Saturday, July 14, 2012

State law and parenting – Another aura of moral legitimacy

According to the LA Times, the law says, “If a parent caused a child’s death through abuse or neglect, then the other children in that parent’s care can be made court dependents, and child welfare workers can remove them from their home.” In other words, if you screw up once in a big enough way, then the state will come along and isolate you from those who care most about you. The LA Times says it sounds logical, at first: “… if government ever is justified in taking children from their parents, that’s when it should be done.”

While the mainstream media tends to do the bidding of the rulers, often without realizing it, more and more people are waking up to the true nature of government as an organization that enjoys an unhealthy sanction to violate fellow citizens. We provide that sanction – the citizens – until we exhibit civil disobedience or take another road less traveled. The best civil disobedience is the violation of laws in order to maintain one’s ethics. Another road less traveled can be explored at the Fully Informed Jury Association, where the primary function of a jury, to judge the law, is spelled out.

Consider Mr. C from the LA Times article, who decided that getting his daughter to the hospital was more important than obeying the child-restraint laws. This is someone attempting to be a better parent than the state wants people to be. This is a man who is removing his sanction, at least to some degree. Now that the state has punished him for flaunting legislation by taking his remaining children from him, his obstinacy grows. He now argues “that the law could be used in absurd ways”, as if the loss of his living children isn’t already absurd.

The unnamed writer explains, “Yes, parents should use the proper car seats for their children.” “Proper” here can only mean “legal”, since Mr. C drove his 18-month old with a relative who held the baby in her lap. Relatives are apparently less proper child restraints than a “certified child safety seat”. Is there any insidious propaganda here? Perhaps not.

The last sentence has all the trimmings of excellent writing: “When the law confronts a parent with the possibility of losing his children regardless of the choice he makes, perhaps the problem is not with the parent, but with the law.” This seems logical and agreeable, at first. However, when the law does not confront a parent with such a dire possibility in such restrictive situations, the problem is still with the law. What is a law, after all?

A law in any realm other than legislation is a tool we use to invent and predict. Legislated laws are promoted as tools to invent and predict, but when the inventions and predictions prove more beneficial to the private sector than to the government, legislation changes.

Legislated law is inherently violent because it is useful only to the degree to which it will be enforced, either through implied threats, or positive violation of the rights of those who ignore it. When legislated law doesn’t need to be enforced, there is no use in creating it. A better approach in that case is to publish a whitepaper, or offer a seminar.

Who then, you might ask, has the right to tear a family apart when one of the parents is destructive to the rest of the family? If we don’t agree to let the group we call “the state” and its minions we call “social workers” do it, then no one would do it. Some people think that would be terrible, and that is because they lack faith in Mother Nature. When the illusion of security that blinds friends and neighbors is finally starved to death through rampant tax avoidance, the family with the destructive parent will find its own ways to heal. For now, we have one arm of a parasitic leviathan supporting that illusion, so we can ignore the destructive parent in peace… at least until some writer who dares to put his name on his writing stands out to remind us that the state is a parasite.

The social workers and the judge should be put on trial for taking this man’s children away from him. During that trial, some other facts not in this article, but in another, written by Maura Dolan, and referred to in a comment by “camorton”, would come to light:

“County social workers received a report a week later that Valerie’s siblings, Ethan, 3, and Jesus, 8 months old, were being neglected…. After more than a year in foster care, his children were returned to him after he took several parenting courses…. ‘This was a family that was greatly in need of social services,’ [Kim Nemoy, principal deputy county counsel] said.”

The report came from a person who may have attempted to get William C. to learn better parenting skills, or it may have come from someone who was tired of the screaming his two kids did. The state is a tool that can be used for all kinds of reasons, but it is the only tool that provides coercion as a means to achieve your ends. It’s also a crutch for those of us who like to be negligent in our neighborly relations.

Thanks to that coercion, there is no way currently to determine the market price of the intervention that (presumably) made this man’s parenting skills tolerable enough for the state to let him have his children back. The service it provided cost more than it would have if the private sector performed it. In CAPDM’s report, Government, Industry, and Privatization, the conclusion explains that “… and the trend towards privatization, have been accompanied by a considerable increase in productive efficiency.” This is tempered with a warning about “allocative inefficiency” that may have increased. This means not providing services people don’t want, and providing more of the services people do want.

The private sector, if left to its own, may not have performed the service at all. Many people think this would be terrible; but are they charitable enough to give up some or all of what they are currently paying in taxes in order to provide that service? It is a sickness specifically of democracy that people think a lack of service is terrible even when they wouldn’t pay for themselves, but on which they would happily spend other people’s money. Given the intractability of this disease of democracy, what is the best way to assess what is good parenting?

The answer will not appease those who look for easy solutions to implement. The problem lies in the framing of the question. For many people, it comes down to a choice between some body of parents, some appointed or elected body of government employees, or a mix between the two. In all cases, the decision is officially removed from the individuals closest to the situation. The best way to determine what is good parenting – or, rather, what parenting is bad enough to justify interfering – is up to you and everyone else close to a situation in which parenting skills are lacking. The multitude of answers and opinions will compete and cause disagreements and arguments, but everyone involved will take personal responsibility for their own interference.

This is natural, common, neighborly social interaction, and something that easy answers and monolithic solutions obviate to the severe (subtle, insidious, and persistent) degradation of society. This, in essence, is why states eventually fail. The answer is personal responsibility.

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