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You Be the Judge: When Should Government Be Allowed to Take Your Children?
Townhall.com ^ | December 31, 2013 | Daniel J. Mitchell

Posted on 12/31/2013 11:57:27 AM PST by Kaslin

As part of my “You Be the Judge” series, I periodically share stories that presumably create moral quandaries for libertarians and other advocates of limited government and individual liberty.

It’s not easy being libertarian!

Though I’ve been lax in this regard since my last iteration in the series was about drug legalization back in April.

Time to atone for this oversight. Today’s thorny topic deals with the reasons that government must provide before taking children from their parents.

We had an example of this type of quandary earlier in the year, which actually resulted in parents fleeing to Cuba.

Our new example comes from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Here are some details from a story in the UK-based Daily Express.

Britain’s obesity epidemic…sees NHS hospitals dealing with 1,000 cases every day… Increasingly social workers find youngsters being fed a high-fat, sugary diet, which can be just as bad for their health. The phenomenon is known as “killing with kindness” because the child craves the unhealthy food and a loving parent feels unable to say no. Professionals say they have to make complex decisions in care proceedings and a family’s gross over-eating can be one of the factors that leads to them losing their children. A Sunday Express survey of councils found that in the past year five children were taken from their families for that reason: two in Wake-field, West Yorkshire, one in Oxfordshire, one in Salford and one in Hounslow, London. The previous 12 months saw five similar cases in Sheffield, Portsmouth, Lincolnshire, Slough and Harrow, London. …Ex-Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson warned in 2006 that health chiefs would look at removing children from their families if they became super-sized, risking their health. The first reported case took place in 2007 when an eight-year-old girl from Cumbria, who had to wear size 16 clothes, was taken into care.

I confess that this story leaves me conflicted.

Since I surely would favor the government taking kids if they were being starved to death, shouldn’t I support taking kids if they’re being fed to death?

Even if they’re not being fed to death, they are probably being condemned to lives of obesity, which is associated with all sorts of bad outcomes. Don’t I want to save them from that fate?

On the other hand, do any of us think that kids generally are better off in a foster care system?

Moreover, do you trust the government to make wise decisions? That’s an especially relevant question in the case of the United Kingdom, where kids actually have been removed from a home because the parents didn’t believe in unlimited immigration.

And what’s the cut-off point? Maybe if the government starts with seizing grossly obese children, that eventually will lead to raiding homes with mildly chubby kids.

These slippery slope arguments are important because most examples of government abuse have relatively benign beginnings (today’s monstrous income tax, for example, began in 1913 as a very simple, two-page tax with a top rate of just 7 percent).

I don’t know the right answer, but I look forward to reading the comments.

P.S. If you want additional challenging examples of “you be the judge,” peruse this list.

P.P.S. On a separate matter, I gave a speech earlier this year while visiting the Citadel in South Carolina. I gave it the grandiose title of “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Economic Policy.”

Cato Institute Senior Fellow Daniel J. Mitchell

I don’t know if this is a positive sign, but that video has been translated and posted in China. Considering that my blog is blocked in China, I assume this is progress of some sort.

You won’t be surprised to learn, though, that I have no idea how to embed this type of video, but if you have a bizarre desire to watch me pontificate with Chinese subtitles, feel free to click on the image.

China Citadel

I have no idea whether I’ll change any minds in China, but I hope the country moves more in a free-market direction. As shown by Hong Kong and Singapore, Chinese people are very productive when freed from the shackles of big government.

Moreover, some Chinese bigwigs seem to understand. I was very impressed, for instance, when the head of China’s sovereign wealth fund made some very accurate observations about the failure of the European welfare state.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: england; obesity
Note: The video is over 21/2 hours long
1 posted on 12/31/2013 11:57:27 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

When they start to live by the eame standards as the “commoners”. Nothing but more crap from the masterminds.


2 posted on 12/31/2013 12:09:18 PM PST by Busko (The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain.)
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To: Kaslin

When you absolutely can’t stand them for another minute.


3 posted on 12/31/2013 12:11:14 PM PST by Tax-chick (The superpowers ascribed to "feminists" make me wish I was one.)
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To: Kaslin
The phenomenon is known as “killing with kindness” because the child craves the unhealthy food and a loving parent feels unable to say no.

That is a fallacy. A loving parent is not necessarily the one to say 'no'. It takes a lot of love to say 'no'.

So the argument begins with a false premise. Therefore it is faulty.

4 posted on 12/31/2013 12:13:33 PM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts ("Gun horror is not a productive emotion, but learned helplessness disguised as moral superiority.")
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To: Kaslin

What you need are ways of limiting the slippery slope.

