Brian Micklethwait on Childrens’ Rights

I found (unearthed?) this video while searching for images of Thursday’s speaker, Brian Micklethwait.

What do you think?

A bit more on Brian.

Brian is insanely well-known around Libertarian circles. Everyone knows he was involved in the Libertarian Alliance during it’s hey day and is responsible for all those LA leaflets and tactical notes that did so much to shape the movement. He also helped out Chris Tame at the Alternative Bookshop and is famous for bringing people to libertarianism by winding up socialists so badly they could not stop talking about libertarianism.

Brian’s name is a bit of a giveaway that he is a bit of posh toff. He was born into a class that expected to run things, for example, his mother was involved in setting up the Natural Childbirth Trust. If you have had a baby, chances Brian’s mum had something to do – very indirectly – with teaching you how to change nappies, breastfeed and give birth. It is therefore not at all surprising that Brian came to libertarianism through the perspective of a governor – an honest inquiry into how best to govern ended at the ultimate in laissez-faire.

These days Brian spends his time helping the grassroots of the libertarian movement grow a bit faster. Helping them to understand what they can do and how best they might do it. It is with that in mind that we have him here.


  1. I wonder what he thinks about his comment at the end on Social Services post Rotherham?

    Moreover, if some of his ideas had been implemented perhaps some of those children would have been able to walk out and find something better.



  2. I agree with Brian (and did at the time) on the basic principle that NEITHER the state or parents “own” children – for example parents have no right to murder their children.

    My fear is that a, quite understandable, desire to protect children from a handful of evil parents – might be used as an excuse for statism.

    I am NOT saying that Brian would want that – certainly not.



  3. What Brian stressed, and what I most agree with, is that children should not be prohibited from working. It hardly needs pointing out that as few as 30 years ago, “children” of 13 or 14, and sometimes younger, were considered by most parents as acceptable paid babysitters; and children several years younger than that were often assigned to babysit their younger brothers and sisters.

    Now, I believe that in some states at least, a person must be at least 16 before being allowed to babysit. !!! When I was growing up 14-year-olds were cashiers, gas-station attendants, general dogsbodies at various establishments…kids younger than that had paper routes…various kids (boys anyway) hit the ships at age12-14 and went on to become reporters or whatever. And whatever happened to the lawn-mowing kids?

    Richard Epstein talks in one of his lectures about child labor laws, and the fact that the long, hard labor of children became shorter and easier not because of child-labor laws, but because technology improved to the point that the children and their families could get along without the need for children to do such work. He points out that the parents loved their children in those times just as much as we love ours today, and that they were very happy when the kids didn’t need to do this kind of work.

    But of course, that’s a digression…apologies. No, children should not be stopped from working, and while we’re at it let’s not make them go through the whole rigmarole of needing the Health Inspectors and vendors’ and food-workers’ and whatnot licenses to run a lemonade stand (!), which is as good as way as any to start them young on the path away from entrepreneurship.

    By the way…I don’t know of anyone nowadays who thinks that, properly speaking, parents “own” their children as if they were chattel. But parents do have a moral responsibility to do the best they can to help their children to grow up as strong and healthy in the many important ways as they can.

    Part of that responsibility does involve a degree of discreet (at least) supervision, to see that the kids don’t get themselves into a mess that they really can’t get out of. And the point at which a parent should, ideally, intervene depends a great deal on the particular child.

    Anyway, an interesting talk. Thanks.



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