Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who Owns The Kids?

Here is some musical accompaniment to entertain you while reading this blog.

Recently, Paul Reville, the former secretary of education for Massachusetts and a Common Core supporter publicly asserted that “the children belong to all of us”.  I’m sure this came as news to many American parents as well as kids who did not know that they were “owned” let alone community property.

If it be true that everyone owns the kids, then no one owns the kids.  American kids are fast becoming the next victim of the Tragedy of the Commons.   This is the social principle that when private ownership is absent, the populace will pillage a common resource without maintaining or replenishing it, hence, destroying it.  This tragedy has replayed itself over and over again in publicly held forests, fisheries, grazing lands and housing projects.  Precious resources are squandered and destroyed.

Privately held goods are most likely to be well maintained because it is in the owner’s interest to protect his assets and investments.  He suffers the loss when they are degraded.

The truth is that children are sovereign individuals who belong only to themselves or, if you are religious, to the God that created them.  They “belong” to no other human being.  Self ownership traces its roots at least as far back as John Locke in the Seventeenth Century.  This principle underlies our Founder’s commitment to “unalienable” rights to individual “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

However; because children are not yet physically, emotionally or intellectually able to cope in the adult world, they are traditionally remanded to the “custody” of their parents or other elders of their families.  As defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, custody is “the act of protecting or taking care of something”.  This is the polar opposite community ownership which exploits and destroys that which it possesses.

As we said however, children are not owned by their families.  If families do not actually own their kids, what then might be their motivation in caring for the children in their custody?

That would be called “love”.  Love, as was once defined on the radio by James MacDonald, is the willful act of putting the well being of another ahead of yours.  Love is what sends the fireman into the building to rescue the trapped kids.  Love is what makes a soldier take a bullet for his buddies.  Love is what Jesus did on the cross when He died for the sins of others.

Love is something that the state does not do.  Love is something that does not compute for the bureaucratic, legalistic and one-size-fits-all controlling statist psyche.  That’s because the collectivist sees only statistics, aggregates, composites and models.  He does not see people.  People are individuals and only living, thinking and feeling individuals can love and be loved by another individual.

Because loving parents want the best for their offspring, more and more are rejecting zip code monopoly schools and top-down mandates like Common Core.  Instead they are embracing school choice in ever greater numbers.  The desire to do what is best their kids is driving parents of all political persuasions, economic  strata and ethnic identities to demand educational options for their precious children.

So, we return the opening question, “who owns the children?”  The answer is, they own themselves and they are best cared for by parents who know them, love them and know what is best for them.   Collectivists throughout history have fought to take child raising out of their parents’ hands.  When she was First Lady, Hilary Clinton tried to convince America of the wisdom of this approach in her book, It Takes a Village. The title is drawn from an African proverb on child rearing.

Hmmm.  How’d that work out for Africa? 

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