Economist to lawmakers: Rethink those child labor laws

State lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon listened to a parade of experts assessing Georgia’s economy and the likelihood of recovery.

By far the star performer before a joint meeting of the House and Senate economic development committees was economist Robert Prechter, who has become famous for predicting the 2008 crash – in a 2002 book, “Conquer the Crash.”

Gov. Sonny Perdue has built his 2011 budget around the belief that the economy has bottomed out and that better times are ahead. Prechter expects financial markets to tumble again this year, in a crash larger than the one in 1929.

Good times.

“Even though Wall Street says 2010 is a year of recovery and bottoming out, I’m looking at it as more like the year that’s going to resume the problems that we had in 2008,” said Prechter, who should be required to issue his audiences free rolls of Tums whenever he opens his mouth.

Though he admitted that some of his ideas might be considered “radical,” Prechter gave lawmakers a list of do’s and don’t’s for coping with the coming economic Armageddon.

Economic stimulus packages don’t work, the free-marketer said. Neither does raising the minimum wage. Avoid tax or any other kind of subsidies, including those that address education or job skills.

“We’ve got education coming out of our ears. We’ve got more people going to college than at anytime in the history of the United States. If education created jobs, then there would be more jobs than we have people,” he said.

There are people, like college presidents, who argue that education is a key to unemployment. But they would say that, wouldn’t they? Prechter pointed out.

The economist/author also argued against any extension of unemployment benefits, “which sucks money away from employers, which makes them lay off more workers.”

Prechter offered this question for debate: “Is it really better to pay someone $100 a week for not working, than to let an employer pay that person $100 a week for work?”

To boost the economy, the economist offered up a free-marketer’s wish-list: Elimination of minimum wage laws and medical coverage requirements, plus repeal of licensing laws and as many business regulations as possible.

But then came the topic of kids. Said Prechter:

“This is, of course, a very delicate subject. Child labor laws, I think, are an impediment in some very extreme circumstances. There could be families that really, seriously depend on having a young person out in the work force.

“Now, people generally think that means there’s going to be these factories or [kids] busting rocks in the hot sun. But many, many jobs are low impact for young people, and I think they should at least be free to decide for themselves if they want to be employed or not.”

It was not clear that state lawmakers were willing to embrace this suggestion. And Prechter’s last recommendation for stimulating the economy was a complete turn-off for many Republicans:

“This may be unpopular, but I believe we should not, as a state, cooperate in the persecution of illegal immigrants. Everyone who’s employed is adding to the economy, and that makes more opportunity for people, not less.”

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26 comments Add your comment


January 26th, 2010
7:17 pm

Why not? At least they’d be happy to have jobs. Is there any fast food or casual national chain restaurant that isn’t staffed exclusively by ungrateful thugs and thugettes who don’t give a rats ass about customers or customer service?


January 26th, 2010
7:18 pm

fast food or national chain in Atlanta….especially the airport


January 26th, 2010
7:53 pm

Amen, Brother. The service in Atlanta and Airport food establishments is the absolute bottom of the barrel.


January 26th, 2010
8:12 pm

Why are our representatives listening to this loon? He’s a broken clock that was nearly right twice out of hundreds of “predictions.”

Algonquin J. Calhoun

January 26th, 2010
8:31 pm

Repeal child labor laws, eliminate mandated health care, don’t extend benefits for the unemployed and don’t collect taxes from the rich. This already is the Republinazi manifesto. That the bums in the Georgia House and Senate ate this up isn’t really news!


January 26th, 2010
9:18 pm

This could all be true… if we were talking about chess pawns or numbers on a page, instead of flesh-and-blood people. Those pesky humans, with their requirements of food and shelter and their pathetic children needing sleep, schooling and playtime to develop into healthy adults. They should get with the program and die off already if they’re too weak to hack it. (Is this guy in league with S.C.’s lieutenant governor or what?)

