Link to jump to start of content The Seattle Times Company Jobs Autos Homes Rentals NWsource Classifieds seattletimes.com
The Seattle Times STOP: The Seattle Times Opinion Blog
Traffic | Weather | Your account Movies | Restaurants | Today's events



Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

The opinions you read below are those of the individual writers, not necessarily views that will become formal positions of The Seattle Times. Respond to STop
(Please be aware that your name and comments may be published here, unless you specify otherwise).

Currently, STop cannot automatically post readers' comments on the blog. However, the editorial staff will regularly post readers' comments. Your comments are sent directly to the individual editor or writer.

space space space

Jim Vesely
space
Jim Vesely
E-mail | Bio


Lee Moriwaki
space
Lee Moriwaki
E-mail | Bio


Joni Balter
space
Joni Balter
E-mail | Bio


Eric Devericks
space
Eric Devericks
E-mail | Bio


Lance Dickie
space
Lance Dickie
E-mail | Bio


Bruce Ramsey
space
Bruce Ramsey
E-mail | Bio


Kate Riley
space
Kate Riley
E-mail | Bio


Lynne Varner
space
Lynne Varner
E-mail | Bio


Ryan Blethen
space
Ryan Blethen
E-mail | Bio


July 09, 2004

Labor law and one's own kids

In our Page One story on Thursday, July 8, we highlighted a struggle between a Yakima family, the Dotys, with state regulators over the issue of child labor. The Dotys, a fundamentalist Christian family, were employing their own kids, aged as young as 11, in their house-moving business. One use was having the kids sit on the top of the roof, and push up the wires when the house went under traffic lights. This was to teach their kids the work ethic.

I am sympathetic to the Dotys. Having kids work does teach them the work ethic. This is an old-fashioned way to do it, but being old-fashioned should not be forbidden by law. The point of the child labor law is to prevent employers from endangering kids--that is, other people's kids--who are presumed to be too young to look out for themselves when their parents aren't there. The law should be more lenient if the kids are working in the family's own business.

I know the rejoinder: What if the family is putting the kids at unacceptable risk? Imagine this, imagine that. That is the problem with all freedom. It is the family's responsibility to feed their kids food; but what if they don't do it? Shouldn't we have a state bureaucracy of adequate dinners? Well, we know from experience that parents will feed their kids, and it is heavyhanded and tyrannical to regulate them into doing it.

We also know that parents who have their kids work will almost never ask them to take unacceptable risks, because the kids are their kids. It matters little whether the kids working around the house, around the farm, or in a family owned commercial business. So why does the law single out the commercial business?

The reason is the labor movement. Unions represent adults, and they don't want to compete with kids. That is why the law is written the way it is. That is a politically understandable reason, but it is not a good reason.

Respond to this posting

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at July 9, 2004 12:24 PM



Marketplace

November 2005

S M T W T F S
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30