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Free Liberal: Coordinating towards higher values

Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

To the Dumpsters, Go

by Paul Jacob

We have all heard of “dumpster babies,” abandoned newborns left to die by unfit parents.

And now, courtesy of Nebraska’s not-too-careful legislature, we have “dumpster teens” — near-adult youngsters left with the state of Nebraska by their parents, following last July’s loosening of the state’s child neglect statute.

The legislature, trying to prevent dumpster babies, weakened penalties to irresponsible parents who at least show the tiniest responsibility by not leaving infants in dumpsters, or the like, to die, but rather leaving them at hospitals for someone else to take up care.

Little did they expect parents to abandon growing children, including teenagers.

Though unintended, the effects were, well, ludicrously predictable. The legislators had used the word “child” rather than defining it more narrowly to “newborns.”

A special session has now been convened, and the law tidied up to include only infants 30 days or younger. But not before dozens of young people were abandoned. Some parents travelled across state lines to get rid of their kids.

Strange that the same legislature that outlawed non-residents from helping circulate petitions in Nebraska would allow non-residents to drop off their unwanted children in the state. But I digress.

Nebraska legislators may have meant well, but they ignored a basic principle: Some obligations should not be made too easy to break.

Paul Jacob's "Common Sense" is published by the Sam Adams Alliance. Their website can be visited at

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There are always unintended consequences of laws. It seems that Gödel's Theorem applies to legislation.

The dumping of teens points out some significant social problems, both of which stem from libertarianism run amok.

The first is the lack of a living wage or of adequate tax support for families with children. Resisting redistribution is not always a good thing. It depends how it is done.

The second is the lack of ability to put out of control youth into the hands of state sponsored mental health care professionals (since poorer parents can't afford to send their kids to fancy private camps, some of which are notorious in their cruelty and need better regulation anyway). Churches are better to provide these services, but they still need taxpayer support and the ability to treat against the will of the unruly teen. The same kinds of kids take advantage of their parents second amendment rights and you have school shootings.

# posted at by Michael Bindner

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