2014 July 19 Saturday
Bolivia Legalizes Child Labor From Age 10

After Central American kids move to America en masse to be greeted by Nancy Pelosi the Bolivian, Colombia, Peruvian, and Venezuelan kids can get the same treatment. They'll be experienced workers when they arrive: Bolivia becomes first nation to legalise child labour from age 10.

This is a move to stop persecution. Bolivian Senator Adolfo Mendoza says we should stop persecuting child laborers and their parents. Hey, this is a human rights issue.

One of the advantages of the legislation: It allows mothers with lots of kids to keep them around her while she works. They can work at the same job she works at. Plus, if she doesn't make enough money to feed them all (and yet, yes, she did have them all) then their income helps to pay for their food and clothing. So that's good.

Nancy Pelosi wants to take all these kids home with her. Okay, why doesn't she?

You might think these kids are losing out on an education. I am reminded of a post EdRealist did a few weeks ago about how even vocational training has significant cognitive demands. But luckily there are still jobs with low cognitive demands.

What jobs require minimum skills? All the jobs reformers and progressives both describe in disparaging terms: Walmart clerk, hotel maid, custodian, garbage collector, handyman, fast food worker. The average elite makes these jobs sound unfit, an insult to even consider.

The problem is that Bolivia has a huge supply of people who can do those jobs and a much smaller supply of people who can do the more cognitively demanding jobs. We are importing a lot more of the former than of the latter. EdRealist provides an example of one such kid who is really excited about his future at Subway.

I had a kid who I will call Sam in my Math Support Class for Kids Who Didn’t Pass the Graduation Test. He wasn’t particularly memorable, charming or appealing, a slacker constantly trying to get out of any effort. If I didn’t take away his cell phone, he’d never work and even without his cell phone he’d be more likely to draw than practice the basic skills I tried to help him improve on. His skills are incredibly weak; like many low IQ kids he’s got good solid math facts but no ability to synthesize or generalize.

A couple months ago, long after he’d finished my class, Sam came bounding into my room beaming. BEAMING. He’d gotten a job at Subway. He was going to make a presentation in English class on how to make a sandwich, and he was wondering if I could help him edit his essay on the same topic. His essay was weak, but it demonstrated significant effort on his part, and he took my edit suggestions to heart and returned with a still-weak-but-much-improved version. I’ve seen him several times since, getting an update on his increasing hours, a raise, getting his GED because he can’t pass the graduation test. He’s got a purpose and he’s excited. He could give a damn if elites think his job’s a dead end.

We have a growing supply of people who can do less cognitively demanding work. Our elites should be worried and opposed to the policies that are causing this state of affairs. But they aren't. Nope.

Read this 1994 qualitative study, in which managers of large low or unskilled work forces describe why they hire more Hispanics, the power of networks, and the ability to get good workers for less because hiring by referral was cheaper, even if, or especially if, the workers were all Hispanic. Notice how the employers talk about black and white low-skilled workers, natives, who resented the treatment. Notice the discussion of different hostilities between blacks and Hispanics, but also the fact that Dominicans, Guatemalans, and Mexicans didn’t like working together. Then read the same author, Roger Waldinger, finding that second generation Hispanic immigrants are not, as was the case with other immigrants, moving up. So we imported millions of illegal Central Americans, they had kids that are now permanently low skilled workers—and still, as any employer can tell you, subject to the same inter-group hostilities, but now just as entitled as the blacks and whites are. This is a group we need more of?

Our elites are insanely irresponsible, not just mildly so.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 July 19 08:49 PM 

Neil McNeil said at July 31, 2014 4:00 PM:

"Bolivia Legalizes Child Labor From Age 10"

In Texas we we put them in jail for being absent to school and working in order to survive.


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