Sean David Burke______
Parents prefer their own children. Usually, anyway. This is normal. Parents save and spend money with their own family in mind.
As a result, children born into wealthy families receive comparatively more and better of many things. A child born destitute can expect to be lacking in many things. These things include good (or not so good) food, medicine, health care, education, clothing, housing and transport.
On one level, of course, this is unfair. On the other hand, few would suggest that parents who save and spend money on their children are doing the wrong thing. Far from it; it is universally viewed as a virtue and an accomplishment.
The role of the modern state
From the point of view of the state, things are different. The state does not prefer any particular child. The state has no children, or, perhaps, the state has many children. Either way, there is no child to prefer.
Religious traditions often view a baby’s appearance as predestined. In the eyes of the state, however, the delivery of a baby into the arms of a rich or poor mother cannot wholly determine that baby’s future. For the state, it is a mere “accident” of birth.
Decisions of the state regarding the saving and spending of money cannot be based on family loyalty. They must occur without regard to personal preference or connection. Indeed, decisions affected by personal considerations are corrupt decisions on some level. The more developed the state, the more corrupt any personally motivated decisions will be regarded.
Each child stands before the state alone, with their particular needs and with their contributions to make. The thing about a child, however, is that their contributions are wholly in the future. There is no way for the state to assess what contribution a child will make to society as a whole throughout their lives. The engineers, carers, musicians, artists and presidents are all still to be unveiled. Predictive statistics, while interesting, are of no real use in any individual case.
Quantifying a contribution is also difficult. Even a person who is wholly dependent their whole lives makes a contribution, sometimes by allowing the expression of human traits in others.
From the point of view of the state, every child therefore stands equally. The state has no use for discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, economic means or handicap. Discrimination itself handicaps the state.
A firm basis for policy
Future and unknown contributions can provide no basis for policy. Immediate needs, however, can be defined.
In Health, for example, each child has a need for care. Those needs will never be equal needs. Some children will never be unwell and will cost little. Others will cost a great deal. One of the world’s greatest scientists now requires a fulltime carer; if he had needed a fulltime carer at, say, ten years of age, the world would have been amiss to deny that to him.
In Education, parents are their child’s first teachers. Each family, however, has a differing ability or readiness to provide education. The state’s interests require that supplemental education be provided so that all children learn, regardless of their economic starting point.
At its base, the state provides security. This is not just a matter of safety from terror or criminality or injury. Security includes predictability in life; some idea of where the next meal is coming from and where the bed will be tomorrow. It includes equitable basic provision for health and education, which help provide security from illness and from unemployment. A state that does not provide basic levels of security fails in its contract with its citizens.
The state cannot care where a citizen comes from, and cannot predict where they are going. The state’s duty is to deal with present need, with an eye to the future. For the state, an individual’s security and their capacity to develop physically, socially, economically and culturally, cannot be allowed to be solely determined by the accident of birth.
Sean David Burke
rich kid http://theparentcue.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/rich-kid-494x329.jpg
poor kid http://littlebelovedones.deviantart.com/
www.earthsideeducation.com This article is free to share and publish as is.
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