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Child labor laws are a contributing factor in illegal immigration problems

Out on a LimbRoss L. TalbottGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The good old law of unintended consequences kicks in again. I believe it was Albert Einstein who said, “The consciousness that creates the problem is incapable of solving it.” Often, this is because they don’t recognize the connection between the action and some remotely connected result, or they are just too arrogant to concede that there could be a negative consequence.Our culture is wrestling with the illegal immigrant problem, and there is much acrimony and fear. If we value our way of life, we really should dig deep to find the causation and be forthright with solutions.The first obvious factor is the extreme difficulty in obtaining citizenship legally. I tried to help a man and his family from Zambia who desperately wanted to be Americans. I failed, and he ended up in Scotland.A second factor is the problem that temporary help or low wage help is almost impossible to find in our indigenous population.

Probably the largest single contributor to that problem is our child labor laws. They were noble intentions to protect children from unnecessary abuse and hardship. Nowadays there are many child protection systems in place, some of which are incredibly intrusive. I believe that child labor laws are no longer needed and are actually damaging to our culture and economy.Young people do not learn good work habits and ethics. Apprenticeships are not available. Many young people I have hired take no responsibility in their jobs, and think nothing of just not showing up.Government schools have promoted a culture of athletics, and teenagers who work are looked down on. The schools in Palisade used to wait until peach harvest was over, but now they don’t even have grape and fruit worker needs on their radar screen. This huge pool of part-time help has been excluded from the labor market. The fruit industry now hires young people from China to Czechoslovakia. Wouldn’t it be better if that payroll stayed in the United States?I was driving tractors when I was 8 years old. This gave me a feeling of accomplishment and responsibility to the family. Now that money goes to Mexico. The illegal immigration problem is partly due to child labor laws.Many families are having a difficult time making ends meet. Kids under the age of 14 can’t even mow lawns, and are subject to so many limitations that they seldom can help out even when their parent is single or disabled.

Because of minimum wage laws, businesses, especially agriculture and service industries, are paying more and more for less and less.Go in any restaurant or hotel and ask the waitress or other staff where they came from. Find out to what country your money is going.”As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” Today’s youth watch TV, wander the streets, party at each others’ house or play sports. By comparison, consider that the U.S. Navy’s first admiral, David Farragut, was given command of his first ship at age 12. Alexander Hamilton, who became the first Secretary of the Treasury at age 34, was a clerk in a counting house at age 13.George Washington was Commander-in-chief of the Virginia Militia at age 23.



On the one hand, government schools strive to get control of children at an earlier age by promoting all-day kindergarten and preschool, and then they try to keep young people out of the work force.Could there be some connection between our new youth culture and the need for illegal immigrants? Maybe it is also contributing to our negative balance of trade.I say trash the child labor laws and give the responsibility back to parents. Give us freefrom!Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.


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