Migrant Child Labor: Why Nick Gillespie {Hearts} Bullying, Right Now

When it comes to a libertarian, always Follow the Money. Kathleen Geier uses her weekend stint at Washington Monthly‘ Political Animal blog to pick the plutonium kernel out of Nick Gillespie’s shitty WSJ op-ed:

… I think the most awesome moment in the entire piece is when he actually comes out in favor of child labor. As In These Times has noted, “Advocates have for months been pressing the Labor Department to finalize a rule change that would help shield child farm workers from some of the most severe occupational hazards, such as handling pesticides and dangerous farm equipment, and would beef up protections for workers under age 16.” But Gillespie seems to believe that protecting kids from dangerous working conditions is for pussies: “What was once taken for granted—working the family farm, October tests with jack-o-lantern-themed questions, hunting your own Easter eggs—is being threatened by paternalism run amok.” Hey, if it was good enough for those Joad kids, it should be good enough for today’s spoiled brats! And while you’re at it, get offa my lawn!

Geier spells it out, in another post:

Gillespie refers to the children who would be affected as “kids” “working the family farm.”…
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Actually, as Chen reports, the children affected would overwhelmingly be desperately poor Latino immigrants working on big industrial farms owned by the major agribusiness concerns. Gillespie’s dishonest representation of this issue is a common ploy among conservatives, however. Whenever business regulations are debated, they are quite fond of painting heartwarming pictures of the affected parties, spinning sentimental tales about idyllic family farms and plucky small business owners. But in fact the entities being affected almost always tend to be gigantic,very rich, and very powerful corporations.

Last week, not coincidentally, was National Farmworkers’ Awareness Week. Per Michelle Chen, at In These Times:

The Child Labor Coalition, which advocates for the rights of exploited children around the world, documents a cornupcopia of abuses in the backyard of a global superpower:

*More children die in agriculture than in any other industry.
*According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), between 1995 and 2002, an estimated 907 youth died on American farms—that’s well over 100 preventable deaths of youth per year.
*In 2011, 12 of the 16 children under the age of 16 who suffered fatal occupational injuries worked in crop production, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
*When you include older children, more than half of all workers under age 18 who died from work-related injuries worked in crop production.

Advocates have for months been pressing the Labor Department to finalize a rule change that would help shield child farm workers from some of the most severe occupational hazards, such as handling pesticides and dangerous farm equipment, and would beef up protections for workers under age 16 (currently, children as young as 12 can legally work on farms, thanks to a loophole in federal labor law, and many younger ones have worked illegally, according to recent reports)…
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But common decency has again been overshadowed by a well-oiled campaign by the agricultural industry lobby, which has pushed to block the rule changes by claiming that child labor reflects good old American values.
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The “Preserving America’s Family Farms Act,” proposed by Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa, targets the pending reforms as a threat to a time-honored “tradition” of child farm labor. Evoking an imaginary pastoral ideal of the American homestead, the bill argues that the strengthening of child labor protections would “adversely impact the long standing tradition of youth working on farms to gain valuable skills and lessons on hard work, character, and leadership” and would hurt their opportunities to “gain experiential learning and hands-on skills.”

Supplemental reading, from the Atlantic: “Do Children Harvest Your Food?

So, it’s not that Nick Gillespie, Fonzie of Freedom, is necessarily a sociopath who defends turning a blind eye when kids torture other kids, in the name of ‘traditional values’. Gillespie, devout Libertarian, is getting paid to defend child abuse by giant corporations, because keeping desperately poor teenagers in the fields instead of the classroom (hey, they’d only get bullied anyways!) is profitable. And asking a Libertarian to choose the welfare of a bunch of random children he’ll never have to meet over his fat foundation paycheck and cheap produce… well, that would be a violation of his religious freedom!

25 replies
  1. 1
    BGinCHI says:

    Jesus fucking christ, have any of these libertarian people ever worked manual labor?
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    Do they have any idea what they are talking about or did they learn their entire political philosophy from misreading The Waltons?
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    Look, I grew up working on family farms. Good, solid work, but dangerous and distracting from, say, reading or enjoying one’s childhood. But I didn’t have to earn wages to feed me and/or my family. If so, I would have suffered a hell of a lot more for it.
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    Hey libtards, stick to what you know. Wait, what is that again?

  2. 2
    Yutsano says:

    And asking a Libertarian to choose the welfare of a bunch of random children he’ll never have to meet over his fat foundation paycheck and cheap produce… well, that would be a violation of his religious freedom!

    Saint Ayn can never be blasphemed. And how dare you suggest otherwise when she rode with Jeebus on dinosaurs!

  3. 3
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Well, supporting child agribusiness labor ain’t much, but the late Dimbart had already staked out the pro-child-conscription-into-the-Army territory.

  4. 4
    Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor says:

    But Nick, you just don’t understand: Well-fed, cared-for children make much better organ donors.
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    Can’t get fresh young new hearts for Dick Cheney from stringy, underfed, overworked street urchins. Sure, you pay a little more to feed and clothe ’em up front, but you get it all back once you harvest all those little organs and sell them on the free market.

