As we all know, the jails are full of victimless criminals in America. Whether they are street walkers, gamblers, or drug users, many are serving time not for hurting anyone, but as protection against themselves or because they committed an act considered immoral by society’s moral elite.
However, adults are not the only ones punished for not hurting anyone. Young children are usually placed in time out, spanked, or have their toys confiscated by their parents for committing the victimless crime of not sharing.
Picture this, little Jonny has a friend over to play, but refuses to give him a turn with his slinky. After much quibbling between the two young lads, Jonny’s dad intervenes by taking the slinky away from Jonny and giving it to Jonny’s friend while Jonny is placed in time out on the couch to think about what he did.
But, what did little Jonny do? He did not hurt his friend or violate his friend’s rights. After all, he didn’t steal from or hit him. What he did was obnoxious and inhospitable by societal norms, but no crime worth punishing was committed. Little Jonny’s toys are his property and it is his decision whether or not to let others play with them.
If you disagree, then consider why adults are held to a different standard? If my neighbor wishes to borrow my hedge trimmer, but I don’t loan my tools out to anyone, does some authority figure come along and take it from me and give it to my neighbor while I am placed in time out in a ten by ten cell? Most people would say that is a preposterous example that would never happen. Agreed, then why are kids punished for not sharing their toys?
Like adults, kids have a choice to make. If they don’t share their things, when they are at a friend’s house, that friend may not share his things with them. Worse yet, a child who doesn’t share may not have any friends even if he wanted them. The bottom line is that the natural world has a way of working these issues out. There are plenty of incentives for little Jonny to share.
But, let’s return for a moment to the example about the neighbor who wanted to borrow my hedge trimmer – the example is not so far-fetched upon closer consideration. In America, it has become all too commonplace for our neighbors to ask for authority figures (government) to make us share our income with others or face time in prison. Whether it is big bank bailouts, the military industrial complex, public employee unions, corporate and individual welfare, or foreign aid, Americans are constantly required to share their money with others or face jail time.
And that is really the lesson to be learned about punishing kids for not sharing their things with others. It teaches them at a young age that property rights equates to selfishness and prepares them to be subservient slaves to the state which takes their property through taxation or price inflation and gives it to others.
At the end of the day, sharing should come from the heart not because you will be placed in time out or put in a cage. Parents should teach their children empathy for others while respecting their property rights. In an age of massive public assistance spending and “too big to fail” bailouts, property rights have taken a back seat to political expediency. It is time property rights were once again respected. Parents can begin that process with their young children.