Syndicated from post here.
Betsy DeVos, the billionaire whom Trump tapped to lead the Department of Education, is intertwined with a group calling for the repeal of child labor laws.
The Amway heiress donates incredibly large sums of money to advance right-wing causes (including “conversion therapy” groups that seek to “cure” homosexuality), but one group that received hundreds of thousands of dollars from one of DeVos’ foundations just published a troubling article calling for the elimination of child labor laws.
Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty claims to “articulate a vision of society that is both free and virtuous, the end of which is human flourishing… [E]xhort business executives and entrepreneurs, to integrate their faith more fully into their professional lives, to give of themselves more unselfishly in their communities, and to strive after higher standards of ethical conduct in their work.” In addition to donating large sums of money to the Acton Institute, DeVos has sat on its board for a decade.
However, shortly before the election, the Acton Institute published a blog post called “Bring Back Child Labor: Work is a Gift Our Kids Can Handle” (the “Bring Back Child Labor” language was later removed after public outcry). Author Joseph Sunde — who is listed as a “project director” for the Acton Institute — said that “a long day’s work and a load of sweat have plenty to teach” in his argument for undoing laws over a century old implemented to protect children from the robber barons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries:
“Operating out of a justified fear of the harsh excesses of ‘harder times,’ we have allowed our cultural attitudes to swing too far in the opposite direction, distorting work as a ‘necessary obligation of adulthood,’ a gift too dangerous for kids,” Sunde wrote. “In our policy and governing institutions, what if we put power back in the hands of parents and kids, dismantling the range of excessive legal restrictions, minimum wage fixings, and regulations that lead our children to work less and work later?” Sunde wrote.
If confirmed as the next Secretary of the Department of Education, DeVos is likely to introduce school vouchers into the mainstream, which gives parents taxpayer money to send children to private schools — essentially bankrupting public schools of the resources necessary to educate lower-income children. While she would be unable to unilaterally roll back child labor laws, DeVos would be in a position as Education Secretary to strengthen the private sector’s influence over the public school system.
DeVos’ confirmation hearing is scheduled for January 17.
Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Follow his work on the Public Banking Institute blog.
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