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March 13, 2006


I worked for the Child Advocacy Institute here in California (regarded to be one of the better states in the above regard) and I could still tell you horrific stories.

"One was a boy who had the sort of slick smooth exterior normally found in con men over the age of thirty."

That phrase reminds me of the best bit of advice I can explicitly remember from my mother: "Beware someone is very charming. That is a skill they developed for a reason."

Yet my beloved home state has enough money to pass, & presumably defend in court, an anti-abortion statute that plainly violates Roe, as a bet on Alito/Roberts futures.

The problem, as usual, is that no Dem has the guts to campaign on TV commercials about dying kids, even though that is EXACTLY what we're talking about here. See also our terrible Medicaid cuts.

Race issues aside, Mississippi continues to be the poster child for a strong federal government.

How terribly sad.
We have/had a similar problem here in the state of Queensland (australia). About 2years ago, heaps of kids were falling through the safety net. It came about because children that were at risk or abused by their parents were now either at risk or abused by their foster carers. Something very similar about a little girl with an std started things.
Some say it has been fixed others say it hasn't.

Some say it has been fixed others say it hasn't.

Regarding foster care, I can only say this. My research included a bit of study of child welfare efforts in 19th century Europe. Lots of foster families. Lots of scandals. Some that still give me the willies, and the cases were from the 1860s.

The problem, though, isn't some old 19th century thing. It's still with us. How much money is the commune/city/state willing to spend to take care of kids without stable families? What resources other than money is it willing to allocate? How is the oversight going to be carried out?

It's never "fixed" for very long. It's a constant struggle. It's a problem of human society.

I seem to remember a Faulkner story where a boy is kept under the porch chained to a log (though now that I think about it, it may have been a true story in Laurel Mississippi that was noted as being Faulkneresque). This, coupled with the kind of notion that one's home is one's castle (As seen in Faulkner's A Rose for Emily) has always made me suspicious of libertarian argumentation.

And FTR, Mississippi is my home state as well. Yet almost everyone I went to University with has moved away, which points to one possible aspect of the problem. I'm not claiming I was a member of the best and brightest, but the out migration is pretty substantial.

Somewhere between heartbreaking and inspiring - recent New Yorker on the Nurse-Family Partnership in Louisiana.

lj, as the token self-identifying libertarian, I'll just point out that in my view -- and that of many libertarians -- cases of child abuse and foster care nightmares are absolutely within the realm of state power to intervene. In fact, it's incumbent upon the state to do so, because children, while having all the human rights that adults do, do not have all the legal rights nor can they often act on their own behalf. Please, don't try to tar libertarians with some bullcrap "What I do to my kid in my house is my bidness" argument, because it won't wash.

Julian Sanchez at Reason does a lot of writing on foster care, the state's responsibilites towards minors, how it fails at them and what to do about it. Much of it is directed at the elephant in the room here, which is the number of red states (which I'll bet $5 includes Mississippi) that won't let gays foster or adopt children.

Phil, Florida remains the only state in the US which legally bans same-sex couples from adoption (though not from long-term fostering).

FWIW, Jes & Phil, Dahlia Lithwick wrote the other day:

Only Florida categorically prohibits gay parents from adopting, although Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, and North Dakota do so as a matter of practice.
Not sure what this means, but I'll trust her on it.

Point taken, Phil, I didn't mean to tar you, it's just that if the bond between parent and child can't be something that you can place trust in, then the whole notion that you can trust people when left to their own devices is a bit shaky. More about my own reason for not being a libertarian rather than a judgement.

if the bond between parent and child can't be something that you can place trust in, then the whole notion that you can trust people when left to their own devices is a bit shaky.

Eh, down that road lies authoritarianism, lj. At least as far down it as I can possibly see. What things, specifically, do you think people should not be left to their own devices to do in life?

Jes, true as far as it goes, but what happens is you run into sub rosa stuff like this, in which religious groups -- who insinuate themselves heavily into providing adoption and foster placement services -- get to exempt gays from the process as a matter of policy rather than as a matter of law.

I also have little doubt that, in addition to what Lithwick notes in the article linked by Anderson, many states somehow find themselves without a lot of gay adopters on the short list.

What things, specifically, do you think people should not be left to their own devices to do in life?

The snarky reply is beat and starve their children, but that's certainly not fair. However, I do think that the libertarian philosophy has been co-opted by those who want to remove government scrutiny for purposes not related to personal freedom. Along with this, you see the notion that somehow, the people who suffer from the absence of government regulation somehow had it coming, a la the Protestant concept of the elect. I don't have a scorecard, I don't want to accuse people of being libertarian without some firm proof, but when I see things like 'New Orleans was a failed city', there is the whiff of post hoc justification.

