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Gingrich: Poor kids have bad work habits ‘unless it’s illegal’

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Thursday that “really poor children” have bad work habits and no knowledge of how to make an income “unless it’s illegal.”

Doubling down on his argument that children in poor neighborhoods should be employed as janitors in schools, Gingrich argued that the best way to teach children in poor neighborhoods good working habits is to put them to work as soon as possible.

“Start with the following two facts,” Gingrich said Thursday at a campaign stop in Iowa.

“Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works, so they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich said.

“They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.”

Gingrich said every successful person he knows started working at an early age in explaining his position that schools should hire poor children in their neighborhoods for part-time jobs as assistant librarians or assistant janitors.

I’m not particularly outraged by this, after all I did blog through most of the Bush 43 administration and the national mental breakdown known as the tea bagger uprising. Some thoughts do come to mind. Newt is an intellectual, he and his supporters will be happy to tell that to anyone who will listen and even those who have better use for their time. What jobs does Newt plan on finding for the janitors and librarians the kids replace. If he is not going to replace, but supplement the janitorial staff, where is the money going to come from to pay them. Janitors and librarians work for schools that are financed by a combination primarily of property taxes and federal grants. Why does an intellectual conservative think the children of America’s poor families have no work ethic, knowledge of where money comes from and poor families are somehow innately lacking in morality. Is that from a study or is that a known certainty which Newt has magically divined from out of the ether. Is it Newt’s contention that wealthy children work their little fingers to the bone for everything they have. Newt was Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999. In 1996 President Bill Clinton signed welfare reform or Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act into law.

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA, Pub.L. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2105, enacted August 22, 1996) is a United States federal law considered to be a fundamental shift in both the method and goal of federal cash assistance to the poor. The bill added a workforce development component to welfare legislation, encouraging employment among the poor. The bill was a cornerstone of the Republican Contract With America and was introduced by Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (R-FL-22) who believed welfare was partly responsible for bringing immigrants to the United States.[1] Bill Clinton signed PRWORA into law on August 22, 1996, fulfilling his 1992 campaign promise to “end welfare as we have come to know it”.[2]

PRWORA instituted Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) which became effective July 1, 1997. TANF replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program which had been in effect since 1935 and also supplanted the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program of 1988. The law was heralded as a “reassertion of America’s work ethic” by the US Chamber of Commerce, largely in response to the bill’s workfare component. TANF was reauthorized in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

Newt, the guru of ideas, the wizard of facts, the grand pontificater of all things shiny and true should know – since he was there, that in order to collect TANF – what everyone commonly refers to as welfare – one had to work thirty hours week as TANF was originally passed. Thus the program was not a free ride even then. During the Bush 43 administration the work requirements were increased to forty hours. If you do not have a job you will most likely not be able to federal welfare * see below. If you’re single woman or man without a job, do not bother to apply for TANF, you have a better chance wining the lottery. No one, for any reason, may collect TANF for more than 5 years during their entire lifetime. You’re face down in a gutter, poor and hungry. Too bad if you have no job or you collected TANF for five years. Conservatives have been puling this class warfare stuff against imaginary lazy poor people living high off the hog for decades. I would even agree that the requirements and benefits got a little crazy for a few years back in the 1970s. So hey Newt, the 1970s are calling and they have your moldy old taking points ready.

Highlights of TANF
Work Requirements:

With few exceptions, recipients must work as soon as they are job-ready or no later than two years after coming on assistance.
To count toward a State’s work participation rate, single parents must participate in work activities for an average of 30 hours per week, or an average of 20 hours per week if they have a child under age six.  Two-parent families must participate in work activities for an average of 35 hours a week or, if they receive Federal child care assistance, 55 hours a week.
Failure to participate in work requirements can result in a reduction or termination of a family’s benefits.
States cannot penalize single parents with a child under six for failing to meet work requirements if they cannot find adequate child care.
States must engage a certain percentage of all families and of two-parent families in work activities or face financial penalty.

The fact is  – my facts tend to be based on the realities here on earth rather than the facts Newt has pipped in from another time and dimension – that most poor Americans work and poor teens tend to seek work so that they will have money. Teens, still children, yet old enough to work and nothing prevents them from getting a job if they can find an opening – Poorest teens have hardest time finding summer jobs

Perhaps the Newtster knows why employers tend to prefer to hire white middle-class kids rather than poor minorities. Across the net, conservative radio and other right-leaning media is the constant admonition to the poor to find a job. It turns out they would love to have job if they do not have one, would like full-time work if they can only find part-time and get part-time jobs when possible to help pay living expenses:

Those looking for part-time work has rocketed during the recession. Calculated Risk Blog

Some people see ghost and goblins all around, conservatives see lazy Americans everywhere. Which brings up a rhetorical question – I already know the answer – why do conservatives claim to love the U.S.A. yet constantly claim that Americans are lazy schemers trying to get something for nothing. I think we all know people like that. They come in a variety of religions, colors, economic backgrounds and educational levels. I tend to think lazy scheming is bad regardless of where it originates, while conservatives are only concerned with moral slacking when it comes from the working poor. It was the wealthiest people in the U.S.A. that stole trillions of dollars from the nation. While I know those Wall Street ratbags would claim they work hard, they hardly shingle roofs all day, or take temperatures and urine samples, or lay asphalt in blistering heat or freezing cold. Just a few stats from The Working Poor Families Project  policy brief for the winter of 2010-11(pdf)

* There were more than 10 million low-income working families in the United States, an increase of nearly a quarter million from the previous year.

* Forty-five million people, including 22 million children, lived in low-income working families, an increase of 1.7 million people from 2008.

* Forty-three percent of working families with at least one minority parent were low income, nearly twice the proportion of white working families (22 percent).

