Free Markets, Free People
Smaller Less Intrusive Government?
Here’s the story from CNN:
Lisa Snyder of Middleville, Mich., says she takes no money for watching the three children for 15-40 minutes each day so that the neighbors can get to work on time.
The Department of Human Services, acting on a complaint that Snyder was operating an illegal child care home, demanded she either get a license, stop watching the kids or face the consequences, WZZM says.
Snyder calls the whole thing “ridiculous” and tells the Grand Rapids TV station that “we are friends helping friends!”
A DHS spokesperson tells the station that it has no choice but to comply with state law, which is designed to protect Michigan children.
She’s doing a neighborly thing – she accepts no money. She helps her neighbors by watching the kids while they wait for the bus thereby allowing the parents to get to work on time. She doesn’t feed them. She provides them a warm place to stay out of the weather until the bus shows up.
For that, the state claims she needs a license? And the state hides behind the law, or at least their interpretation of it to do so.
But if you think about it, couldn’t the same claim be made if mom drops off the kids with granny? Mom gets to work and granny keeps the kids until the bus shows up. Other than the fact that granny’s a relative, what’s the difference?
David Boaz makes what should be the obvious point:
This is what people mean when they warn that an ever-expanding government threatens the values of neighborliness and community. When the government provides services for free, or when it erects obstacles to individuals’ providing those services, it reduces private provision and simultaneously increases the demand for government services. If you make it illegal for neighbors to watch one another’s kids, you weaken ties of neighborhood and community.
But the need remains. So it leaves parents with fewer options and, as Boaz points out, it makes neighbors less likely to reach out and help.
Is that government’s role?