was 14, when I was allowed to start working at my grandparent's meat market (for less than minimum wage, I might point out.)

Admittedly, I wouldn't have been allowed to do this exact job if I had not been a relative, and probably we still were breaking some labor laws since I was allowed to operate a meat slicer, but I did work. I also didn't know a single teenager in my town who wanted a job and couldn't find work. There was always SOMEONE willing to employ a kid over the summer or on weekends to do SOMETHING. Heck, my other grandparents right now have a hard time finding teenagers of any age to employ for any decent length of time.

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King of Men
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Ok, I'm going to sound elitist, but so be it. You cannot teach people of average intelligence enough math to avoid being fooled by unscrupulous smart people; you can only force the unscrupulous ones to hide the models and assumptions they're using in another layer of legalistic text. You can teach them what science says, but not how it's done; consequently they will always be vulnerable to those who claim that the other guy's science is bad. And you can teach them rote facts about history, but not how to apply it to today's politics. And the reason is the same in all three cases: These things all require abstract reasoning, which can't be taught. You can either do it or not; as with all things practice makes perfect, but you have to be able to do it in the first place. Below a certain level of intelligence, and most people are below that level, you can teach rote tasks but not symbol-manipulation, and that's what's needed for the problems you mention.

Edit to add: Anyway, what was needed to avoid the housing boom and crash wasn't really math, as such; it was the art of examining assumptions, in this case the assumption that housing prices were never going to fall.

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Blayne Bradley
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Ah imagine the debate had the populace been better educated:

Republicans: "We want to invade Afghanistan."
Random Guy at Town Hall: "You mean the country that the British Empire at its height couldn't successfully invade for more than a short period of time with prohibitive casualties and of which the Soviet Union also was forced to pull out from after protracted attrition?"
Republicans: "..." HEY LOOK A GAY LIBERAL HISPANIC ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT HAVING AN ABORTION! *smokebomb runs away*

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King of Men
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Or perhaps rather:

Republicans: "Yep, that's the one, and that's why we're not going to try to impose any sort of rule on the place, we'll just destroy the current regime and pull out. A punitive expedition, in other words, like the hundreds of successful raids the British Empire did on its Northwestern Frontier for the hundred years of the Raj."

Yes, it actually would be quite nice if we had a population that knew some history and could appreciate both sides of an argument like that. But it can't be done, because - a fundamental fact of great importance - most people are of average intelligence. That is to say, thick as two short bricks.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Ok, I'm going to sound elitist, but so be it. You cannot teach people of average intelligence enough math to avoid being fooled by unscrupulous smart people ...

I'm going to sound even more elitist [Wink]

I don't think the problem in America is that people of average intelligence got fooled by unscrupulous smart people, whether we're talking about war, finances, or evolution. It's not like there's some intelligence gap between Americans and other countries, with more Americans able to get fooled.

People of average intelligence just got fooled by unscrupulous people that also had average intelligence. We just have to educate them to deal with that.

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Glenn Arnold
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Historically speaking, children began to work around the age of 11 to 13, whether this was with the family business or an apprenticeship, or just menial labor. The current requirement that all children should attend secondary education is actually pretty arbitrary, and while it feels like the norm to us, because it has existed for our lifetimes, it actually isn't normal in the context of history.

In today's schools, 11 to 13 is the age where children decide for themselves if they are not on an academic track. As a society, we refuse to acknowledge this decision, and instead try to cajole them into staying in school. It works in some cases, but in many cases, schools are just wasting these kids' time, because they have already made the decision to drop out.

The reason the current laws give the school the authority to grant working papers is that it is felt that this gives the school the ability to see if working is interfering with the student's studies. This is similar to the requirement that athletes must be passing all their courses in order to play sports.

I’m somewhat conflicted with the bill in the OP, because in general, I agree that child labor laws interfere with a child’s natural course of education once they decide not to follow an academic track. As George Bernard Shaw said: “The only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school.” For these kids, a job may be the only education they will ever get. But I would not have gone about it in this way. I think that the minimum working age should be lowered to 11, rather than being eliminated. And for those children, a job should be couched as a form of education. Businesses could form partnerships with schools, and children would be allowed (if they chose to) to enter an approved apprenticeship which would be conducted at the place of business, but overseen by a mentor from the school. This mentor would work with the business to see that the work included activities that would expose the child to academic standards.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
Historically speaking, children began to work around the age of 11 to 13, whether this was with the family business or an apprenticeship, or just menial labor. The current requirement that all children should attend secondary education is actually pretty arbitrary, and while it feels like the norm to us, because it has existed for our lifetimes, it actually isn't normal in the context of history.

Neither is widespread literacy or a postindustrial economic prosperity, so.
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
The reason the current laws give the school the authority to grant working papers is that it is felt that this gives the school the ability to see if working is interfering with the student's studies. This is similar to the requirement that athletes must be passing all their courses in order to play sports.

Not really -- the school can decide that a student can't play school sports unless they're passing all their classes, they have no say on whether the student can play non-school affiliated sports. It would be parallel if the school required student workers hired by the school to maintain academic standards -- giving the school the decision-making power outside of school-affiliated activities is quite an expanded range.
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