Do people “deserve” liberty?

By Nathan Barton

Do people “deserve” liberty? I have just been embroiled in a heartbreaking situation, one of a series. Without going into detail and thereby creating problems of privacy and decency, bear with me a minute.

An older married couple (late 50s) have three children: two are adult, married and with children – away from home. The third, a son, is sixteen and in all kinds of trouble: dealing in drugs and associating with gangs, and on parole for stealing and wrecking a car (owned by other members of the family). He is increasingly defiant and troublesome.

The family has been both very conservative politically and religiously. But the couple is in despair regarding their youngest. And just made the decision to surrender the care and control of this teenager… to the State. In what seems to be a complete betrayal of all their beliefs, which they have at least tried to adhere to in word and deed, for their entire lives, they intend to file for the abrogation of their “parental rights” (which are, of course, really parental powers) and allow the State and all its institutions and thugs to suck their child into the belly of the beast. A child who is already very troubled, has already been subjected to 11 or so years of “public school,” and needs love, help, and care – the very things which the State and its minions are totally unable to provide.

They are, of course, not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of parents – perhaps millions – who have surrendered their children to the tender mercies of the State. (Or had them stolen by the State.)  To the grinding abuse and neglect of highly-paid and completely-unqualified (by any REAL standard) bureaucrats of “Child Protective Services” and its sisters in every county of all Fifty States.

I realize that at age 16, this is no true child. By their own religious beliefs (if not in their hearts) he is a man, well past the age of accountability. By the rules of the State in which they live, he was just barely young enough to avoid being charged as an adult for his crimes. But by most modern standards, and thanks to society (reinforced by government) he is a “child.”

We rightfully condemn those parents in Roman and Medieval times who sold their children into slavery, either in payment of debt or for some other reason. This, if anything, is worse. Because the State as master, even for just two years, is worse in so many ways than having a man or woman – even of an immoral and abusive nature – as master.

The parents COULD have raised this young man in a far better way – they did fairly well with their older children. They clearly had the knowledge and experience to do so. Yet, they failed. They have already surrendered much of their parental responsibilities – and powers – to the teachers and staff of the government-ruined theft-funded schools, and before that to babysitters – excuse me, “child care providers.” And knowing something of their religious and personal life, probably to the teachers and preachers in their home church. Again despite the fact that they had the knowledge and experience to do better. But they did not have the will. They did not have the fortitude, the guts, to do the same thing with this child as with the first ones. They had the liberty – limited though it might have been in modern times as compared to what their own parents had in the 1960s and 1970s. They had the liberty to raise this child to be a human being, a responsible man. And failed to take advantage of that liberty and their knowledge and skill. They lacked the self-discipline (or discipline provided by a couple to each other) to do what they were obligated to do by bringing this young man into the world.

And they were not hindered by particularly poor health or lack of opportunity. While perhaps working class, they were not in poverty. They were not dwellers in the inner urban areas of ghetto or barrio. They are not a despised minority nor hated ethnic group. It was not their circumstances that can be used to justify their failure. It was their lack of will.

This raises in my mind the question, do these parents (and so many like them) really deserve the liberty they had to determine their lives and those of their children? Even more, do they really WANT the liberty they have, or do they want to surrender more and more of their will and their ability to make and carry out decisions to someone else? Like the State?

More generally, do people like this, who have liberty, give up their God-given right to that liberty when they refuse to use it? I’m not talking about using it wisely or not. I am talking about refusing to take responsibility, to refusing to take ANY action (good or bad) which they are not forced to take?

I think all of us procrastinate sometimes, refusing to make decisions and take actions that must be taken. And all of us often make wrong decisions. But at what level? To what degree? When do we tip the balance to such wanton irresponsibility that it is obvious that we do not want, do not deserve, liberty? When do we become such degenerate humans that we sell not just our children, but ourselves, into slavery? Clearly, when we voluntarily give up the responsibilities which we accepted by our actions – and when that responsibility is a CHILD, that level of degeneracy has been reached.  It sickens me.

Government, and the oligarchs, the politicians, the bureaucrats, the patrons – the powers that be – see no problem with that. They are willing to take up the slack (describing it as the “burden” they are wiling to take because they “love the people”). They are willing to provide the control that the people are unwilling to provide for themselves.

I, on the other hand, am neither willing to let the powers that be do that, and am  unwilling to help continue a system that does so and creates people – generation after generation – who do not want, and therefore, do not deserve liberty. However pitiful and scant, they want security and safety more than they want liberty and its blessings.

Mama’s Note: That is just so sad. I’ve watched the same thing happen in my own family, more than once. The last such “child” to be surrendered to the state is now dead, by his own hand. He never really had any chance to grow up, let alone to become a self owner.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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10 Responses to Do people “deserve” liberty?

