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Child Labor laws: repeal them

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jtucker Posted: Tue, Jan 22 2008 3:58 PM

 I would be very happy for some feedback on this article, which makes an argument against child labor laws. I'm not sure that I've seen a popular piece on this topic in a long while, if ever. 

 So I'm curious whether I made the case, and how it could be strengthened. 

Publisher, Laissez-Faire Books

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equack replied on Wed, Jan 23 2008 12:54 AM

The case could be strengthened in my opinion by some empirical observations from the industry standpoint. From my point of view, the laws are essentially blue laws that need removal from the books. As someone who works in a grocery store and is only age 17, I barely follow any of the federal laws set down for minors. For example, laws prohibiting the use of a cardboard crusher, garbage bailer, knives and boxcutters, and other machinery including but not limited to powerjacks are simply absurd and counterproductive for work. I am compelled as a produce clerk to use all of those machines and tools to complete my daily tasks and its ignorant to have such laws in the first place. They are also unenforced although the story policy clearly states its commitment to federal laws regarding minors. Thus, I make the point that they are simply ineffective and counterproductive to minors in the workforce.

Now, I jump ship to the ethics of such laws as you have elaborated on clearly in your article. They truly are anti-family due to the fact that its government, not parents, deciding the hours at which children shall work. On school weeks, I am forced to no more than 4 hours a day during the week and no more than 8 a day on the weekends. My store follows these mandates quite rigorously as they are subjected to audits via the state yearly which imposes penalties to recalcitrant businesses, yet the clever anarchist always finds ways to subvert them (Using time exception sheets for hours worked over your normal shift). I also make the point that how can they determine the correct number of hours for a student to work per week and is it correct for them to decide in the first place? Tackling the former, there is no way in which they can determine how many hours a student should work; its almost as phony as economists talking about optimum quantities. Looking at the latter, its anti-family due the decision making power being taken out of the hands of parents and put into the hands of bureaucrats.

To sum up my points, you should focus on the utility of such laws and how they are counterproductive for working teenagers. I really think that much of the industry never follows these laws or finds ways to get past them. As I have read in many articles on, the market always finds a way out of the constraints the government leaves it in. The ethics are quite clear as they are certainly anti-family and need no further explanation.

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