* Income inequality continued to grow with the richest 20 percent of working families taking home 47 percent of all income and earning 10 times that of low-income working families.

* More than half of the U.S. labor force (55 percent) has “suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers” since the recession began in December 2007.

I’m not picking on this particular commenter at a right-wing conservative site called The Lonely Conservative, he just happens to typify the thinking of the conservative mind – Did Newt Bash Poor Children Before or After Declaring He Will Be the Nominee?

Denny on December 1, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Actually, Newt certainly did not “bash” poor children, but just the OPPOSITE, wanting to better their lives with some ideas that he hopes will end up becoming the solutions that people coalesce around. I worked a paper route when I was about 12 years old.

With so-called “friends” such as mud-throwing, inaccurate, character-assassinating fellow Conservatives helping Obama with their attack ads with scurrilous and misleading headlines, Obama is getting the help he needs to win re-election so that he can seriously and finally solidify his power for good and fundamentally transform the United States from a Constitutional Republic into the Fascist States of America, with him at the helm. Go Newt! 777denny

What’s Denny’s point? I’m a progressive Democrat. I had a paper route. I’ve been in management and had direct P&L responsibility. I’ve worked hard. I know the value of a dollar and how difficult it is to get ahead. Denny must be aware, with his depth of knowledge that the old U.S.S.R was a constitutional republic. The devil is, as they say, in the details. We might be evolving into some fascist-lite state, but that trend was started by a political movement that believed in the unitary executive. If Obama is continuing that trend to some degree, see George or Dick, or movement conservative thinkers such as Newt,  Bill Kristol ( there is a thoughtful evidence based article that puts Kristol and the intellectual foundation of modern conservatism much closer to proto-facism than Obama), John Yoo or anyone at right-wing think-tanks like the Hoover Institute. Two more facts. One is that America’s largest corporations are making record profits under the Obama administration. If that is fascism than America’s power brokers only want more of the same. Most of the legislation passed by Congress is written by American business and special interests. Conservatives and a sizable minority of Democrats have not shown the inclination, desire or backbone to put the power of the legislation process back into the hands of the people. Newt is a long time paid up member of this elite club of policy makers.

Here is a business man who belongs to the reality based community – Raise Taxes on Rich to Reward True Job Creators

It is a tenet of American economic beliefs, and an article of faith for Republicans that is seldom contested by Democrats: If taxes are raised on the rich, job creation will stop.

Trouble is, sometimes the things that we know to be true are dead wrong. For the larger part of human history, for example, people were sure that the sun circles the Earth and that we are at the center of the universe. It doesn’t, and we aren’t. The conventional wisdom that the rich and businesses are our nation’s “job creators” is every bit as false.

I’m a very rich person. As an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I’ve started or helped get off the ground dozens of companies in industries including manufacturing, retail, medical services, the Internet and software. I founded the Internet media company aQuantive Inc., which was acquired by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in 2007 for $6.4 billion. I was also the first non-family investor in Inc. (AMZN)

Even so, I’ve never been a “job creator.” I can start a business based on a great idea, and initially hire dozens or hundreds of people. But if no one can afford to buy what I have to sell, my business will soon fail and all those jobs will evaporate.

That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is the feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion a virtuous cycle that allows companies to survive and thrive and business owners to hire. An ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than I ever have been or ever will be.

Mr. Hanauer also has what is sorely lacking among conservatives like Newt or any of the conservative presidential candidates, humility. Robert Reich wrote about this phenomenon recently, Meet the new Social Darwinists – Newt, Mitt and other GOP candidates are peddling policies based on this discredited justification for inequality

They call themselves conservatives but that’s not it, either. They don’t want to conserve what we now have. They’d rather take the country backwards – before the 1960s and 1970s, and the Environmental Protection Act, Medicare, and Medicaid; before the New Deal, and its provision for Social Security, unemployment insurance, the forty-hour workweek, and official recognition of trade unions; even before the Progressive Era, and the first national income tax, antitrust laws, and Federal Reserve.

They’re not conservatives. They’re regressives. And the America they seek is the one we had in the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century.

It was an era when the nation was mesmerized by the doctrine of free enterprise, but few Americans actually enjoyed much freedom. Robber barons like the financier Jay Gould, the railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, controlled much of American industry; the gap between rich and poor had turned into a chasm; urban slums festered; women couldn’t vote and black Americans were subject to Jim Crow; and the lackeys of rich literally deposited sacks of money on desks of pliant legislators.

While it would seem that writing a blog is about changing minds I have few goals in that regard especially with conservatives who pass by. They have never been interested in facts, the common good, individual rights ( except maybe the 2nd amendment), economic or social justice. They seem completely motivated largely by money as a route to power. If America becomes a nation of cold dog-eat-eat dog survivalists who will trample over others to get at the crumbs they let trickle down, they’d be perfectly happy with that. It would be an America of sorts, the America of 1860.

Not a great jobs report for this quarter, but not Michele Bachmann’s dream come true either – Jobless Rate Drops to 8.6%, Economy Adds 120,000 Jobs

Ideologically, what group of Americans does this report remind you of,  Saudis fear there will be ‘no more virgins’ and people will turn gay if female drive ban is lifted

Repealing a ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia would result in ‘no more virgins’, the country’s religious council has warned.

A ‘scientific’ report claims relaxing the ban would also see more Saudis – both men and women – turn to homosexuality and pornography.

The startling conclusions were drawn by Muslim scholars at the Majlis al-Ifta’ al-A’ala, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council, working in conjunction with Kamal Subhi, a former professor at the King Fahd University.

One does not have to look far in the U.S. to see similar “scientific” studies and claims – Right-wing conservatives at Daily Caller Promotes “Grossly Inadequate” Study Linking Abortion And Breast Cancer.