Monday, June 18, 2007

A Comment On Ron Paul That I Had To Post (From Watching Those We Chose)

By Manifesto Joe

When posting a routine follow-up on R.P., I didn't remotely expect anything like this, the number of comments. But this is turning out to be fun. Since we have so many free marketeers proctoring this site, here's one for y'all, originally posted as a reply to comments:

Wow, what happened here? A lot while I was asleep and at work.

Something I feel compelled to add to the exchange: One of my grandfathers was an illiterate who was put to work in the tobacco fields of North Carolina at age 7. This was 1897, a year in the heyday of economics as it is prescribed by Congressman Paul's beloved Ludwig von Mises Society. He wasn't an exception. In cities, there were children that age operating machines in mills and factories because their fingers were supple, and they were less likely to get their little arms caught in the gears.

That "godless socialism" of the 20th century made an awful lot of difference in my family, and I don't feel a trace of guilt. My parents made it to high school, but college was a privilege they could scarcely hope for. I have a master's degree, and it does not trouble me that some corporate cutthroat may have had to wait an extra year for his BMW so a hillbilly's grandson could get an M.A. in 6 years instead of 12. And now, in a higher tax bracket, I can help someone else like I was -- but only after the war machine takes much more of it.

I am giving Ron Paul his due for opposing this stupid war. But the laissez-faire economic view he embraces was discredited 75 years ago. It is only the self-interest of an economic elite that has kept this silly and ironically enslaving ideology alive all this time. You want to be bought and sold in the marketplace every day, like a commodity? By all means, let's go back to 1897.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Ron Southern said...

The good news and the bad news, I guess. Fresh air, but it would probably kill us all. For a republican, though, he's less of a Satan.

Red Hog Diary said...

Um, I guess what I meant to say was, from my first glimpse of the man I didn't hate him like I did the other 9 monkeys that were on the stage. It was just refreshing to hear somebody step outside of the mach party line.

Nick Bradley said...

When Child labor laws made it illegal for your grandfather to work in an open, legal environment, children his age turned to the black market for money, where the pay was worse and the conditions abhorrent.

At a certain stage in economic development, children work to help put food on the table. Once economies progress past that point, families can afford to keep their kids out of work and educate them -- invest in them.

Any punishment we dole out on 3rd-world countries for having child labor keep them in economic first gear -- or they whore their daughters out and their sons become pickpockets.

Manifesto Joe said...

Hey, I think that suddenly we have an answer to a lot of our social ills. Let's start putting everybody's ass to work in a factory when they're 7 years old! Think of all the character-building experiences they will have. And hell, when you consider it, not everybody needs to know how to read. I understand that 60 percent of Americans have never read a complete book. I suppose there's nothing intrinsically wrong with condemning large segments of the population to lifelong wage slavery. Many are nothing more than brutes, anyway.

To turn serious, your argument is almost analogous to: When you make it illegal for child molesters to rape children, they will do it in secret anyway, where they will do even more awful things to them, bugger them even worse, etc. So why punish them by making it illegal? Let's have it in the open, for all to see. Perhaps we can distribute free condoms at the buggery festivals, to curb the spread of disease.

Nick Bradley said...

Manifesto Joe,

You are being disingenuous by comparing apples to oranges.

One is a victimless crime (working underage) while the other is rape and a violent violation of somebody else's rights.

Real crimes are those which violate our natural rights -- real crimes are those that involve violence or theft of another person.

Manifesto Joe said...

Hi, Nick:

Please note that I said "almost analogous." I knew this comparison was a stretch.

But I find it very disingenuous, or maybe just naive, that you would consider child labor a victimless thing. A child is not of consenting age. Once someone attains something close to their majority, they are empowered to make major life choices, for better or for worse, on whether to drop out of school, etc. I find it ludicrous that anyone would think a child of 7 competent to choose anything like that for one's self. My grandfather did not volunteer for what happened to him; I suspect his case was typical. A child this young is a legal ward, normally of parents, in any civilized society.

In a desperately poor country there would be few schools anyway, and it's understandable that hungry bellies would force a family to work their kids. In the U.S. in 1897, this should have been scandalous, but it was tragically common. And it condemned the victims -- yes, victims -- to lifetimes of thankless toil and embarrassing ignorance. I got to see the end result for one such person up close and personal.

And this is a big reason why I am a "recovering libertarian." It is an economic view that is clinical to the point of being crackpot, one that absolves economics of any moral imperative. Anyway, I doubt if I am getting anywhere with you. We must agree to disagree.