The Workin' Man

January 26th, 2010
10:15 pm

Our politicians work for the people right? The people right now need real jobs? How about are elected servants make laws that encourage business to locate in the United States-import tariffs, etc-for products coming from China and other communist countries who use their people as work mules, etc. Wall Street won’t like this but who cares what they think. What do brokers actually do? Oh, yeah, spend our money, not too different from politicians.


January 27th, 2010
6:30 am

Why do we bring in an economist who has been wrong in most of his predictions, who the Wall Street Journal and most other economist consider a little abnormal, who graduated from YALE with a PSYCHOLOGY degree, and is advice has been under-performing the stock market by 25%. Remember he said Oil would bottom out at 70 dollars a barrel, but guess what it reached over 125 dollars a barrel

Stand Watie

January 27th, 2010
7:02 am

Sorry, I can’t agree……..if an illegal immigrant has a job it means a legal resident doesn’t have it.

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January 27th, 2010
8:00 am

This guy has been predicting the next great depression for the last 20 years. In the early 1990’s he said the market was about to collapse and drop below 1000. He was recommending that his clients buy and hoard gold and silver because the economy would collapse and US money would be worthless. Those who listened to him missed the huge bull market of the 90’s. As the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

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Stan Kelley

January 27th, 2010
8:04 am

Why not abolish all governments whatsoever? That is the logical conclusion of Mr. (Elliott Wave) Prechter’s position, no zoning, no licensing, no traffic control, no roads, no water and sewer systems, etc. etc. Paul Krugman also predicted a collapse of the housing bubble. Why does the General Assembly not consult him?

Jon but not Jon Voight

January 27th, 2010
8:25 am

It’s more a testament to the flat earth lawmakers in this state this it is this free market loon.


January 27th, 2010
8:42 am

Yep, no child labor laws have been good for the vast majority of third world countries. Problem is, you need to have lots of poor ignorant kids to work instead of go to school to become engineers like in India and China, which means feeding their stray cat parents so they’ll keep breeding like rats in a cage…


January 27th, 2010
9:26 am

He’s fortunate that there’s the First Amendment to the Consitution to protect him from being locked up. He makes Ayn Rand look like a moderate!


January 27th, 2010
9:27 am

Lock him up and throw away the key. What planet has he been living on?

Wounded Warrior

January 27th, 2010
9:31 am

There will be alot of job openings come November. Child labor, many kids have to work to earn for themselves. The illegals are taking away from citizens.


January 27th, 2010
9:35 am

Who invited this guy? That says it all.


January 27th, 2010
9:37 am

I would not be opposed to some amending to child labor laws. I started working at 13, but had to work under the table due to the laws. I wasn’t oppressed. I wanted to work! My parents thought that working was good for me. I think they were right. I worked about 20 hours a week, but didn’t pay taxes due to the legalities.

I think that a child as young as 12 should be allowed to work with his parents consent up to 20 hours a week. We could use the tax revenue.

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January 27th, 2010
10:51 am

Of all the economist in the U.S. our General Asembly choose to talk to this one–With decisions like these no wonder our state is in a mess.

Pretend to be a real journalist

January 27th, 2010
11:43 am

YOu say Prechter is an economist. What are his credentials please?


January 27th, 2010
2:37 pm

Look, he is just pointing out the obvious. We take our labor laws, unemployment insurance, etc, for granted. All of these things have a cost, and those costs add up to making the U.S. less competitive. Now, I am not arguing FOR Prechter’s reforms. I am simply stating that the reason that China/India/Brazil are up-and-coming economic forces is because they do NOT have these requirements and restrictions. Our country is a better place to work for having them, but we lost our competitive edge. That is why nearly EVERYTHING that we purchase is made somewhere else.


January 27th, 2010
7:44 pm

Say good bye to the middle class..

Chris P

February 13th, 2010
10:39 am

As far as I know Prechter is a member of MENSA. Most of the people commenting here probably have half his IQ, like 80 or below.

Maybe you should consider that he might be right and our government and banks have gone into so much debt due to subsidies, minimum wage, etc. that there’s no way to avoid a collapse. So if we do go into depression I hope all you dopes realize that he’s right and place the blame the government for going TRILLIONS into debt to “improve our quality of life”. idiots