Paul LePage: Let Maine’s 12-Year-Olds Go To Work

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January 8, 2014 8:01 a.m.

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.

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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.

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