Maine's Tea Party governor: Bring back child labor!

Gov. Paul LePage says lowering his state's age requirements for work will help Maine's economy

Published January 8, 2014 5:10PM (EST)

  (AP/Robert F. Bukaty)
(AP/Robert F. Bukaty)

Speaking at the 73rd annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show on Tuesday, Maine's Tea Party governor, Paul LePage, recommended improving his state's economy by lowering the age at which a child can begin to work.

“We don’t allow children to work until they’re 16, but two years later, when they’re 18, they can go to war and fight for us,” LePage said. "That’s causing damage to our economy. I started working far earlier than that, and it didn’t hurt me at all. There is nothing wrong with being a paperboy at 12 years old, or at a store, sorting bottles, at 12 years old."

This isn't the first time LePage has expressed an unorthodox understanding of his state's labor market. In 2013, LePage claimed that roughly "47 percent of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don’t work." Politifact examined LePage's claim, awarding it their highest designation for wrongness/dishonesty.

More from the Portland Press Herald:

LePage has said previously he started working when he was 11. Maine law requires students who want to work before they reach the age of 16 to get a work permit from their school superintendent and meet other requirements.

LePage also told show attendees he believes Maine can strike a better balance between conserving its natural resources and developing its economy and that doing so would bring prosperity.

“You’re the folks we want to bring prosperity to,” he told several hundred people at a luncheon at the show, held at the Augusta Civic Center. “If the revenues go up, I can go golfing. If not, I’m going to have to continue working 80 hours a week.”

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

MORE FROM Elias Isquith

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Child Labor Gop Maine Paul Lepage Politifact Portland Press Herald Republican Tea Party