With Mother's Day right at our back, I want to address one of the most extreme overreaches by the federal government into American homes that I've seen in a long time. Then I want to call on my own 91-year-old mother, who was raised in rural Oklahoma and worked in cotton fields with her family during the Great Depression, to help set straight the rural farm and child labor record.
After a national decry by American farmers (and all of us who support them), the Obama administration has just shelved its plan to severely restrict kids younger than 16 from working on family farms. But mark my words. As the feds often do, they merely are regrouping to march again on those great American homesteads.
Part of the very words of the U.S. Department of Labor's "withdrawal" statement: "The Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations. ... To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration."
"Will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration"?
So, until Jan. 20, 2013, right?
Kudos to the bipartisan group of 98 members of Congress who sent a letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis protesting this rule, which would have severely limited teenagers and younger children from learning the family trade, not to mention undermined the very business fabric of rural America. It might sound legislatively crazy if it weren't coming from one of the most overextended federal governments in the history of the U.S.
According to The Raleigh Telegram, "the rule would have prevented children younger than 16 from doing 'agricultural work with animals and in pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins' while also forbidding them from using 'power-driven equipment' and working in the 'cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.'"
Can you imagine? What's next? The feds' crackdown making it illegal for kids to wash dishes, because a knife might cut them? No grinding up food, because the garbage disposer might malfunction and start suddenly while their hand is in it? No more cooking or ironing, because their hands might get burned? No more housecleaning, because the Environmental Protection Agency has designated the mixture of certain cleaning chemicals as hazardous to touch or breathe in?
Let's get real, folks! How far do the feds have to mingle in our manure before we say enough is enough? How far do we have to slide down the slippery slope of socialism before the descent becomes irreversible, before we say, "Welcome to Greece"?