How do you energize a state’s economy when “47 percent of able-bodied” residents don’t have a job? Let 12-year-olds into the workforce.
That’s what Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) told attendees Tuesday at an agricultural trades show, according to the Portland Press-Herald.
“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, as quoted by the Press-Herald. “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.”
Last year, the outspoken governor was recorded telling an audience of conservative women that “about 47 percent of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don’t work,” echoing former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s memorable comment dismissing 47 percent of the American public for not paying income tax.
LePage has long pushed to lower the legal working age to 12, according to the Bangor Daily News, based on his own experience working at a younger age. Children under 16 must obtain a work permit and be enrolled in school before beginning a job under current Maine law, but the state’s Department of Labor is expected to streamline that process this month.