No Child Left Uncontrolled

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CNN’s insufferable Piers Morgan has been droning on about the “evils” of child labor; an easy target of attack for those whose conditioned minds confuse “people pushing” with “socially responsible” behavior.

I had my first paper-route when I was nine years old — delivering morning/evening/and Sunday papers for about $20 per month. Between that time and my graduation from high school, I worked — without pay — as an assistant for my father’s surveying business; a paid caddy at a golf course; a car-hop at a drive-in; working — again, without pay — as an actor on a Saturday morning children’s show on a local radio station; and an usher at a movie theater. I recall the excitement of my ushering salary rising from 50 cents to 60 cents per hour. Of course, in none of these jobs was I competing with members of labor unions who would have demanded — and, with the help of the state, have received — much higher pay than I received!

My childhood was dominated by my commitment to work, an undertaking that originated with me. And far from being “exploited” by the experience, this work helped me to develop a sense of existential independence, the ability to cooperate with my peers, the discipline to save — and even invest my earnings — and social skills unsupervised by parents or school officials. Most of the work I performed gave me a great deal of private time — periods of self-reflection — with which to think about what I wanted from life, who I was, and of my relationships with others. The independence associated with such work is contrasted with the institutionalized control of modern children for whom any display of spontaneity and self-directedness is met with intervention by “professionals” whose job it is to supervise and keep constrained any youngster who might be inclined to stray from the herd.

Children who have grown up in an environment in which they have been able to negotiate  — and be compensated for — the terms of their relations with others, enjoy a sense of self-control that is troublesome for institutional interests that prefer to treat people as fungible resources. To the established order, an independent person represents a form of “entropy,” (i.e., energy unavailable for productive work).  There is a cost associated with the dehumanization of childhood that finds expression in a variety of life-destroying practices such as the killing or maiming of soldiers, and the epidemic of suicides among members of the military.

I will be more inclined to believe in the sincerity of those who pretend to be concerned about the “exploitation” of children when I see them preaching and campaigning to end their political destruction. When the military continues to routinely kill 6, 8, and 10 year old children without much criticism expressed by those who can voice no higher moral standard than “support the troops;” when people like Julian Assange can be condemned in the harshest terms by government officials and politicians for the offense of showing the aerial slaughter of children; when children are regularly destroyed by American cluster-bombs and drone-bombers; it is time for the Piers Morgans and the rest of the media to abandon their attacks on the marketplace for allowing children to work, and to focus their attentions on what even the dullest of their minds must be able to see as the depraved and dehumanized nature of all political systems.

1:26 am on December 6, 2012