"Consequently, any activity that is potentially harmful to others and requires certain demonstrated competence for its safe performance, is subject to regulation that is, it is theoretically desirable that we regulate it. ... In fact, I dare say that parenting is a paradigm of such activities since the potential for harm is great (both in the extent of harm any one person can suffer and in the number of people potentially harmed) and the need for competence is so evident. Consequently, there is good reason to believe that parents should be licensed."
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"Licensing Parents", Philosophy and Public Affairs, Winter 1980
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Reader comments about this quote:
Well, we've already licensed drivers, doctors, attorneys, businesses, engineers, construction workers, recreation areas, and every other application of work, etc. I guess it's up to the government to make me safe against smoking, walking in a crowd, any contact or other physical activity or sport where injury may be present, drinking, sex, adolescent behavior, and everything else that can possibly ever become a danger to me. While they're at it, they should make it illegal to become sick and pass the illness on to a co-worker. Wouldn't that be nice? To legislate against any and all viruses and harmful bacteria, I don't know why we haven't thought of this before-- and I thought all we needed to find a medical cure for HIV and AIDS-- Who would have thought that the answer was found in legislation. We just have to legislate against the virus and it would throw its hands in the air and say, "I give up, you got me". In reality, the HIV virus would probably just ignore the legislation like I ignore the speed limit-- We'd just have to make stiffer penalties for the virus. I agree though, licensing is the way to go-- I think we should make it illegal for people to get sick unless they have the government's permission; you never know, they could pass it along to another person. I just don't feel safe unless the government gives me privilege to move and act everyday... What would I do without my benevolent benefactor?
 -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Well said Logan. I am one of those evil parents who home school my children. These anti-liberty, nanny-state, big-government types just HATE the idea of children being outside of their control and influence. They want to make our children into THEIR mold. Independent thinking is baaaaad. Non-conformity is baaaaad. They have made the State their god, but the State is made up of people. What makes them more able to determine my or my children's welfare better than me.
     -- Mike, Mount Holly, NC     
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    Poor parenting is very likely at the very heart of most of our social ills today. If we did a better job of building better parents, we would no doubt solve many ills within just a few generations. It used to be that there were parenting classes given in high schools for the females, so at least half of the parental units got some training. Today, no such luck. Too bad so many have caused our education system to become more narrow minded, just like most of those home schoolers do as an excuse to make sure that their children are educated in religion and have no contact with outside systems which actually show some semblance of rigorous thought processes.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    I don't know of other states but Nevada (Mr. 'R's' state) has found away to declare all children wards of the state (home schooling being illegal unless authorized, complete with dummy downed curriculum - prostitution, gambling, etc are ok, but don't YOU educate your own personal biological offspring, Immorality (father) knows best). What would big brother give you the permission to do, raise only atheist, gay, or otherwise politically correct children? What??? The concept is more than real real real scary.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Regulate parenting? Totally "1984" and obvious "Big Brother." Reston, listen to yourself and how "narrow minded" you are! It is absolutely anti-American, even democratic-socialist.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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    LOL, Logan! If we are not careful, the establishment will have most of the populace clamoring for legislation like this. There are a lot of people in high places who are in agreement with this sentiment -- that is why we must practice Independence more abundantly -- if Independent-minded people are not in the majority, the rest will vote away their own rights (and eventually the rights of the rest of us) for the 'protection' of the state.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Yeah Reston, I hate that my kids aren't in an outside system "which actually show some semblance of rigorous thought processes". I guess that's why they consistently score in the 95th percentile on the standardized tests (Iowa test) they take every year. Wonder why colleges say they prefer homeschoolers because they demonstrate the capacity for independent thought and independent study much more than children from public schools? If you are referring to public schools as demonstrating "rigorous thought processes", that is laughable. Public schools are bastions of liberalism and political correctness. It doesn't surprise me that you sing their praises.
     -- Mike, Mount Holly, NC     
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    Although the reservations are valid, the basic idea is a good one. There are people who should not have children. That much is painfully obvious.
