AUGUSTA, Maine – Children’s advocacy group Proud Parents expressed outrage this week after learning about an initiative being pushed by Gov. Paul LePage (R-Maine) that would ease child-labor restrictions in his state.
“I’m sorry, but Governor LePage is completely out of line with this initiative,” said Belinda Brockman, a spokeswoman for Proud Parents and a mother of two boys. “Our nation’s children should never be encouraged to work, even if it’s only a few hours on the weekend or a part-time shift in the summer. They belong in front of the TV, or better yet, in front of one of those PlayStation machines. That’s enough physical exertion for a year.”
The contentious child-labor initiative would, if approved, streamline the summer work-permit process for Maine children under 16, allowing them to obtain a permit directly from the Department of Labor instead of dealing with the additional hurdle of school superintendents.
“If anything, we should focus on legislation that would make it harder for our children to enter the work force,” explained Brockman. “Maybe, for instance, we could boost the minimum work age to 22. That’s the age when my 24-year-old son Tommy started working his grueling, two-hour shifts at the miniature golf course in town. And he turned out just fine.”
LePage, who first went to work at 11 years old, believes just the opposite: kids who work from a young age will develop a healthy work ethic and head toward success in life.
“A 12-year-old working eight to 10 hours a week or a 14-year-old working 12 to 15 hours a week is not bad,” argued LePage. “They just need their parents to encourage them. You know, a nice motherly kick to the caboose. Not a free pass to play Call of Duty and get hopped up on candy bars all day.”