Often, while I am reading books or articles, I notice that the author is accidentally making a Libertarian argument or at least the argument they are making is compatible with libertarianism. This article is a case of finding parallels to libertarianism in other areas of life.
I recently started learning about the concept of boundaries in relationships through the boundaries series by John Townsend and Henry Cloud. While reading about parenting with boundaries I started to pick up on some major themes. The main two that we will be discussing are:
Natural consequence parenting
Freedom through choices parenting
I realized that much of the language used when talking about relational boundaries could easily be applied to the political, economic, and public spheres of the adult world. Just like a good parent allows the child to learn from consequences and have freedom in choice, so a good government allows the same things. Thus, a healthy government looks like a healthy parent.
In order to have mature citizens, the government must let their citizens go into debt and/or buy things they regret buying. This allows them the dignity of choice, and it has a built-in mechanism to discourage bad choices, namely pain. The boundaries with kids book put it like this:
“You are letting them (your kids) choose, but making the law of sowing and reaping have reality. If they sow to irresponsibility, they will reap pain.”
If the government swoops in order to try and block this pain, they will be numbing them to their own irresponsibility, aka keeping them from learning from failure in the school of hard knocks. It would be like responding to someone being hurt by touching fire by turning off the nerves that indicate you are damaging their skin. This would not help them to learn the lesson that touching the fire is bad for them, they would not have the painful memory of touching it in the past, and until they have that memory, they will think that it is not causing them damage. In the book, they put it like this. “Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.”
So, in order to know what the role of the government is, we need to look no further than the first authority figure in a person's life, namely their parents. All the government’s good intentions take away their freedom in choosing and do not allow for the natural cycle of consequences do its work when the government intervenes through things like: the welfare state, military nation building, and drug criminalization. They are attempting to block the immediate problem by taking away the immediate consequences.
They are taking away the learning that comes naturally to all humans through pain. This leads to a multilayered set of unintended consequences of dependency and entitlement that cripples those it tries to help, just like helicopter parents create dependency and entitlement in the painless bratty child. It says to a person, “I know walking can be hard, don't worry, you don't need to walk, just sit in this wheelchair here, and we will make sure you are able to get around.” It does not care if you will be able to walk again years down the road. Or if you desired to walk again, how hard it would be to train your legs to walk if they never really learned it. All the muscles and everything else that goes into walking would be weak and unreliable. They respond to this concern with the pat answer of, “No, but the good news is that you will never need to because we will always be nearby, waiting to take you wherever it is you want to go.”
A major example of this is the early freed African American slaves. They could have easily asked the oppressive white man to “put them around the wheelchair” as a kind of penance. Instead, they wanted to hobble on their own two feet and were thankful for the opportunity to finally get walking, even though it was going to be hard for a while. When blacks were first freed, the white former slave owners were trying to figure out what was best for the formerly enslaved blacks to get them to the place where they could stand as equals to the white man and every other freed people group, for that matter. A famous African American slave put the feelings of the people like this:
“‘What should we do with the Negro?’ said Douglass. ‘I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree with their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall. . . And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs!’”
If newly-freed slaves wanted to learn from natural consequences and have the freedom of choice, even though they were starting to walk very late as a people, then there is no excuse for the government to take that away today. As parents, we have our little citizens of our familial kingdom, and we have been appointed as governor over our little subjects. The same principles that allow adults to flourish under a free market system and free ideological world are the same ones that are best for parenting. What a coincidence. Who would have thought it?
Tim is a Christian author. His worldview that informs his writing is Calvinist, Baptist, and Libertarian. His main series is his Christian picture book series, "About God for Kids", where he discusses the attributes of God in a way kids can digest. He also wrote a Christian Romance novel, libertarian book for beginners, and Christian coloring books. He graduated with a Bachelor's in Biblical Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He has written a book on freedom called “Are You Free” (If you are into listening to books I have it in audio also, Are You Free Audiobook )and he has written multiple children’s books about God. Be Sure to check out the podcast version of the blog, Labor for Truth Podcast. And check out “The Truth About” Youtube Channel. You can find his works at his amazon author page, https://amazon.com/author/timbankes. He even has a free digital ebook on how God is the creator. Get your free copy today at, Greater Creator .Also If you are into Christian Fiction, he has made his first book in his Futuristic Christian Fiction series free, Her Dying Wish
Some of my other favorite books on these subjects that are great for beginners to the liberty movement are:
Free to Choose by Milton Friedman (Major Economist)
Basics of Economics by Thomas Sowell (Major Economist)
Called to Freedom by Elise Daniels (Christian Perspective)
The Libertarian Theology of Freedom by Edmund Opitz (Christian Perspective)