Reminder: 1984 Still Not How-To Guide
"Scotland jumps the shark," the aptly named What’s Wrong with the World blog notes:
You just can't make this stuff up. Scotland has passed and is beginning to implement a law which assigns every child in Scotland from birth to age eighteen a "named person," selected by the government, whose job it is to "promote, support, or safeguard the wellbeing" of the child. Parents will not have a choice about whether or not to accept the assignment of an outside government busybody to their children. Some proponents of the law claim that "Families are not required to accept advice" from the named person.
Pardon me if I consider that to be patently disingenuous. We are talking here about a massive invasion of privacy in which an outside person is assigned, without parents' consent, to monitor their child and make on-going recommendations for the child's "well-being." There is not the slightest doubt that parents who refuse to take the advice of these state social workers will face probable repercussions. The very assignment of the "named person" implies that someone else needs to be looking over the parents' shoulders, knowing all sorts of information about the family and the children's upbringing, and making recommendations. That the parents could simply blow these off without the slightest worry about further problems is a ludicrous idea. (Home education leaders in Scotland say that they are already seeing problems, though no details are given.)
It is a breathtaking thought that elected officials in Scotland should have passed such a violation of privacy. (And I hope they get thrown out at the next election for doing so.) The sheer data collection aspects of this are shocking. It is difficult to see how any sort of privacy for the child or for the family can survive this program, and whether home schooling will survive remains to be seen.
I've seen this movie before:
But then, as Scott Rasmussen writes today at Real Clear Politics, "Once you accept the premise that so-called experts should decide what's best for the rest of us, the only question remaining is how to deal with people who don't comply." In America, that's taken some ugly forms, as Rasmussen notes:
In Florida recently, police pulled up to a young boy playing in the park and asked where his mother lived. According to a report on WPTV, the mom was then arrested for "allowing her son to go to the park alone." Her son had a cellphone, and she would check in with him along the way. The mom believes "he's old enough, but Port St. Lucie Police disagree."
There is a tendency to dismiss stories such as this as a silly mistake by an overzealous police officer, but sadly it's part of a larger problem. In fact, a similar story of arresting a mom for not supervising her child 24/7/365 took place a few weeks back in South Carolina. A Washington Post column reported these incidents as part of a series on "the increasing criminalization of everything and the use of the criminal justice system to address problems that were once (and better) handled by families, friends, communities and other institutions."
This abuse of governmental authority is the natural extension of nanny-state efforts such as the crusade to ban large sugary drinks. Once you accept the premise that so-called experts should decide what's best for the rest of us, the only question remaining is how to deal with people who don't comply.
It's the same mindset that believes the National Security Agency should be allowed to read all our emails and monitor our phone calls in the name of national security. Just trust us, they say. We're from the government, and we're here to help.
In USA Today, Glenn Reynolds adds that as in Europe and the UK, in America, "Public servants acting as public masters:"
Alas, as with the IRS' stonewalling of investigations into its targeting of Obama's political opponents, consequences for offenders seem hard to come by in the face of an administration that has no shame. Probably the best that Congress can do is to punish the entire CIA by using its budgetary power to make employees' lives worse: Cutting back on bonuses, raises, conferences, and other perks. Where the IRS is involved, there's some talk of abolishing most of it in favor of a national sales tax that would require much less bureaucracy and provide fewer opportunities for abuse, but that's unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon.
The sad truth is that when you elect irresponsible people into positions of power, you get irresponsible government. President Obama oozes contempt for Congress, and for longstanding unwritten political accommodations among the branches, at every opportunity. It's unsurprising that his underlings feel — and act — consistently with that view.
If the American electorate votes more responsibly next time, things will get better. Until then, alas, elections have consequences, and this is one of them.
And the enabling mindset of moderate and leftwing voters has consequences as well. Or as Kevin D. Williamson writes, "Conservatives, so often put off by the Left’s habit of deputizing its members as thought police, often fail to appreciate the real roots of that crusading inclination: It is not only that they wish to suppress their political rivals and nonconforming ideas, but that they believe it is necessary to establish, by whatever Pavlovian means are necessary, deeply ingrained habits of thought and speech that prevent the emergence of heresy among their own, in order that they may be entrusted with the awesome power that the Left’s politics would deliver unto them."