Newt Gingrich loves to be the tough guy in the room, spouting off bizarre and dissonant policy suggestions in the name of toughening up Americans with some vague promise of self-made American-ness at the core of his thought process. Well, not really, but that's how he portrays himself. He tries to come off as some sort of out-of-the-box thinker but falls flat on the mean streak he always seems to let come out.
During a talk he gave at Harvard University this week, he said this, via The Politico:
The comment came in response to an undergrad's question about income equality during his talk at Harvard's Kennedy School.
"This is something that no liberal wants to deal with," Gingrich said. "Core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail has done more to create income inequality in the United States than any other single policy. It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid.
"You say to somebody, you shouldn't go to work before you're what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. You're totally poor. You're in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I've tried for years to have a very simple model," he said. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."
He added, "You go out and talk to people, as I do, you go out and talk to people who are really successful in one generation. They all started their first job between nine and 14 years of age. They all were either selling newspapers, going door to door, they were doing something, they were washing cars."
Never does Newt consider what happens to those "unionized janitors" if they were to be terminated in favor of paying a child a pittance to clean their school at the expense of their homework, I assume.
The richest part of the Newt/GOP mean streak is that so many of them made their fortunes being pond scum after leaving Congress or their government jobs. Here's a guy who never held a legitimate job in his life, who lives off the largesse of corporate and small business donors who pay for everything from his Tiffany's bill to his private jets, and he has the nerve to suggest that if only kids would be school janitors for a couple of bucks an hour there would be less income equality. Because the adult janitors who are paid whatever they're paid (union or otherwise) would then do what? Stand on the street and beg?
When does someone stand up and remind Newt that right now in this country there are 5 applicants for every job available and those applicants include college graduates?
But Newt promises more exciting ideas:
The former House Speaker acknowledged that it was an unconventional pitch, saying, "You're going to see from me extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America and give people a chance to rise very rapidly."
Oh, happy day.