     -- David L Rosenthal     
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    I have thought it over, and decided that the basic idea is a fallacy. There are people who should not have children, whose children should be protected from them, but licensing would never work.
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
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    Reston, I think you should let Logan regulate your parenting practices. If not Logan alone, maybe Mike from NC can join in such regulation. If those 2 aren't sufficient to give you permission to implement their parenting practices, how about adding Archer, David and myself (a good mix, collectivist, freeman, Christian, Buddhist, etc.). Or, just what is the magic number where "we the public" begins; that 'it' has authorities you have not; and, without knowing our parenting practices, or at least the long term effects thereof, why do you think our sense of events is so much better than yours that we must grant you formal permission to implement our ideas and practices on raising your child?
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Maybe the government can set up some kind of breeding program where those with the most beneficial genes are matched up. Then the government can put the children in government operated creches so that they can get the perfect nutrition and indoctrination they need for optimal performance for the greater good of society. Come to think of it, I think someone tried that before didn't they? As for home schoolers, as I recall Thomas Jefferson and the other founders were "home schooled". Maybe that's why government always want to discourage homeschooling. Thomas Jeffersons can be troublesome.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    I believe I see the point this writer was trying to make. Ithink we should all read this quote again and think of the upbringing Adolf Hitler had, for instance. Or Napolean Bonapart. Or Mussolini. Fill in the blank.
     -- Me Again     
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    I think this quote and the one about the Chinese sterilization protocol better belong in a category called "Threats to liberty"
     -- Wendell, Layton, UT     
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    The training ground is called Sunday School. Too bad the Utopians prefer forced sterilization to voluntary belief in God and morality. As Jefferson said. "When the people are no longer able to discipline themselves and are ready for a master, it matters little from which corner he/she comes.
     -- Wendell, Layton, UT     
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    One of the eternal problems is the total lack of parents with experience raising children. Here and there we do have a parent with "batches" of children by different spouses. In these cases, there is a chance for improvement based on experience. Whether it resides in the genes or develops via taboos, legends, religion, philosophy, etc., there is a force at large in the world that strives to guide us. I believe it has a divine origin, but that is personal and controversial. Frankly, if someone proposed licensing parents to me, I would have the person locked away in a dungeon never to see the light of day again. Well, maybe not. That might not go over big with the God I believe in.
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol     
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    Not saying parents should feel like they own their children as they would own cattle, but this is far too extreme!
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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    A good idea in priniciple but probably not very workable. Many if not most young parents get together and discuss their common problems of raising kids. Most young parents are however thrown into the parent mold almost overnight with nary a thought about what it is all about. Ongoing programs for couples about parenting is a good idea although I am sure many would argure and fuss over who is providing and overseeing the programs. Civic, church, school, voluntierr or government sponsored groups etcetera. A license well that is a stretch.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Why bother with licensing, just turn the kids over,at say around 6 months of age,to the state for raising. Sort of like how it was done in Nazi Germany and Stalins Russia. It would save the parents a lot of bother and the kids could sing praises to Pope Obama every day and become good little socialists.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    I'll comply to that...right after I register all my guns
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    I say, in a sense, alot of our children are being turned over to the state, jim k. With CPS stepping in and kidnapping children who are not being "disciplined" the way the state thinks they should be, we will have a whole new generation of adults who don't even know who their parents are or were. The future looks pretty bleak with the state in control. GOD put parents and family in place to raise children, not the village!! Kids are supposed to learn about parenting from their parents. I agree that some people should not be parents, but that's not for me to decide. So who should be the ones to decide who should have children, anyway?
     -- leann a.,, Orfordville, WI     
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    Though I disagree with this quote I must agree that many parents should be pre-qualified to be a parent. Perhaps if we plowed money into education instead of war there would be no need to even consider such an initiative. It has always amazed me that the pro-lifers are always first to unleash the dogs of war.
     -- RBESRQ     
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