Want to reduce the size and scope of government? Just create a new bureaucracy that will snatch babies from the arms of unlicensed mothers. This is not a parody. This is actually being proposed by Andrew Cohen at BleedingHeartLibertarians.com.
The article reads as though Stefan Molyneux had co authored it with Hillary Clinton. Cohen rightly points out that bad parenting is a rather serious problem. That bad parents can, and do, violate the rights of children, and that those children grow up to violate the rights of others. He then makes the leap to say that the solution to this problem is to make it a crime to raise a child without permission from government in the form of a license.
By Cohen’s reasoning, this would actually reduce the size and scope of government. As the theory goes, if parents were pre-approved by the State, there would be less need for intervention from agencies like CPS, or DCF, or whatever your jurisdiction calls the government approved child trafficking ring. The reduction in child abuse, and the reduced interference of State agents in the child’s life, would reduce crime, and thereby reduce the need for police and prisons. This reminds me of Zwolinski’s “libertarian” case for a basic income guarantee, the premise being that it would just be cheaper than the current welfare system.
This stems from Cohen’s adherence to John Stuart Mill’s “non-harm principle” which, despite the warm and fuzzy sound of it, is far from the libertarian standard of non-aggression. That which Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists would see as aggression, is perfectly permissible to bleeding heart eugenicists like Cohen, so long as it might possibly prevent some potential “harm” from being done some time in the future. So much more important is non-harm than non-aggression, that Mill thinks it’s perfectly fine for an entire race to live under despotism, so long as harm is reduced.
It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say that this doctrine is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties. We are not speaking of children, or of young persons below the age which the law may fix as that of manhood or womanhood. Those who are still in a state to require being taken care of by others, must be protected against their own actions as well as against external injury. For the same reason, we may leave out of consideration those backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage. The early difficulties in the way of spontaneous progress are so great, that there is seldom any choice of means for overcoming them; and a ruler full of the spirit of improvement is warranted in the use of any expedients that will attain an end, perhaps otherwise unattainable. Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion. Until then, there is nothing for them but implicit obedience to an Akbar or a Charlemagne, if they are so fortunate as to find one.
The problems with these types of ideas are absolutely limitless, and perhaps a longer piece addressing Mill directly is in order for the future.
For now, let us start off by pointing out the obvious fact that a government program is about as close as anything comes to immortality. To presume that licensing parents would abolish or significantly reduce the interference of agencies like CPS in the lives of families, is like presuming that the war on terrorism would reduce the “need” for the TSA and PRISM. What we’ve seen with every government program that purportedly sought to protect and free the people, has done the exact opposite. Why bleeding heart eugenicists pretend their parental licensing program would somehow be different is something that can only make sense in the twisted minds of said bleeding hearts. Perhaps somebody should bandage that wound, because it sounds like not enough blood is getting to the brain. The war on terrorism is nothing but an excuse to perpetually expand the security State, and there is no reason to expect licensing of parents would be any different.
Does a driver’s license do anything to limit the interference of government in your life? Of course not. It is exactly that license which government agents use as leverage and excuses in all manner of activity from threatening your life on the highway, to cashing your paychecks. Didn’t pay that fine? License suspended! Didn’t answer that letter? License suspended! License suspended? Pay a bunch of money and wait in line in a crowded government building full of screaming children, or we’ll put you in prison! (I bet those licensed parents wouldn’t let their children scream at the DMV though, so let’s forget about that part)
We can just imagine extending that kind of system into parenting, how much MORE involved CPS would be in the lives of families. At least now, there is a requirement for their involvement that some wrong be pointed out, and even then, we see millions of innocent people harassed and families broken up by the State. Imagine how much more that would be the case when the default position of government was that raising children was some kind of privilege doled out by the State. Late on your taxes? We’ll suspend your parenting license! Smoked a little weed? Give up your babies! One more drink than MADD approves of? Forced sterilization!
No doubt Cohen would respond “Hey, I’m not proposing any of that!” but since when was there some requirement for an out of control government program to first gain permission from the lunatic who proposed it? The “minarchist” delusion is exactly this, that you are somehow uniquely suited to decide who should be forced to do what, but you are so kind and wise that only your aggressions would be levied against your fellow man. All for the sake of preventing harm, of course, and at no time would a kind and just agency like the State go and abuse the powers you handed over to it. Right?
Government programs do not spring up around need, they spring up around propaganda, and a desire to control. Saying that parental licensing would reduce the need for CPS, is to presume that CPS was necessary in the first place. This is not the case. Pro government folks may feel some comfort in telling themselves that CPS serves some necessary function as it runs around kidnapping toddlers and filling them with psychotropic drugs, but this is no different than soldiers telling themselves that they are protecting freedom while they run around murdering strangers in foreign countries. It is precisely the same delusion as a police officer who kidnaps someone off the street for possessing drugs, and locks him in a cage for a decade, to protect that same individual from himself. These are no more services than are liquor store hold ups, or black bloc anticapitalists smashing the windows out of coffee shops. They are violent crimes, and anybody who would wear the label of libertarian, whether his heart be bleeding or functionally pumping blood to the brain, should treat them as such.
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