An estimated one in six kids, or 158 million globally, are engaged in some form of child labor -- much of it dangerous. But a Missouri state senator says kids in Bangladesh or Brazil shouldn’t get to have all that hazardous, low paying fun. She wants the youth of Missouri to go to work without the encumbrances of silly labor laws.

Jane Cunningham (R - West County) believes the kids from the “show me” state need to show a little backbone and work ethic, so she’s sponsoring a bill (SB 222) that would repeal much of the state's child labor laws.

If she has her way, children under the age of 14 would be able to work all hours of the day (or night), no longer would need a work permit and be able to work at motels and resorts so long as they're given board. Or a board perhaps.

And those generous, benevolent businesses that exploit, woops, I mean employ, these kids, wouldn’t be subject to inspections from the buzz killers at the Division of Labor Standards. Heck, if we’ve learned anything in the last 170 years when the first child labor laws came into being, it’s that we can trust the marketplace to treat workers right without interference from a bunch of fuddy duddy overseers.

Rep. Cunningham “defended” her legislation saying her two adult sons both held jobs as minors (or was it miners?) and are “better for it.”

"My aim is to put back some common sense,” she said. “We're not doing students any favor by telling them, 'You cannot work.' "

Somewhat surprisingly, the bill is under attack from labor groups who think there's a reason why current law only allows children to work three hours on school days and no more than eight hours on non-school days.

I’m not sure why the unions wouldn’t want access to an untapped pool of potential workers, for the exact same reasons factory owners liked kids in the 1800’s; they are “more manageable, cheaper and less likely to complain about working conditions” than their adult counterparts.

Granted, traditional bastions of child labor such as glass factories and textile mills aren’t exactly growth industries today, and there is less demand for newsboys, messengers, bootblacks and peddlers. But surely there is somewhere in this job-starved land, or at least Missouri, where we can pull kids from the classroom and teach them instead about the miseries of low paying working life.

Tags: News, Labor Laws, Labor, Missouri, Child Labor, Jane Cunningham