By Ethan Hughes

The current Iowa legislature has passed countless reprehensible bills this legislative session: from banning discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools, to attempting to ban abortions, to the legalization of puppy-hunting by beating them to death with kittens. Truly, a laundry list of unpopular evil policies designed to hurt people and flex their unchallenged power. Despite all these dystopian policies, the Iowa legislature has finally passed a law that Grinnell has united behind instead of against. 

Bill 542 helps loosen Iowa’s restrictive child labor laws, lowering the minimum age of workers’ safety restrictions on work they can do and shielding corporations from liability when those irresponsible pre-teens accidentally lose a finger. It also now allows 16 year olds to serve alcohol. 

Upon passage of the bill, Grinnellians celebrated across campus. The administration, while generally against student interests, agreed on the benefits of the bill. When asked for a comment, Human Resources Coordinator Startum Jung said, “The new law will allow us to improve Grinnell College for everyone. We can lower the wages of the professors so their kids will have to work to support their families and that will help us restaff D-hall and destroy this impetuous Union. Wait, that was off the record, you can’t report that. If you report that, your precious single in East might just become a forced quad in James. YOU UNDERSTAND! Good, now back on the record. This new bill will help create a new generation of industrious Grinnellians to exploit for their great work ethic.” 

After the interview, we let the administrator snack on one of our underperforming interns and talk about what stocks to invest in. Apparently FTX and Theranos are performing great right now. 

A surprising supporter of the new legislation is the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW). The B&S was going to track a representative down and question them about this uncharacteristic opinion. But as soon as we thought about it, a representative materialized in our office and started interrogating our interns about their working conditions. After punishing the interns for insubordination, the B&S grilled the Union about their unexpected approval of the new child labor laws. 

“Well, we believe in protections for workers, so the loss of liability for companies that injure children on the job was not our favorite inclusion,” said the representative. “But overall, the bill is great! It will allow a new generation of workers to join the workforce earlier, which means a new generation that will join the Union. The younger the recruits, the easier to radicalize. And as working conditions get worse, support for unions grows, so this will help the union’s approval ratings. Plus more workers means more Union members to help us fight the College’s greed.” 

We offered the UGSDW member a free intern to eat, but they seemed disgusted and disappeared in a flash of union pamphlets. 

We also hoped to figure out more about the general student body’s support for the bill. We sent some interns to Kink Gardner, but they came back gagged and whipped with no real information. 

Since we were running out of time, we found a random participant in Relays: Tom Petroleum ’23. He might have been severely inebriated, but that’s probably an accurate sample of the average Grinnellian. When asked about his opinion on child labor laws, Tom responded with an emphatic “Wooh, yeah! Fuck George Bush!”

When asked to elaborate, he just puked on the ground and wandered off, mumbling about hanging chads. Luckily, his teammate Emma Nem ’23 was less drunk, and was able to give a statement when Tom collapsed in the bushes. “I mean yeah, child labor laws are great, but like I hear that Lyle’s Pub and Bob’s Underground are gonna reopen now that they can hire cheaper 16 year old labor and like alcohol beats safety, right?” Emma stumbled off with Tom to do whatever they do at relays. 

So in a time of division, this new bill has united Grinnell. Its support might draw from different reasons, but this bill will certainly be a great success for Iowa. Better yet, it appears that the policy will spread to other states. As of writing, Ohio, Missouri and Arkansas are all in the process of passing similar bills in a nationwide push to put children to work. After all, the most popular game for years has been Minecraft—clearly the children miss the mines. Little things like being legally excused from workers’ comp shouldn’t hinder those dreams.