While most Christian parents would say that they believe they
are responsible for the care and upbringing of their children, in some
ways they do not live as if they believe that. Whoa, pretty broad
statement–let me explain.
Walter Williams’ newest column
started me thinking about who is responsible for our children. He
discusses the war on Christmas and the war on smoking in the context of
private property rights, liberty, and the abuse of the political
process to impose tyranny. How does he go from those issues to children?
institution of private property offers the liberty-oriented solutions
to both the school prayer and the smoking issues. I believe it’s a
parental right to be able to decide whether one’s child will, or will
not, say a morning prayer. Conflict emerges because of government-
produced education. While there might be an argument for government
financing of education, there’s absolutely no argument for government
production of education. Therefore, if each parent were given an
education voucher to pay for education, those parents wishing prayers,
or those against prayers in school, could enroll their children in the
school that meets their preference. Thus, conflict would be eliminated.
Of course, a superior solution would be getting government entirely out
Of course, most Americans believe it is the
parents who are, or should be, responsible for their children. But
children require feeding, caretaking, training and civilizing,
clothing, housing, educating, and loving. A parent who accepts
government assistance to feed, clothe, house, or babysit their children
(through welfare) does not live the belief that it is the parent who is
responsible for their children. They are allowing another party to
shoulder child-rearing responsibilities.
And those who have
the responsibility, also have the power: if the government is assuming
the responsibility of feeding someone’s children, then the government
also has the power to say that those children must not have sweets or
soda, or must have five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
the case of food stamps, the responsibility-power connection is not
well-defined. In the case of education, however, it is much more so.
Public education allows an outside party, the government, to shoulder
the child-rearing responsibility of education. Thus, the government
gains power to determine what that education will and will not consist
of. Parents who protest explicit [s-x] ed content, or the exclusion of Christmas carols
from the “Holiday” music program, do so because they intuitively
understand that they, as parents, have the right to determine these
matters for their children. But they do not understand that they have
voluntarily relinquished that right to the government when they
accepted the government subsidy of their child’s education by sending
them to the public schools.
But, someone will say, I do not
expect the government to pay for my child’s education; I pay for it
myself through taxation. Yes, a completely deplorable state of affairs
inconsistent with the principles of liberty and individual
responsibility. For now you pay for–assume the responsibility of–that
over which you have relinquished power.
to be continued …