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Maybe you remember seeing this Krugman column that talked about the Texas Attorney General who opposes regulating CO2 on the grounds that:

It is almost the height of insanity of bureaucracy to have the EPA regulating something that is emitted by all living things.

[….] This argument says that we should adopt an equally laissez-faire attitude toward sewage.

But hey, there was a time when conservatives did, in fact, argue for doing nothing about effluent of any kind. In the years leading up to the Great Stink of 1858, which finally got the British to build a London sewer system, The Economist editorialized against any such foolish notion (pdf):

suffering and evil are nature’s admonitions-they cannot be got rid of.

Or, to put it (almost) in the modern vernacular, stuff happens.

And given the way we’re heading – with politicians arguing that the federal government has no right to ban child labor – don’t be surprised to see the anti-sewer movement making a comeback, and to see elected representatives, even if they know better, holding their noses and going along.

Seems that Mike Lee, the wingnut who replaced Senator Bob Bennett from Utah, believes that Congressional laws banning child labor are unconstitutional.

“Congress decided it wanted to prohibit that practice, so it passed a law. No more child labor. The Supreme Court heard a challenge to that law, and the Supreme Court decided a case in 1918 called Hammer v. Dagenhardt,” Lee said. “In that case, the Supreme Court acknowledged something very interesting — that, as reprehensible as child labor is, and as much as it ought to be abandoned — that’s something that has to be done by state legislators, not by Members of Congress.”

Our own Sen. Jane Cunningham agrees that this issue belongs to the states. But if you think Lee is nuts, heartless, and laughable, then consider that Cunningham is nuttier, meaner and more asinine, because she doesn’t even go along with Lee’s avowal that child labor is “reprehensible.” Cunningham has introduced a bill to minimize Missouri’s child labor laws. No, I’m serious.

Mike Hall’s AFL-CIO blog posting about it says:

I could find all kinds of colorful words and descriptions to show just how crazed and outrageous is S.B. 222.

But let’s just use the official summary of the bill from the Missouri state Senate website and if you don’t believe me, click here and read it yourself.

  • This act modifies the child labor laws.
  • It eliminates the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen.
  • Restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day are also removed.
  • It also repeals the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen obtain a work certificate or work permit in order to be employed.
  • Children under sixteen will also be allowed to work in any capacity in a motel, resort or hotel where sleeping accommodations are furnished.
  • It also removes the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ.
  • It also repeals the presumption that the presence of a child in a workplace is evidence of employment.

Even though Cynthia Davis (R-hunger is a great motivator for children) lost her state senate bid last fall, her ignoble, penurious spirit endures in Jane Cunningham. We’ll have to hope that Missouri’s legislators refuse to hold their noses and go along.