Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thank God I'm a Country Boy

"Child labor" is one of those hot-button phrases that many economists will excruciatingly lisp to Principles students, eliciting wrath-borne gasps as the professor challenges the popular wisdom that maybe it's not such a hot idea to discriminate against the young. Yet, oddly, many of those same students grew up washing dishes, mowing the lawn, baling hay or slopping the pigs for no pay. What's the deal with that? It's fine for them to do the work, but it's exploitation if they get paid.

Well, worry no more, because the Department of Labor has your back, kids.
"Children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Ensuring their welfare is a priority of the department, and this proposal is another element of our comprehensive approach."
Sure, right now it's tobacco cultivation, pesticides and texting while using a combine, but fret not, I'm sure the DoL will be making short work of the dreaded task of making your bed in the morning (lower back injuries are responsible for billions of dollars' worth of disability claims per year).

All joking aside, are chores children do for no pay different in some regard for work they might do for pay? Is there an assumption of BATNA disparity for children? What is the appropriate response?

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?