"Child Support" in the true sense (was Re: 6 fucked-up

Michael M. Butler (butler@comp*lib.org)
Sat, 23 Aug 1997 21:10:17 -0700

><< Lots of things can be argued, but the notion that children, arbitrarily
> defined, are either chattel of the parents or chattel of the state, and
> that the former view "would have to be the libertarian position" is
> seriously troubling to me.
> >>
>Yep...lots of things can be argued...but it seems that they gotta be one or
>the other..saying that they "own themselves"...yet are "wards of the state"
>or "wards of their parents" is a bit contradictory isn't it?

I didn't say they "own themselves"--but I am not positive they don't.

OK, first, some background:

I consider myself principled (these days), and one of the principles I try
to maintain is the non-initiation of force or violence. This doesn't make
me a pacifist, of course--non-initiation is distinct from non-employment.
It does mean that if I'm ever again in loco parentis, I'll do all I can to
keep from using corporal punishment, especially the severe kind. I wince
when I see people who've clearly screwed up in that regard, and are
programming their kids to be poor at handling their lives--but I don't
scoop them up and rescue them, because I *can't*. This doesn't mean I don't
feel the urge. And it doesn't mean I'm holier-than-those parents, and it
doesn't mean there aren't some kids (boys, probably) who don't "need" a
"touch of the hickory" to "get their attention"--I just hope I never have
to raise one. That may be a foolish hope; perhaps some day I'll find that out.

>Seems that's why the name "children"...when one ceases to be of that category
>then one is responsible for(i.e. "owns") oneself. The boundry of that
>classification being defined by culture, law etc.

"culture, law etc." covers a lot of ground. In Rome it was permissible to
put one's slave to torture or death. Yet in Rome a slave could buy his
freedom; this almost never happened in the antebellum South.

My point is, in part, that the boundary of that classification remains
badly defined.

Me, I'd like to see a world where a person of any age could qualify for
full adulthood--_all rights, all the time, all at once_... but I don't see
that in the cards. If it were, kids with sufficient motivation could
qualify to move out of a hellhole (if _THEY_ thought that was what it was)
and move into, say, a special youth-hostel-style quasi-commune-condo
(commercially run at a profit, naturally) to continue their own maturation
minus the hell. Now that's what *I* call child support.

As I said, I don't see that in the cards--and I don't know how such a
system could be fairly administered via The State, which currently *does*
intervene inappropriately and monopolistically.

>My position is that it's none of my business what someone else does...with
>his dog..his property...or his children...however reprehensible or noble it
>may be...as long as I have no responsibility...am not damaged....then I have
>no authority..and would be well advised to mind my own business.

I think I understand where you're coming from. I too tend to prefer minding
my own business.
However, by your logic, every one of those 3 million you mentioned earlier
in this thread is "none of your business". I'm not trying for a cheap
rhetorical point, here, I'm trying to point out that it's a serious matter,
and as I said, sticky...

>I and society...have no moral athority to intervene. The most I can do is
>disapprove....and/or disassociate myself with that person and his
>activities....I think the Jews used a technique...shunning....towards similar
>ends....in times past.

So did some of the Romans toward other Romans who mistreated their slaves.
It only has any effect when reputation matters.

I say I _have_ some moral obligation (not "authority") to intervene if
things are bad enough.
I say that because I feel that children are not just property, they're
people-in-training, cadet people, and because if I were a kid in some
circumstances I would _want_ a third party to rescue me, to "steal me" from
my "rightful owners". But I'm not sure where the line is. And I'm not in
favor of delegating the action to some faceless civil servant acting under
color of a spurious authority.

Consider the following two cases:

I recall a situation where two sub-teen boys beat and eventually mangled
(using a railroad train) a younger boy. Somewhere in all that, the
four-year-old victim died. Before that, he was in obvious distress in front
of witnesses, none of whom intervened. Since all three are someone else's
child, I take it it should be none of my business should I see such a thing
happen--barring of course shunning the parents? Or, since they were not
fully human, would it be appropriate for me to shoot the 9-year-old and the
7-year-old out of hand, the way I might a pair of feral dogs?

More directly: there was the case of the woman who strapped her two kids in
the car and sent the car on a little swim, because she had the impression
that they were the only thing standing in the way of her relationship with
a man who wasn't sure he was ready to be a father. If the kids were her
property, ditching the car is the same as ditching the car plus kids,
right? Property is property.
Then again, by rights of salvage, once she abandoned them, anyone who
rescued or recovered them would be their owner, right?

><<<If you have responsibility then you must have authority to enforce the
>necesities of that responsibility...the two are coupled. The current
>situation is de-coupled...as a result it's all screwed up>>
>Any other position puts me in a position of
>(superiority/authority:responsible for his actions) over that person...Slave
>Owner...which I am not and don't intend to be...

Unless you procreate? Sorry, that's a cheap shot.

>however much some beg to be
>owned. Nor do I enjoy BEING owned...as is the current state of
>affairs...hopefully the advancing technology will continue the age-old trend
>of diminishing the power of the state....(slavers).relative to that of the
>populance (slaves)

Here we are "in violent agreement".

My point remains that children are a tough one to be single-principled
about, for me, anyway... and there are some people who _aren't_ fit to be
parents... and I continue to wish I could do something about it. I'm _not_
saying I want the _state_ to do something about it. It boils down to "am I
my brother's keeper?"... and the answer that comes to me is "it depends".
And I wish it didn't, because it would make my life easier.

Now, if duelling were legal, someone who cared could call bad parents
out... ( 1/2 :) )

One can conceive of an explicit contract-based system of genuine "child
support" in the true sense, with potential parents agreeing to binding
arbitration if their kids object to the way they're being brought up, but I
don't know how well it'd catch on--what's the parent's motivation? IMO,
this turns out to have some connection with the "when is it all right to
abuse an AI?" thread.


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