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No One is Against Child Labor
No one is against child labor. Not really, when you think about it. There are kids working all over town, mowing lawns, babysitting, shoveling driveways, raking leaves, carrying firewood etc. No one bats an eye. I've never heard of someone, upon seeing some young teen mowing a lawn, running over and hugging them saying, "You poor thing! Who did this to you! Who made you do this!"
No one really cares about child labor. In fact you're more likely to see people, arms crossed, nodding in approval, exclaiming "it's good for 'em. Learn 'em the value of work." Instead of ashamedly hiding the fact that their children do labor, you're more likely to find parents bragging about the entrepreneurial exploits of their child, talking about how their daughter is CPR certified and making over $200 a month babysitting.
No one really is against child labor. What they are really against is child competition. They don't want children to compete in the labor market for jobs that pay better than shoveling snow or walking dogs. This is why it is no surprise that it was unions that lead the cause against child competition in the labor market. Unions' sole purpose is to benefit their members at others' expense, and children are an especially weak group of society and thus an easy target.
Of course there's the typical political lie about outlawing child competition for the benefit of children, but this lie is easily exposed by looking at the actual legislation. One notices that the most grueling and backbreaking type of labor--farm work--is excepted from the law. So while a 13-year-old can't take your movie ticket at the theater and show you to your seats, he can pick cotton.
For further proof one need only look to the context in which the law was passed--the Great Depression. There were many bad ideas about how to solve unemployment in those days, and one of the most prevalent was the idea that there was only so much work to go around, and the only question was how it should be divided up. Hoover cut down on immigration, thinking that with fewer immigrants there would be less people looking for the same number of jobs. FDR came up with work-sharing ideas, those being that more people could work fewer hours, thus splitting the work, and pay, between them. Outlawing child competition made perfect sense in this context. Cut a large number of people out of the labor market and voila! unemployment magically goes down. Of course this didn't work either, but the strengthening union movement sure loved it, so it was here to stay.
No one is really against child labor. If the old lady across the street hires a 13-year-old to move her couch, are you going to call the police? No. Because you're not really against child labor either.