Art Carden

Helen Lovejoy Political Economy on the Playground

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Who is Mrs Merkel?... Me in Dallas on Friday...

I apologize if I've over-emphasized the "for the children!" meme recently, but today's FEE article from Jeffrey A. Tucker, "The Abolition of the Playground: How Regulation Stifles Spontaneous Order and Play" deserves to be read widely. It's popular to say that the 21st century needs entrepreneurs, risk-takers, and bold visionaries, but where will these entrepreneurs, risk-takers, and visionaries come from if we work to insulate them from risk at every turn?

I contributed a few chapters to Freedom and Prosperity in Tennessee last year, and in the process I got to read through pages upon pages of daycare regulations. These regulations make the perfect the enemy of the good, and access to affordable childcare is a major barrier to labor force participation for the poor. Easing up on the regulatory burden for childcare centers would make more childcare available and therefore make it easier for poor people--especially single mothers--to participate in the labor force.

Since I've already done this a few times in the last couple of weeks, I'll leave the Bastiat-esque "Petition" proposal as an exercise for people who want to try their hand at it in the comments.

HT: Jeffrey Tucker and The Libertarian Homeschooler.


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CATEGORIES: Regulation



COMMENTS (4 to date)
ThomasH writes:

Good point and it shows that much of what Liberals and Libertarians object to comes from state legislation and state court decisions.

John C writes:

See also, inter alia, Play by Stuart Brown, Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence, The Ambiguity of Play, Peter Grey's Free to Learn, and NutureShock (and cf. "Keeping Kids From Toy Guns: How One Mother Changed Her Mind" from August's The Atlantic, Free-Range Kids, and No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk-Averse Society).

There's also a bit on research on soccer and hockey (and other sports) re why, despite having more "official" practice/game time than other countries, the U.S. produces so few elite athletes in those sports.

Also, while far from scientific, it's interesting to compare the changes in liability insurance requirements with increase of childhood obesity/overweight rates over the last 20 years. (Of course, the same could be said of the rates of smoking and obesity, so your mileage may vary.)

Tom West writes:

Interestingly enough, I think the American propensity against fatalism makes the acceptance that "sometimes children die" harder.

The idea that horrible things happen and there's nothing you *should* do about it is anathema to part of the American psyche. Usually that's a big positive, but in this case, it means a drive to avoid any casualties, especially when the cost to everyone else is hidden.

Art Carden writes:

Thanks for the comments. We're big fans of Lenore Skenazy, and our approach to the first month of home-schooling our kids has been kind of "active unschooling." We're part of a local group that's taking a behind-the-scenes tour at a grocery store today. We do a short reading lesson with the kids every day, and we spend a good amount of time reading to them. We're also letting them explore and define their own projects. Our five-year-old, for example, now has a compost heap and has taken charge of the recycling bin.

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