It Takes a Spartan To Rear a Child?

The Twittersphere seems to be in a tizzy about this MSNBC “Lean-Forward” ad featuring Melissa Harris-Perry advocating collectivist rearing and training of your children. She repeats the well worn idea that children should belong to the whole of society rather than their parents. The most frequent historical comparisons that I’ve noticed are the easy comparisons to Hillary Clinton’s It Takes A Village book, wildly popular in certain circles, advocating a collectivist approach to rearing children be adopted (imposed) on American society. Mrs. Clinton did not invent that idea she, has just being credited for a few decades with an idea that has been around since 5th century Greece.

In the 1980s, libertarians were on the forefront of pointing out these issues of liberty, but even then they were slipping and George H. Smith noticed. In this 1985 speech, he forewarned the core of the libertarian movement that the right to school is much more than a financial issue; it is a true civil rights issue.

Somewhere along the way, liberty took a back seat to economics in the libertarian discussion. This MSNBC propaganda piece is heavy on requiring our children to attend government schools and the first people to jump on the liberty angle were conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh. It might be because in the discussion about free-market education, libertarians have been all market and no true freedom. What I mean is the focus on vouchers, tax credits, and the like. Sure, these things promote educational efficiencies, but they miss the point of being free to educate your kids without government interference.

In the 1980s, parents in Tennessee were fined and jailed for keeping their children home instead of sending them to government schools. They won back the freedom from government that all libertarians should celebrate. Asking the government for a voucher does not make you a free citizen, it just makes you a less-poor subject.

See also for a more in-depth look at the history of government schools: It Takes A State to Rear a Child is as Old as the Spartans.