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.”…
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)…
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.
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!