The best way to do that is to have legislation that only grants authority to intervene only in carefully defined specific scenarios. You want to eliminate both bureaucrat and judicial decision making as much as possible.

There is still the risk of a legislature passing crazy laws. But legislatures debate things. That makes it far less likely that they will pass laws to take away children because of their immigration beliefs. Those type of errors occur because an individual judge and/or an individual bureaucrat was given too much authority.

For examples like the overweight scenario, you again need objective thresholds and intervention should be conservative as possible. In other words, counseling the parents and the child is called for first. Perhaps even a few weeks with a live-in trainer/monitor to help change habits. Placing the child in foster care should be a last resort. And should be considered temporary until the intervention is showing the desired results.


5 posted on 12/31/2013 12:19:23 PM PST by DannyTN (A>)
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To: Kaslin
"Increasingly social workers find youngsters being fed a high-fat, sugary diet.... I confess that this story leaves me conflicted."

Conventional wisdom, outside of government, is quickly moving to the idea that high-fat is good and only carbs are bad. This "Libertarian" writer's anecdote illustrates why he should stick to Libertarian principles. Do-gooder Statism only increases suffering while giving the self-satisfying illusion of virtue.

6 posted on 12/31/2013 12:22:08 PM PST by UnwashedPeasant
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To: Kaslin

NEVER!!!!


7 posted on 12/31/2013 12:39:25 PM PST by SandRat (Duty - Honor - Country! What else needs said?)
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To: Kaslin

Not ever.


8 posted on 12/31/2013 12:41:05 PM PST by arthurus (Read Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson ONLINEhttp://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/)
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To: Kaslin

When you send them to government schools.


9 posted on 12/31/2013 12:43:30 PM PST by demshateGod (The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts
You and I aren't actually the intended readers. Many of these questions posed start with a false premise and that is the whole point.

...Self destructive behavior in government run health care? Dismantle government run health care.

Much like a few others many waste a great deal of time and effort debating...

Should children be allowed to pray in government run indoctrination camps public schools? Dismantle government run schools.

In the face of extreme fiscal crisis should government be allowed to pay out $.70 or less on the dollar to each retiree that put into a government run retirement plan? Dismantle government administered Ponzi...er, retirement plans.

10 posted on 12/31/2013 12:45:53 PM PST by gnarledmaw (Obama: Evincing a Design since 2009)
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To: demshateGod
Not everyone can afford to send their kids to private schools, or is qualified to home school.

So what other choice is there? Vouchers, what if they can't get any?

11 posted on 12/31/2013 12:57:21 PM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: SandRat

“NEVER!!!!”

I agree with one caveat, I should not be prosecuted for breaking arms and legs of an abusive parent.


12 posted on 12/31/2013 1:12:04 PM PST by PoloSec ( Believe the Gospel: how that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again)
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To: gnarledmaw
Yoda says;

Simpatico, you and I are. Yeesssssss.

13 posted on 12/31/2013 1:24:24 PM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts ("Gun horror is not a productive emotion, but learned helplessness disguised as moral superiority.")
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To: Kaslin

Once again, the libertardians jump the shark on incest between consenting adults. (see link contained in original post). That is why I can’t take them seriously as a party or a philosophy. They have great gaping holes in their brain matter.

This is why the state regulates sex between relatives.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2521752/Children-incest-cult-living-deformed-mute-Australian-valley.html


14 posted on 12/31/2013 1:26:26 PM PST by Valpal1 (If the police can t solve a problem with brute force, they ll find a way to fix it with brute force)
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To: Tax-chick

LMAO!


15 posted on 12/31/2013 1:27:59 PM PST by andyk (I have sworn...eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.)
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To: andyk

Oops, did I type that out loud?


16 posted on 12/31/2013 1:29:47 PM PST by Tax-chick (The superpowers ascribed to "feminists" make me wish I was one.)
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To: UnwashedPeasant

It’s simple.
Raising ones child how he sees fit is fundamental, so the Constitutional standard of strict scrutiny should always apply.
Then you tailor the law accordingly to stop the slippery slope nonsense.
Then for good measure you make sure the state agency is barely funded, such that they have only the option of focusing on the mist serious cases.
In my view the funding issue nearly solves the problem.
Then you just accept the fact that there are no perfect solutions, and any problem the government tries to fix will only make it worse.


17 posted on 12/31/2013 1:41:15 PM PST by Clump ( the tree of liberty is withering like a stricken fig tree)
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To: Kaslin

Everyone IS qualified to home school. If they’re not, then they’re not qualified to be a parent. Read Deuteronomy and Proverbs. The antithesis of parental education is progressivism and Marxism.