  1. tpolnathan says:

    Yes, Dave, I DO believe that these parents shirked their responsibility to this youngster. And I also believe that they have MORE than shirked their responsibility if they go ahead with their plan to turn the teen over to the state: in essence divorce themselves from their offspring and wash their hands of the matter. I have little but disgust and loathing for ANY one who turns someone else over to the state, whatever their reason. And MORE disgust when it is the parents who brought the person into the world and through their own failings have created what they consider to be a monster. They are delinquent in their actions and their attitude. (I’m sure you are aware of Robert Heinlein’s thoughts on “juvenile delinquents” and their parents.) I am not saying that a child can turn bad despite the best efforts of their parents: that sadly does happen. But when the process of raising the child is short-circuited and terminated by the parents for their own convenience, it isn’t that much short of aborting the child before they are born. What a WONDERFUL way to teach that youngling responsibility, honor, and liberty!


    • Dave Kristopeit says:

      I have not read Heinlein. But in the little research I did on him after your reference above, I can find nothing about any children he may have had. So I am not sure if he is or is not an expert on raising children. I did find that he believed there is no such thing as juvenile delinquents – only adult delinquents. So the question in the case you mentioned becomes was this 16 year old boy a juvenile or an adult? And should the parents have had to “…turn the teen over to the state”? If the teen was adult, then the parents had every right to break relations with him, the state be damned, just like they would have been right to break relations with a neighbor that stole and wrecked their car.

      Did you know this family? If so that may explain why you are so adamant in believing in the guilt and failure of the parents. Maybe you have knowledge of the situation you have not relayed to us readers. If so, forgive me for questioning your belief that these parents shirked their responsibility. I may simply not have enough information to determine that. But let me reiterate, all children are different. You can be the best parent in the world and have a “bad” child.


      • MamaLiberty says:

        Dave, Dave…. I know one thing for sure. Nobody knows everything, “experts” usually are not – and having a child certainly doesn’t make the parents experts on child raising anyway. It is good to talk about these things to examine our own problems, tendencies and possible solutions, but it is not possible for any of us to solve the problems of others, even if we have a good idea what is going on or what happened.

        And, in my 70 years on this earth, I’ve found that there are very few perfect or absolute answers to anything. If we examine things in the light of our basic principles, and stick to improving ourselves rather than trying to fix the world for everyone, we’ll all be happier. In the long run, what others do is none of our business anyway.

        Give it a rest, will you? 🙂


      • Dave Kristopeit says:

        Mama, Thank you for your reply and you are right, I should have let it rest. But I was just a little upset over Nathan’s condescending comment, “I am sure you are aware of Robert Heblein’s comments….”. No I was not aware. As you said above, no one knows everything!


      • MamaLiberty says:

        No problem, Dave. I have enjoyed our discussion.


  2. Dave Kristopeit says:

    All I can say to that is – I have raised my 3 children to tell the truth (integrity), to not blame anyone else for their shortcomings (personal responsibility), and to never start a fight but they may fight back (Non Aggression), and each of them has responded to their nuturing in different ways.There is no formulaic way to raise children. You can be the best parent in the world and still have a problem child. And conversely, you can be the worst parent and have a great kid. Liberty and independence are important to me and to them. But it means different things to each of them. Right now my youngest son has a 2 yr old who was diagnosed with liver cancer a year ago. Since then that child has undergone chemo, radiation, and a liver transplant. He has needed lots of help and some of that help has come from Big Brother. My son has a good job with good insurance but the insurance has coverage limits that my grandson has exceeded many times over. If not for the medicaid coverage over and beyond what the carrier provides, his family (and probably mine) would have been financially ruined. So my son’s and his wife’s view of government and independence and liberty is a lot different than mine.

    Please don’t get me wrong. Philosophically I am with you and with Barton, Rose, and Lysander Spooner. But realistically I understand why some aren’t.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      Of course. I can understand why “some aren’t” too. Doesn’t change the truth. 🙂


    • Nathan says:

      Dear Sir:
      My comment about you reading Heinlein was not intended in any way to be condescending. I honestly do not know many (if ANY) lovers of liberty or anarchists or libertarians over the age of 30 or so who have not read many of the novels and short stories of Robert Heinlein. Unless I know otherwise, I just assume that virtually all of our readers are at least familiar with his works and the philosophy in them. Especially someone familiar with the likes of Lysander Spooner. Again, I was certainly NOT meaning to be condescending, and I apologize for coming across that way.
      Other than that, I will, like our esteemed publisher, refrain from further comment or response.


  3. Dave K says:

    I’m sorry, do you really believe these parents shirked their responsibility with this child? Do you really believe there is a formulaic way to raise children into responsible adults? Not all children are the same. Even twins have their own personalities. You say, “These parents could have raised this young man in a far better way.” What way is that? Please let all of us parents know.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      No idea if Nathan will respond.

      Yes, each individual on the planet is unique, and may develop in many ways that do not conform with their parents. A few things remain constant, however. Integrity, self responsibility and non-aggression are cardinal requirements for adult autonomy. Raising children to be independent, self responsible and honest are necessary requirements for individual liberty. A self destructive, dishonest and aggressive “child” would seem to present serious evidence that the essentials were not conveyed in the raising of that individual – however imperfectly they may demonstrate the required attributes.

      If the individual is allowed to be destructive, aggressive and mooching on others, being excused for this behavior for any reason, then liberty is not important to any of them. Do they “deserve” liberty? Not a question I would have asked myself, but that would depend on your definition of “deserve.”


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