The video at peekURL.com/vpxnhbs features Mankiewicz falsely claiming that Johnson wants to "end child labor laws" based on an interview that ThinkProgress shot with Johnson (see that video here: peekURL.com/vmBCZCT ). On the second video, the most that Johnson says is that he wants to "loosen" child labor laws, not end them as Mankiewicz claims. A transcript of the second video is at . Mankiewicz is lying, and apparently thinks his viewers are too lazy to seek out the full interview.
As for Johnson, he's, as could be expected, supporting bad policy. The fact is that child labor laws are already fairly loose; see the jobs that children of various ages can perform at youthrules.dol.gov/know-the-limits (state laws might be more strict.) There's a major organization to teach business skills to students: ja.org. There's even a PBS show that profiles kids who've started businesses: bizkids.com (see for instance Season 1, "Episode 112: Introducing Entrepreneurs"). While there have been isolated incidents of local authoritarians clamping down on lemonade stands, those happen only very rarely. At the very least, it would seem that kids who want to start a computer consulting business (as Johnson discusses) could be the sole employee of a company started by their parents for them.
So, if all Johnson were concerned about was kids learning entrepreneurship and the like, his concerns don't seem to be valid. What exactly he's really thinking of isn't clear; does he want 12-year-olds operating jackhammers and forklifts? Or, is he just not familiar with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? Can he point to specific examples of kids being shut out of being entrepreneurs or not being able to do jobs that it would be good public policy for them to be doing?
Personally, I think many libertarians would be perfectly happy to see the U.S. plunged into the Dickensian past of workhouses and children working in mills (as long as libertarians were the ones holding the whip). But, that's not what Johnson says or implies on the second video.
And, Ben Mankiewicz is so sleazy he has to make things up rather than showing what's wrong with what Johnson actually said.
5/16/12 UPDATE: The Department of Labor got rid of their handy one-page table at youthrules.dol.gov/jobs.htm, I changed the URL above to the current page.
 Post by Scott Keyes: thinkprogress.org/2011/04/21/
Mon, 04/25/2011 - 04:43 · Importance: 4