L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 71, May 8, 2000
Nasty, Brutish, and Short
Reply to TLE@johntaylor.org
WE OUGHT TO LICENSE THEM THE WAY WE DO CARS
"Of course, it seems like a radical thing to do. Right now such a step would be politically unpopular. If enough people really understood the situation, however, the merit of the idea would be evident. We recently witnessed a dramatic shift in the public attitude toward smoking as people became informed about its adverse effects. A similar shift could occur in our attitude toward incompetent parenting, which has an even greater impact on the quality of all of our lives.
"Whether we like it or not, the freedoms available to individuals in the United States necessitate regulation. Persuasion and education are not enough to ensure that everyone will behave responsibly. Without the rule of law our society would be in chaos. In our democratic republic the freedom of one person to act inevitably impinges on the freedom of another person. As a result, we license everything people do that affects other persons and children are persons.
"Licensing parents would convey the message that parenting is at least as important as marriage, driving a motor vehicle, military service, voting, and all other social responsibilities for which we set standards. I hope that most everyone would agree that parenting is even more important than any of those activities."