Friday, August 28, 2009
Where do we draw the line?
The story from Holland about the young girl who wants to sail around the world by herself has got me thinking.
As a Libertarian, I am all for zero interference from the state. We should all live our lives as we see fit along with a healthy portion of personal responsibility.
Parents should, of course, be responsible for their children. There is no debate about that. But what if the parents are not capable or abdicate their responsibilities. Who will take over then?
The girl in question has parents and has, in all probability, been brought up to be a decent human being. But she is only thirteen and she wants to sail around the world by herself and her parents have given permission. The result of this is that she is now subject to child protection laws in the Netherlands, for her own safety.
My personal view is that if she were to attempt sailing solo around the world, she will almost certainly face death. I am no sailing expert, but I imagine sailing around the world in a small boat powered by sheets of canvas would be extremely dangerous.
So, I think that she should not try it. Her parents should not have given their permission, (in my view), but they did. It is clear that most people share my view.
Thus the question. If not the state, who would step in and protect this child from herself? If the state did not step in and the girl set off and came to grief, would the parents face charges?
So, where do we draw the line between state interference in our everyday life and state intervention to 'protect' it's citizens? Is it, or should it be, a duty of the state to protect us and if not who or what will?