Article Jakub Skala from Mises.cz "Shine and misery of child labor"Provoked (not only here, but also on the original website) relatively interesting reactions. It is a pity that one of the bases of those reactions was often a simple misunderstanding. Of course, no one wants children to work in factories in our country today.
No one disputes that a ten-year-old child does not have the intellectual "power" to negotiate with his "employer." Nobody says that's not the case.
The only thing I or Jakub Skala say is that we are actually incredibly rich. There are 15 children under the age of 1 in the Czech Republic. There are roughly the same number of people over the age of 601 in the Czech Republic.
These two groups of about the same size are able to feed the rest of us. For the latter, it's been a problem for a year. Not for the first one. We are able to support our children precisely because we are, in fact, a relatively rich society.
But what makes us so rich today? This is of course (also) thanks to children who went to work a hundred or more years ago. At that time, we, as a "society", were not rich enough to feed such a significant part of the population as children. Wealth is created by producing - producing innovation, new ideas, better products - things that satisfy human needs (more, better). The children of that "wild capitalism" of the 19th century produced - and created wealth. The wealth that makes today's children not have to work.
Let us respect the children of that time and respect our present wealth. Not theirs children's work, we would be somewhere at the level of the 19th century. Why? Because if we needed child labor today, it would mean that we would not have the capital (machines, finances, professionals) to replace them naturally.
The children of that time did an interesting thing: by producing and creating capital, they made today's child labor rather counterproductive. Its "price" is negative. Today's children do not work not because it is forbidden by law, but because it is no longer needed. It is better to let children be educated so that they can work at all, because basic literacy and the ability to think are basic prerequisites for today's work. An uneducated child is too expensive a worker, compared to a person with primary school it is at a clear disadvantage. Currently, there is no job for uneducated children, there is no reason for them to work.
It was not the state that "abolished" child labor, but the children themselves, through their own previous work.
The current law, which prohibits work unless you were 15 and you have not completed primary school, is about as valid today as the legal ban on parking a human spaceship in an alien garden. Today, in no case will almost anyone force children to work (by force). And if someone else does it somewhere, no law will stop him - usually it's more a question of social care.
Let the poor get rich
As I have already said, I believe that Jakub Skala did not want to honor child labor in his article. I think the aim could have been to point out another, very important fact.
Lately, it's fashionable to say baby work should be disabled. Banning some work (general) is a bit nonsense - even today our children work (I washed the dishes and took out the basket).
Poor third world countries are often targeted - saying that "poor children need help from factory tyranny". However, this is nothing more than a development similar to what we Europeans have already experienced: children work so that future children do not have to work.
If we impose a duty on products that have been produced through child labor, for example, we will do nothing but force more and more generations of children to work, instead of being educated. Today's children will have to leave the factory. Their alternatives are hard work in agriculture and prostitution. Future children in third world countries will be forced to work one way or another - either legally, because their world will not be rich enough to ensure a peaceful childhood, or "illegally" - by the aforementioned prostitution, begging or agriculture.
Child labor disappears by itself, as a sign of the coming wealth. Let's look forward to it.