PostHeaderIcon An Interesting Question

I have lately been reviewing the writings of John Stuart Mill, particularly On Liberty.

Mill proposes that a primary purpose of government is to prevent individuals from harming other individuals, and, when prevention fails, to impose appropriate punishment.

IMHO, our founding documents are totally compatible with this notion, even though common implementation often falls short of the stated goals.

Stated simply, each individual should be allowed, indeed, has a natural right, to live their life as they personally see fit, doing (or not doing) whatever they think best for their own purposes – so long as they are not harming others in the process.

Do any of you disagree with this concept? Do any of you think that this should NOT be a central tenant of our laws?

Assuming that you agree, then please allow me to raise my “Interesting Question”.

When I mention the notion of “harming others”, our first instinct is to think of overt actions intended to cause harm. Yet, there are myriad ways of causing harm, many of them resulting from things that were not done, from actions that were not taken.

In particular, I am thinking of the harm done to the young by those who caused them to be born and/or established themselves as their “official caretaker” (parent).

We have a large and very vocal group among us who insist on certain rights for those who have been conceived but are not yet born (the so called “abortion issue”). But, what about those who have been born? Do not those who caused their conception and birth (or who have voluntarily assumed parental status over them) have some very clear legal responsibilities toward these young lives?

I imagine most of you will agree that the young have a right to be physically cared for: fed, clothed, housed, etc. I submit that these young have an equal right to be emotionally and mentally cared for as well. Is it not a harm to fail to provide these young with the basic skills and knowledge required to function, at least minimally, in the society in which they will live as supposedly free adult individuals?

It is my firm opinion that those who assume parental duties, especially through the act of reproduction, have a legal responsibility to provide the minimal physical, emotional and mental support necessary to produce an adult person who is able to enjoy the fruits of individual freedom (obviously baring some unavoidable disability).

To be more clear, I think society in general has a legal responsibility to demand that such parenting be done and such needs be met, with appropriate punishments inflicted when it is not.

Further, I think that the current policy of rewarding people for producing offspring that they have no intention of properly parenting makes criminals of us all because we are accessories to repeated criminal acts.

How about this instead: if you bring children into the world then neglect them, the children are put into foster care and you are forced to labor, the fruits of which are then seized and used in support of the children?

The notion that we humans have the right to reproduce willy-nilly then leave the results to be seen to by society in general – or not seen to at all – is beyond inhumane.

Think about it – then offer your own thoughts in response.

Troy L Robinson

9 Responses to “An Interesting Question”

  • Larry Andrew says:

    Your premise is right on. Not sure about appropriate societal sanctions however. The federal child support system executed at the State level serves to find and force absent parents to provide financial support if resources can be identified. It is very effective for those that work and have assets but does not deal with societal misfits that aren’t readily identifiable.

    The effect of child abandonment falls mostly on single mothers and their support is where most of our welfare, job training, child care, child health and other funds goes. How to weed out the abusers of the system is a tough issue to solve completely.

    I think we need to provide more flexibility to states to design systems that work for them with some federal minimum standards that are intended to avoid state shopping otherwise all the hangers on would move to NY and California…lol.

    In sum, your views are valid and represent a part of our societal thinking process in designing the current programs, altho many would question the effectiveness of their implementation.

  • Larry Andrew says:

    In further response, we need to somehow instill a sense of responsibility into the male side of our citizenry to make it more clear the extent of the responsibility they take on when having kids. Male child abandonment is a scourge we have not resolved. Having toiled within the vineyards of local government I have been exposed to the incredible commitments most of our young women accept as a normal part of their role of single mothers. Just wish I could suggest some effective ways of transferring the same level of commitment to the fathers who just walk away.

    • Jeannine Daigneault says:

      You’re right, male child abandonment is a tough nut to crack…..wait, I think I have an idea!

      Seriously, there are thousands of fathers who have been arrested for non-support of their children, yet it doesn’t seem to stop. And with all the birth control methods available today (no asking the pharmacist to get something behind the counter for you), it’s still a wonder to me why we have all these unwanted pregnancies and children. I don’t have an answer other than teaching by example, and sadly the young folks today don’t have many role models to follow.

      • As a male and an incurable romantic J9, I have spent a fair amount of time endeavoring to rescue damsels in distress, so please indulge me the opportunity to make a few politically incorrect observations from those experiences. First I will assert that absentee fatherhood is by no means always the male’s fault.

        Randy young men are often thoughtless beasts , biologically inclined to broadcast their genes far and wide, with as many females as possible. Aside from the occasional brutal physical rape, like most sentient animals, it is the female who chooses a mate and decides if and when coitus occurs. Even then, as you suggest, if her motive is sport rather than motherhood, effective methods to prevent pregnancy are readily available and ultimately the female’s responsibility to insure they are employed. As they say, what she does with her own body is her choice to make. 🙂

        I submit that these pregnancies and children of unwed mothers are not entirely unwanted, especially in the ghettos. Basically, these days welfare queens are most often liberated from their parents’ home not by getting a job or marriage; but by simply getting pregnant. Then they get an apartment of their own, food stamps, and a monthly welfare check for expenses. Once on the dole, they automatically get a pay raise for every additional child they manage to add to their brood.