To me, authoritarianism starts when we try to limit what people think rather than intervening in shaping the choices they have (and any system of government is a way of shaping choices of the electorate). I admit that any system of punishment creates a presumption that those who commit those acts are wrong, thus telling us how we should treat such offenses, so there's no clear line here. But I do believe that libertarian principles are often used as a stalking horse for an anti-government agenda, and not being a libertarian myself, I tend to toss out that baby to get rid of that bathwater, at least in my own reckoning of things. Weighing in on that as well is the fact that I live in a nation that probably tolerates a higher degree of intrusiveness than anything that could be imagined in the States.

Also, I think that change has to be managed, and information technology coupled with the power of the business world automatically skewed playing field in terms of access to information. I think we have to come to grips that more and more of what we thought were our private lives are going to be public, and in this sense, libertarianism is a reactive stance rather than a forward looking one. This is one reason why libertarians have found a home with the 'conservative' side of the spectrum.

Again, this is my own attempt to come to grips with it, so please don't take this as a personal attack.

I honestly hadn't paid much attention to the "which states prohibit same-sex adoption" notion all that much, but it really surprises me that Florida is more hard-over on this issue than, for instance, Alabama.

For us it was a non-issue, because a) we're not a same-sex relationship, and b) we adopted from China, which forbids same-sex relationships from adopting regardless of what the state of residence is.

it really surprises me that Florida is more hard-over on this issue than, for instance, Alabama

It's an Anita Bryant thing:

Bryant, who condemned homosexuality as immoral and "against God's wishes," is best known for her 1977 campaign to repeal a Miami ordinance banning anti-gay discrimination. Her organization, Save Our Children, claimed that gays -- or "known practicing homosexuals," in her lingo -- were converting children. It was thus no surprise that after Bryant succeeded in her self-described crusade against the bias ordinance, she turned her sights on Florida's adoption laws.

"Since homosexuals cannot reproduce," Bryant reasoned, "they must recruit and freshen their ranks." Fanning the flames of anti-gay hysteria, Bryant helped convince the Florida legislature to pass a law that entirely barred gays from adopting children.

I love that: "freshen their ranks." It's a pun.

Here's the wiki article for those of you who didn't grow up listening to her singing about orange juice.

Ah, well that explains a lot. Explains all, actually.

'I love that: "freshen their ranks." It's a pun.'

Help for the slow?

Yes, of course. I know that I felt the recruiting pressure as a lad. Should I lust after women as was my wont, or should I cave into peer pressure? So confusing.

Since it's late and I'm tired, lj, absent the opportunity for a more detailed response, I'll just say in response to this: This is one reason why libertarians have found a home with the 'conservative' side of the spectrum. . . . that you don't hang out with many libertarians. Most of the ones I know generally detest what passes for "conservative" these days. Particularly for the reason that, whatever pains the confluence of business w/privacy-disrupting mechanisms to which you refer are going to cause, it's the ability of business to leverage government to its own ends that's going to ultimately be the problem, and with the government we have now, whoo, boy. Crony capitalism is not conservatism (to the degree I care what conservatism is, which is not much), but it definitely isn't libertarianism. It's the very opposite, in fact: Corporate interests using government, and vice versa, as a tool to violate your privacy rights.

Well, that's true, there aren't a lot of Japanese libertarians ;^)

But when you have people like Glenn Reynolds and Michelle Malkin profess to be animated by libertarian principles, I hope you won't blame me for being a bit suspicious. (not of you or others of this commentariat, I hasten to add)

As for the ability of business to 'leverage' government, that seems (to me, at least) to require that government balance business rather than leave the field. If this government is local rather than federal is fine (cf the hilzoy's food labelling post), but I see it as a counter balance rather than something to be attacked and reduced.

I haven't seen a lot of soul-searching on the part of libertarians about how they may have acted as enablers for this administration, but if there is, I apologize and hope you could toss up a few links. No worries if you can't respond, and I'll try to keep my eyes open for more libertarian oriented things.

G'day y'all! here is an interesting link page to libertarian thought on child protection, outta LRC. Enjoy!

Help for the slow?

I didn't say it was a *good* pun. Rank ... freshen ...

LJ, if you aren't reading Jim Henley's blog already, I would certainly recommend you do so.

I'll second that. Not that I recommend my blog but I've been commenting here for awhile, I'm a libertarian, and I certainly never did anything to enable Bush. Of course I seldom call myself a libertarian anymore. I'm learning to think of myself as a Democrat now.