  5. 5
    nellcote says:

    I thought kids that worked on their own family’s farm were excluded in the bill.

  6. 6
    MattF says:

    It’s… edifying, the way wingers are conforming ever closer to the stereotypes. It’s Obama’s fault, needless to say– he’s so moderate that any self-respecting right-winger juar has to take ever more extreme positions. And Just Because, that’s why.

  7. 7
    Scott says:

    If it’s any comfort (but it isn’t), the only reason Gillespie has a job now is because Big Libertarianism is willing to piss away good money because he makes mouth-noises that please them. If he was released on a real job market, he’d be fired repeatedly for surfing porn at work, refusing to flush the toilet, and trying to break into his boss’s office.

    I reckon in Alternate Earth-46219 (the Sane Universe), he’s been unemployed and destitute for the past two decades…

  8. 8
    Scott says:

    If it’s any comfort (but it isn’t), the only reason Gillespie has a job now is because Big Libertarianism is willing to piss away good money because he makes mouth-noises that please them. If he was released on a real job market, he’d be fired repeatedly for surfing pr0n at work, refusing to flush the toilet, and trying to break into his boss’s office.

    I reckon in Alternate Earth-46219 (the Sane Universe), he’s been unemployed and destitute for the past two decades…

  9. 9
    MariedeGournay says:

    Big talk from a guy who wouldn’t last five minutes in the field.

  10. 10
    Martin says:

    We need a new word. Or maybe I just need to learn an existing one. But these guys, and many Republicans, are anti-utopians. Not in the ‘we hate utopia’ sense, rather that they believe its already happened. They’re utopians, but where time flows backward.

    Maybe Tom was onto something with his Feynman diagrams. Liberals are utopians, Republicans are anti-utopians, and they collided in 2008 producing a heavy Obama particle, a Romney particle but with spin reversed, and a burst of radioactive teatards.

  11. 11
    MattF says:

    @Martin: And the Romney particle’s ‘soul’ quantum number is zero.

  12. 12
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    Nick Gillespie is a termite. And can someone explain the goofy sideburn fetish these glibertarians all seem to have?

  13. 13

    @nellcote:

    I thought kids that worked on their own family’s farm were excluded in the bill.

    I am not sure about that. However, I believe that most families don’t want to harm their own children. If they are warned of dangers, they’ll protect their kids from them.

  14. 14
    Martin says:

    @MoeLarryAndJesus: The greatest expression of freedom anyone has is the freedom to look like an idiot. Do you hate them for their freedoms?

  15. 15
    Commenting at Ballon Juice since 1937 says:

    hunting your own Easter eggs

    I’m still trying to figure out how that is done. Does he think rabbits lay Easter eggs? I live in a rural area where agriculture is king. The farmers’s kids go to Cornell. They aren’t allowed to handle the toxic chemicals sprayed on fields. That’s for the the browns.

  16. 16
    Martin says:

    @Commenting at Ballon Juice since 1937: I think ‘easter egg’ is a euphemism for ‘immigrant’. Then it makes sense.

  17. 17
    Chris T. says:

    well, that would be a violation of his religious freedom!

    So … his God is Mammon?

  18. 18
    Keith G says:

    @Linda Featheringill: The family farmers I grew up with in NW Ohio wanted their kids healthy, safe and in school. Our small farm was surrounded on three sides by the fields of our neighbor. Families from “The Valley” would come in May and stay through the summer working beet fields in Lucas County and the tomato fields that were in neighboring counties to our south.

    I never saw the farmer’s kids or grand kids in those fields, but as an 11 yr old I became friends with Ray, a son of one of the migrant families. When he could get away from the work, he would use one of our bikes so we could ride around the country roads together. My mom made sure he came to my birthday party.

    Thanks for posting this A L. This is one thing worthy of outrage and action and I will be getting in touch with some people.

  19. 19
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    @Martin:

    The greatest expression of freedom anyone has is the freedom to look like an idiot. Do you hate them for their freedoms?

    Actually, I kind of do.

    Does that make me a bad person?

  20. 20
    Svensker says:

    @Martin:

    a burst of radioactive teatards.

    Beautiful.

  21. 21
    khead says:

    Let him tell it to today’s anecdote.

  22. 22
    Cacti says:

    I didn’t grow up on a family farm, but did have the chance as a youth to harvest green beans, tomatoes, and corn in the 95 degree summer sun in Missouri.

    Your average glibertarian would keel over after an hour.

  23. 23
    smith says:

    If this type of work is so “good” for kids, why aren’t Gillespie’s kids out there working the farm(s)?

    Oh wait a minute, silly me, child labor isn’t for libertarians and their kids it’s for OTHER people’s kids.

  24. 24
    Gex says:

    @Linda Featheringill: “most” is kind of key though isn’t it? if you exempt all and only “most” care, you’ve given yourself no room to deal with the remaining.

  25. 25
    Jewish Steel says:

    And asking a Libertarian to choose the welfare of a bunch of random children he’ll never have to meet over his fat foundation paycheck and cheap produce…

    That’s pretty wicked, AL. Good one.

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