Republican legislators nationwide may want to pause. Take a moment to think beyond their immediate campaign needs and think about the long term consequences of their actions.
In state after state after state, members of the GOP are leading efforts to roll back pesky child protection labor laws.
The push comes in response to reports there have been increases in child labor law violations in industries such as manufacturing, meat packing and agriculture, with injuries and deaths coming to workers as young as 12 years old.
These accidents typically affect children from impoverished families and who are non-white—the sort of people who usually find themselves marginalized in our country.
The need for the young workers doing dangerous work, business owners say, is prompted by an adult labor shortage. It appears anyone with critical thinking skills and life experience over the age of 18 years old wants to be fairly compensated and not put their lives on the line each time they clock in. Or they are dead or are sick again because of long COVID and the rush back to normal.
Enter the children.
Rather than clamp down harder on violators and admonish them with, at the very least,”Pay up and don’t do it again,” they want to do away with some of the rules intended to keep kids safe and not interfere with their schoolwork.
But Republicans may not be thinking their actions all the way through. While proposed changes would benefit the interests and business owners who contribute to their campaigns, they may also be empowering the very people who could undermine them.
Have they considered what economic power a workforce of teenagers and preteens could yield? While any of those children under 18 years of age may not have the right to vote—yet—imagine the sort of political influence a union of angry kids could wield.
They could pool their money to form a PAC that advocates for their right to attend schools and concerts and parks without fear of being slaughtered in another mass shooting. They could financially support candidates who propose and act on behalf of sensible and safe changes to gun laws and heaven knows GOP lawmakers don’t want that to happen.