I am convinced that the state exists only for the purpose of testing my sense of humor. This morning, C-SPAN was running a video of last week’s Treasury Department conference on the subject “Youth and Financial Decision-Making.” One part of the program was titled “teaching kids to manage their budgets.” It’s a timely topic, and with a national debt that exceeds $17,000,000,000,000, who better to help kids learn how to responsibly handle money than this gaggle of buffoons?
It has been my experience – both as a child and a parent – that most children have a clearer economic sense than do most college graduates. I was nine-years old when I got my first paper-route. A family-owned grocery store was half-way through my route, and I would occasionally stop in to buy a candy-bar. One day, I made my purchase by handing my nickel to the store-owner, who thanked me. I responded by saying “thank you.” He proceeded, in what was intended as a very helpful way, to tell me that he thanks me because I gave him my nickel. “Yes,” I replied, “but you gave me the candy-bar.” When, years later, Marxist ideologues tried to inform me how I – and other customers – had been “exploited” of my nickel, I fondly recalled the sense of independence and understanding I had when, as a nine-year old, I educated a businessman on the voluntary nature of an exchange system!
I also remember kids going door-to-door selling all kinds of items: from magazine subscriptions, to garden seeds, to salves. There was also the Junior Achievement kids who created their own businesses and products and sold them in the community. More recently, I have seen kids operating lemonade stands. In the course of doing so, many have learned an unintended lesson: local governments intruding to require permits, extract sales taxes, and the like, as a coercively-imposed cost, that interfered with or criminalized their activities.
My lifetime experiences with kids trying to pursue their self-interests through voluntary transactions with customers, provides me with the same lesson that derives from non-governmental schools: the learning experiences of children best served by staying out of their ways! A consequence of such a strategy would, of course, more likely produce a world of creative, self-directed, productive men and women able to live well in the world without the arrogance and hubris of political people-pushers who presume to direct the processes of life!3:15 pm on March 17, 2014