        Thanks to government regulations, they are not ‘entitled’ to these ‘benefits’ if they allow a father of their children to even reside with them, much less try to help support them. Ghetto dwelling men are thus doing their ‘bitches’ actively trying to get pregnant a favor, without incurring any liabilities for recreational sex (at least none that a shot of penicillin available at the free clinic won’t cure). Since they are effectively exonerated from any of the usual responsibilities of heading a family, they are often openly boastful of how many kids they have spawned in the neighborhood, without experiencing a twinge of the normal love and pride of fatherhood.

        Nor are these children unwanted by the government bureaucrats paying for their upkeep. They know that they are breeding lots more reliable Progressive voters, while Conservative voters are not even replacing themselves. When added to the current massive immigration of prolific third world breeders, demographically the Democrat’s future looks rosy indeed.

        To continue the theme of defending at least some hapless males, even in our day an otherwise respectable young woman deliberately getting pregnant as a ploy to ‘trap’ a man was common. I have reason to suspect that it still is.

        Then, a real tragedy I have observed far too often among modern young married women of my acquaintance (both employees and customers of my Montessori preschool) would have been very rare in our day. In today’s social climate, a girl who gets married young, even to a really nice guy who is a good provider and excellent father, can feel trapped in a boring marriage, when their single friends are having such a good time partying with an exciting crowd.

        Our contemporaries would have considered themselves fortunate to have a good provider and father to their children, and soldiered on for their sake. Lacking any moral stigma or meaningful financial distress for doing so, modern women have little compunction about joining the ranks of single motherhood, for the perceived benefits of a single life on the wild side. Alas, drug and/or alcohol abuse is too often a significant component of such irrational behavior.

        On the other hand, some guys are just jerks, and ought to have their nuts cracked… but, please, not all of us. 🙂 â—„Daveâ–º

    • Larry, how many fathers who had actually lived and bonded with their children, then just selfishly ‘walked away’ without cause, would be an interesting statistic. I suspect that without the government safety net and/or the self-sufficient status of modern high earning career women, it would even be far fewer than it now is. I have known many young fathers who were devastated by their wife’s decision to leave and take their demonstratively beloved children with her. See my comments to Jeannine above. â—„Daveâ–º

  • Sorry guys, I just cannot venture down that slippery slope with you.

    First, although I somewhat concur with your initial premise, I would prefer to use the term ‘aggression’ rather than ‘harm,’ since (as you point out) the latter is a rather subjective term. Beyond the non-aggression principle, some of your other premises fail to persuade me. I would agree that those who breed or voluntarily adopt children, have a moral responsibility to care for them and prepare them for adulthood. However, converting that into a codified legal responsibility is problematic.

    Who gets to decide what is legally acceptable parenting and what is not? It would not surprise me if a majority of citizens regard a parent failing to send children to Sunday school, and teaching them to love Jesus, as a type of child abuse. What if they somehow managed to make it illegal?

    In my own case, I have often suggested that sending a child to the indoctrination centers known as public schools, is a particularly egregious form of child abuse. Yet, there are many laws mandating it, with serious sanctions for parents who fail to comply. Why are politician and public school teacher’s opinions any more valid than mine? Who decides and by what process?

    I believe that it is immoral to ever lie to a child, including inculcating such unsubstantiated myths as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and yes God. Should I wish this to be also illegal? What would happen if somehow it was?

    I have often lamented that my libertarian principles fall completely apart when the subject of children arises. What actual business is it of mine, how the sovereign in the castle next door raises his children? No matter how egregious I personally thought his child abuse (however defined) might be, where would I get the right to summon armed government agents to interfere with his parental prerogatives? Who’s children are they, anyway?

    In extreme cases of physical abuse, I might decide to shoot the SOB myself; but I could never sanction the government to do so if he resisted. I have at least as much compassion for the plight of children as anyone else; but empowering government agents to enforce laws regarding how best to raise children is a very slippery slope, which is fraught with danger for the cause of Liberty.

    It is always a good idea to keep in mind that arguments regarding a burden on society occasioned by an individual not ‘doing the right thing,’ usually entail a self-inflicted collective feel-good burden. Poorly raised children only become a burden on society, because we allow their welfare to concern us. Only because our society deems free medical care somehow a human right, do the do-gooders get away with passing laws mandating helmets and seat-belts.

    Suggesting that public education or any other collective ‘benefit’ saves money in the long run, only applies in a welfare state where the indolent get fed by the industrious, no matter what. I reject all such premises that so-called society owes an individual (of any age or condition) anything, other than Liberty to live his life as he chooses to live it. â—„Daveâ–º

    • Troy says:

      Then the alternative, which I also do not object to, is to simply stay out of family conflicts and let the chips (and children) fall where they may.


      • That is my conclusion, especially when it comes to legal/government action. As I said, on a personal level I might find myself compelled to take immoral aggressive action in defense of a child on my own, if I regard the abuse egregious enough that I am prepared to face the consequences of getting caught doing so. â—„Daveâ–º

  • Troy says:

    Of course, this whole issue is directly related to another issue I ranted about several years ago — that of allowing wards of the state to vote. Since I made the earlier complaints, we have now complicated the situation further such that non-citizens now get to vote.

    Is there any question why the progressives want all those middle eastern “refugees” to come here? Perhaps excepting BHO who also wants them to attack us from within.


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