Posted by : BC Bass Tuesday, April 19, 2011

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Joining the ranks of Ohio and Wisconsin, Maine has become the next crucial battleground in the GOP’s fight to reform the country’s archaic labor laws, thus restoring the economy to a thriving and sustainable contender in the 21st century global marketplace. State Representative David Burns is the latest Republican lawmaker concerned that the country is not fully utilizing all of its employment resources, which he says is imperative to repairing this struggling economy. Burns’ bill, LD 1346, proposes significant changes to Maine’s existing child labor laws, encouraging employers to hire children and teenagers at more competitive wages than their adult counterparts.

Under the legislation, employers would be able to pay anyone under the age of 20 as little as $5.25 an hour for their first 180 days on the job, and the bill would eliminate the maximum number of hours a minor could work on a school day.

Len Waybill, chief economist for San Narciso’s Peter Pinguid Society, said, “Combine with this the reforms that conservative lawmakers are working toward on collective bargaining agreements, public sector employee pay, killing socialized health care, and eliminating taxes, and you’re looking at economic recovery in months, not years.”

Waybill made several compelling points about the need to exploit hardy and available resources:

“Children are robust and eager to learn. Getting them into the workforce early means they’ll be climbing the corporate ladder early. Your child could be an IBM executive at the age of 17, not 50. Also, with the soaring costs of higher education and health insurance, allowing children to become their own earners removes some of the burden from parents. Child labor laws were enacted generations ago when factories were stealing children away from their farm work. Well, we’re no longer an agrarian society. We’re all industrial now, so there’s really no reason to preclude children from the work they’ve always longed to do.”

In this day and age, according to Waybill, working children would hardly resemble the images of soot-covered waifs popularized by writers such as Charles Dickens and William Blake.

“If there’s anything familiar at all,” Waybill speculated, “it would probably be the restoration of the chimney sweep profession. Only children are small and lithe enough to cram their naked bodies into the flue of a smokestack to clean out the debris. This would also benefit the environment by reducing the amount of pollution spewed into the air from built-up waste. And with more and more Americans unable to afford heating and electric bills, they’ve reverted back to burning wood in their hearths in order to survive the harsh winters. Chimney sweeps will again have an important role to play in the modern economy.”

Perhaps the biggest financial boon anticipated by Maine Republicans will come from overseas. With the lapse of labor regulations and prohibitions on certain types of workers, leading companies in India have approached Maine Representatives to discuss outsourcing possibilities.

Said Chitragupta Gupta, CEO of a prestigious Indian technology call center, “Americans have been outsourcing services to us for many years, because we offer world class solutions at a fraction of the cost. But we remain bound by strict social laws in our country, which prevent children under the age of four from manning the phones. We must also pay a higher percentage for health benefits, minimum wages, and other other statutory costs. If the Maine bill passes, America will have become more competitive. These issues simply won’t exist. We are therefore prepared to begin outsourcing many of our services to the state of Maine. It is, as Americans say, a win-win.”

When questioned about challenges from the cultural divide, Gupta assured Maine businesses that his firm could facilitate the necessary training: “We will of course offer classes in the various accents and dialects across India, with vocal coaches on staff during orientation. Furthermore, we will be creating more ethnically friendly names for the outsourced agents in Maine. If someone answers the phone as ‘Barney’ instead of ‘Krishna,’ it might lead to confusion with Indian customers. But we have lots of experience with this kind of thing.”

The first beta customer for the outsourced project will be the McDonald’s restaurant chain in Maharashtra, where orders in drive-through kiosks will automatically route to agents in Maine.

“I think American children will be especially excited about selling Happy Meals,” Gupta concluded.

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