Most of the [libertarians] I know generally detest what passes for "conservative" these days.

The problem is that there are a lot of people who profess to be libertarian or at least profess to the "libertarian" descriptor -- not just Reynolds and Malkin, as noted by LJ, although they're particularly visible examples -- who simply aren't. I do know a few genuine libertarians, both online and IRL, but they're a vanishingly small proportion of those who describe themselves that way. And the subset of those whose political viewpoints aren't immediately laughable is smaller yet.

And I should clarify that I don't mean any disrespect to anyone considering themselves a libertarian here, just that I've known far too many pseudo-libertarians to avoid the generalizations.

JM, thanks for the recommendation. I've read Henley before, but only the occasional post. GreginOz, I have occasionally pulled up things from LewRockwell.com, but have never felt comfortable linking because I really don't know where they are coming from. As an example, at the Ludwig Mises blog (which I think is affiliated with LewRockwell.com) is this

So how does it happen that brand new casinos spring up in months, while during the same period the rest of the region devastated by the hurricane simply continues to be devastated, showing hardly any signs of recovery?

Here’s a hypothesis to explain the disparity: The casinos are privately owned, profit-seeking business firms of a kind ineligible to receive government financial assistance. Thus, as soon it became legal to pursue an opportunity to make a good profit by opening casinos, their owners proceed to do just that, as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

In contrast, the rest of Biloxi and the Mississippi coast, and apparently most of New Orleans as well, are on hold, waiting for government money and busy doing whatever it may be that the government requires as a condition for receiving its money. Possibly, they are busy simply trying to learn what the government requires them to do as a condition for receiving its money. Possibly, the government itself is busy trying to figure out what it wants them to do as a condition for receiving its money.

If this line of explanation is correct, and I am confident that it is, then it follows that if one wants rapid recovery from large-scale disasters, the government should offer no financial assistance and offer absolutely no prospect of financial assistance.

Is there anything else the government might do, or not do, to speed recovery in such cases? Yes. It should suspend all requirements for obtaining permits of any kind relating to building and construction and the opening of new businesses, including, above all, requirements for environmental impact statements and their approval.

Further, the government should not wait for new disasters to strike. Legislation suspending permitting requirements during the aftermath of disasters should be enacted well before the next one occurs. That would permit banks and insurance companies to develop their own criteria for making loans and writing insurance policies in the absence of governmental requirements.

Given these changes, natural disasters would be followed by the most rapid possible recoveries. The freedom to respond to them would go a very long way in diminishing their character as disasters.


Frank, Phil (and any other libertarians here), no offense intended, and I don't want to demand you justify what you believe (looking at the subtitle of Frank's blog, I'm willing to cut him a lot of slack and I've always appreciated Phil's comments here as well), can you see how the demands for reduced regulation, and a laissez faire attitude towards enforcement could have been taken advantage of?

LJ- Sure and that argument is all canon libertarianism as far as I can see. I can see that the libertarian plan is does nothing for the poor and makes life easy for gangsters and con artists. Sometimes people have mistaken me for a hard-hearted type, but I'm not really. I see why you are horrified by Lew's perscriptions and I sympathise. I'm not really a fan of Lew Rockwell not because of the excerpt you gave, but more because I think his hatred for President Lincoln is unseemly.

OTOH even with all the red tape and oversight the US Army Corps of Engineers is "rebuilding" New Orleans levees in a manner that won't hold up to a Cat 1 storm much less a Cat 3.(I'll look for the cite.) And they are telling people to come back to NO saying it will be safe. (I am reminded of Christy Whitman telling people the air around ground zero was perfectly safe after 9-11.) So when bad people are in charge rules created to protect and help people simply become opportunities for graft and con games, we are made that much less safe because we are in the habit of listening to these people.

LJ, a very thoughtful response. Howsomevever the Mises article merely reinforces MY opinion. Money is like water, it finds it's own level. Government tries to regulate and all that happens is that money/property/freedom are impeded. The State simply can not but bully/steal/obsfucate. Sometimes I feel that libertarianism scares many because it is all about MERITOCRACY and, dare I say it, NATURAL Aristocracy. When politicians rabbit on about 'level playing fields' I KNOW they are not talking about RAISING people to the same level, heck no, it's all about LOWERING, lowest common denomnator et al. Regards.

Until Mississippi educators stop picking up wooden paddles and beating children black and blue, there is no hope for the widespread domestic violence in the state.
When the educated sector sets the standard so low, it is a sad thing.

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