Read about John Dewey.
http://outpostpilgrim.com/tag/john-dewey/


18 posted on 12/31/2013 1:45:52 PM PST by demshateGod (The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.)
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To: Kaslin

I will go on a limb here and guess the fat children epidemic in Britain are the result of welfare payments. Lazy parents on welfare in council housing are not going to be preparing nourishing meals. They’re going to fill up on pasties and fish n chips. Plus, with the Brittish streets over run with chavs and skallies no one dare let the children out of the house.

Plus with national health this allows the government complete control over every aspect of your lives in the name of “cost” savings.


19 posted on 12/31/2013 3:39:11 PM PST by Organic Panic
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To: Kaslin
It’s not easy being libertarian!

I stopped reading right there.

(Loser-tarian Sarvis lost Virgina governorship to Dems. They will never, ever understand that this is a bad thing.)

20 posted on 12/31/2013 6:05:47 PM PST by Seaplaner (Never give in. Never give in. Never...except to convictions of honour and good sense. W. Churchill)
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To: Kaslin
I've got a close family member employed as an attorney for Child Protective Services. Hates her job!

Far too many judgement calls relegated to her limited experience, coming as she does from a well adjusted family, and a nut job extended family. That would be me.

There are some easy calls, child molestation, elder abuse, incestuous infatuations etc.

The gray areas are huge!

21 posted on 12/31/2013 6:46:47 PM PST by theneanderthal
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To: Organic Panic

It is also due to the school lunch program.

Which should end in this country. After all, its for the children!


22 posted on 12/31/2013 7:17:07 PM PST by donmeaker (A man can go anywhere on earth, and where man can go, he can drag a cannon.)
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To: Organic Panic

Article documenting UK failed reform of school lunch program. Leftist is opposed to ending failed reforms, simply because they didn’t work and cost real people more money.

By Ryan McNeely

Andrew Lansley, the new UK Health Secretary, has announced that the government is canceling its support for Jamie Oliver’s famous “healthy schools” initiative that strives to put nutritious food in UK school cafeterias. This is a reversal for Lansley, who once admonished his fellow Tories for not supporting Oliver’s approach, and it follows an earlier announcement that the new government will scrap a Labour plan to serve free meals to 500,000 low-income children in primary school. These cuts are of a piece with the austerity movement in the UK, but Lansley offered up this reason for the change in policy:

“If we are constantly lecturing people and trying to tell them what to do, we will actually find that we undermine and are counterproductive in the results that we achieve.“

…”the parents’ response was that they gave children money, and children are actually spending more money outside school, buying snacks in local shops, instead of on school lunches.”

The government cited a study showing that there was a dropoff in the number of students buying cafeteria food: “In 19 of the 27 schools, there was between a 9 per cent and 25 per cent drop in the number of pupils eating school meals.”

Is this necessarily bad news? I’m not sure that a world in which all children are eating unhealthy processed food is superior to a world in which three-quarters of children eat healthy food with the rest opting-out — and that is the study’s worst-case scenario. If government-sponsored social policy tries to nudge people’s behavior in a certain direction, then I suppose in a sense it will “tell people what to do” by definition. But if Lansley believes that the program literally tells people what to do by limiting choice, that is belied by the data that shows that some children are choosing not to participate. No one is being forced to do or eat anything.

No program is perfect, of course. But nutrition is extremely important to children’s health and educational attainment, and shortchanging investment in human capital in the name of cutting long-term deficits seems extremely counterproductive. Oliver’s program was getting solid, empirically verified results, so it’s sad to see it go.

http://thinkprogress.org/yglesias/2010/07/02/197755/uk-coalition-kills-school-lunch-program/


23 posted on 12/31/2013 7:23:16 PM PST by donmeaker (A man can go anywhere on earth, and where man can go, he can drag a cannon.)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

“That is a fallacy. A loving parent is not necessarily the one to say ‘no’. It takes a lot of love to say ‘no’.

So the argument begins with a false premise. Therefore it is faulty.”

Insisting on injecting the rules of logic worked out by the ancient Greeks into a discussion in a post-modern, post-structuralist world could be construed as cruelty to dumb Libtards.

;-)


24 posted on 01/01/2014 7:41:12 AM PST by GladesGuru (Islam Delenda Est - Because of what Islam is and because of what Muslims do.)
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To: GladesGuru
could be construed as cruelty to dumb Libtards.

Aw....how's a guy supposed to have any fun?

25 posted on 01/01/2014 8:05:07 AM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts ("Gun horror is not a productive emotion, but learned helplessness disguised as moral superiority.")
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