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THE CHILDREN ARE OK

I reserve the right to be wrong, but...



seriously. The kids are OK! It's hit the news that Bolivia, one of the bastions of Latin American leftism, recently changed its labour laws to permit 10-year-olds to work if self-employed, and 12-year-olds if working as employees of someone else.

Is this wise? Is this not the very height of immorality? Are children not so precious that they must be shielded from the ravages of the labour market? You'd think that would be exactly Evo Morales' line. Perhaps that why the Bolivian President wasn't around when this legislation became law.

The Morales government has always been far less interesting to outsiders than that of the late Hugo Chavez, principally because Morales has tended toward a gentler socialism than his Venezuelan amigo.

Nevertheless, permitting child labour does seem somewhat in keeping with the admissions even of other Socialists, notably David Harvey in A Brief History of Neolibralism - an  insipid book, scarcely worth reading but for the observation in its later pages that legislating child labour away mostly just invites drug cartels and pimps to take advantage of desperately poor youths.

That being the case, perhaps removing barriers to entry for youths will actually, on balance, be positive for the kiddies themselves, as they both learn to make a living and avoid the pitfalls of, on the one hand, acting against the law, and being constantly pressured to work in areas that are entirely illegal anyway.

The Bolivian government's goal seems to be the elimination of this kind of child labour over the next decade or so, though I perceive that, in a country that is otherwise regulated to the hilt, development will deliver the people from poverty but slowly, and a few more decades of child labour may yet be needed.

Still, props to the man for recognising a failing policy and reversing it! More, please!



On the next Ecomony Blogtime; Matt swallows an idea whole...

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