Kids on the Job

Jackie Hackman steers her blue van into a north Houston Subdivision. The eight teen-age passengers start spilling out.Hackman hands each youngster a blue hamper filled with candy boxes and kitchen utensils to sell."Make me proud, guys," she shouts enthusiastically as the youth set out along tree-lined streets. Hackman, a 35-year-old single mother of two, founded Texas Teens in Action in 1989. She contracts with teenagers 14-18 to sell candy and small housewares door-to-door for $ 5 each. Hackman is proud of her business and monitors her youthful sales workers to make sure they maintain passing grades in school. She dispenses motherly advice to her charges along with sales tips and encouragement. The business has a complaint-free ...[read more]

In Defense

Just the other day, hard-eyed federal cops descended on young Lawbreakers all across America. Their crime wasn't drugs or gang warfare or even shoplifting. It was work. Given the number of bums infesting our cities, one might assume a Republican administration would not attack work. One would be wrong. Labor Secretary Elisabeth Dole- wife of Senator Bob (R-IRS)- is a pal of big labor, an institution which really ought to be called big anti-labor. Unions use violence and government-granted privileges to get more money for less work. As part of this effort, they seek to outlaw the competition-newer people who might work harder or for market wages. At the behest of Mrs. Dole and the unions, President Bush...[read more]

Youthful Salesmen

After six weeks of selling Candy door-to-door, Donna Baker has saved $80 for a 10-speed bicycle.She needs another $15 - " I'm going for one of the high-priced ones" - and the 13 year old figures to earn it by the end of the summer.Donna and 43 other teen-agers make 50 cents a box for the cookies, candies and candles they sell for Mid-America Teens. The remainder of the $2.50 price is paid to their crew managers and to the company, Mid-America Teens. Gary Bryan, an Iowa native, started the group in April as Great Plains Youth Inc. in Wichita. The name was changed when Bryan discovered another group in Nebraska used it."It's not a social group," Bryan said. "We're out to make money."The salesmen are told to explain...[read more]

Civil Rights Lawyer

According to state officials, Oakland Attorney David K. Hicks is a perjurer, a nut and a front man for an accused racketeer, and is trying to cheat taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. To Hicks' friends, the 47-year-old lawyer is like a character from an Ayn Rand novel: a decent, principled man who simply defended the rights of inner-city kids to earn some money selling candy door to door and who has been driven to the brink of ruin by vengeful bureaucrats ever since. Hicks, president-elect of the Alameda County Trial Lawyers Association, seems neither demon nor saint. But he swears that he will never give up his fight, even though he says it has caused him "a thousand humiliations." Aside from the fact...[read more]


Children are the new undocumented workers. That's how it seemed last week, as the U.S. Labor Department conducted a nationwide crackdown on employers of children, including Burger King and door-to-door candy merchants. Thinking about this sweep, I remembered my own experience, at age 13, working as a door-to-door Watkins Product sales kid - offering pure vanilla extract, the only sneezeless pepper. I can still feel that aluminum case in my hand, ringing the doorbell.... "Madam, we're giving away free samples today...." "Well, I, busy...." "Would you like the shampoo or the cream rinse?" "Oh, well, I guess the cream rinse." By the time they've made the choice, you're ...[read more]