Posted by Charity on March 26th, 2007

The other evening at dinner, I was complaining about yet another erosion of our freedom – I can’t recall which one; there are just so many these days – and my 8-year-old son said that laws that keep us safe are a good idea. In an effort to avoid the unpleasantness of a future liberal in the family, I asked him to give me an example.

He said that seatbelt laws were good because seat belts keep us from flying out of the window in a car accident.

I said, “Well, remember that commercial that says that kids should ride in a booster seat until they are 4′9″? Should they make that a law?”

“No. That would be stupid!” (He’s not yet 4′9″, but he is over 8 years old, the age up to which Vermont requires a booster seat.)

“Why? It would keep you safer, like the commercial said, and you just said that laws that keep us safe are good.”

“Yeah, they are, but that law would be stupid?”

“Why?”

[Silence]

“Why? Because you don’t want to have to sit in a booster?”

“Yes,” he reluctantly replied.

“So how do you decide what safety laws to make? If you don’t want someone telling you that you have to ride in a booster seat, why do you have the right to tell someone else what to do to keep them safe?”

At which point he brilliantly concluded, “I guess I don’t.”

We all talked about it for a while longer, including my husband and my 10-year-old son. The kids came to the conclusion that laws that keep us safe from other people hurting us are okay, but that we really don’t have the right to make laws just to try to keep people safe from getting themselves hurt.

7 Responses to “How to Raise Libertarian-Minded Children”

  1. Cool. So you agree that recreational marijuana should be legal !!

    And gay individuals and couples should be treated equally to everyone else !!

    Nice !!

  2. Actually, Charity probably does agree with those things. Her libertarianism, although often guided too much by the myth of the Orgasmic Splendor of The Inherient Good NAture of Freemarket Fundamentalism, is the one area she’s consistent.

  3. also, no drinking age, legalized prostitution and legalized gambling.

    Wahoo!!

  4. But wait, the black-market trade of prohibited drugs/gambling/prostitution is like a libertarian utopia; the only regulation is from market-forces not government.

    Black-markets are ruthless, government is also ruthless.
    Why can’t we find a middle?

    Take those seat-belt laws… they definitely save lives; But they are also a government intrusion on a personal decision. I like the Vermont approach: You’re technically obligated to wear your seatbelt but the law is written to leave it up to the individual.
    (you can’t be pulled over for not wearing your seat-belt.)

    Fundamentalism is just a dangerously simplistic way of looking at things whether you’re talking about politics, religion, or anything else.

  5. I think seat belts laws for kids are ok, as are other protection laws like that. Little kids can’t alwys make the smartest choices. I just don’t like laws that penalize adults for things kids might do.

  6. Does this mean that Charity believes in doctor assisted suicide?

    It should be my choice, right??

  7. “Little kids can’t alwys make the smartest choices.” No, that’s what parents are for – not government.