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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15258/the-solution-is-to-ban-popsicles/

The Solution is to Ban Popsicles

January 7, 2011 by

We have a two-and-a-half year-old son and an almost seven-month old daughter. Both are usually extremely pleasant and well-behaved, though there are cycles during which our son is less than cooperative.

Like this morning. He wanted a Popsicle (which is a proper noun, by the way) and was pretty belligerent about it. We generally let him have a few small Popsicles every day because there is less sugar in the handful of Popsicles he eats than he would get from a second cup of juice. They’re also a relatively cheap source of incentives (here’s Bryan Caplan with similar thoughts on TV).

To borrow an idea from our friends in San Francisco, I propose an obvious solution: Popsicles should be outlawed. After all, we’re powerless before our crying child, who has been brainwashed by the corporate villainy of the Popsicle people. We’re not going to stop there. Our son eats a ton of ice, too, and I’m on the hunt for the covert ad campaign by the ice interests who have brainwashed him into ice enthusiasm in ways we have yet to detect. Be warned, readers from the ice syndicate. You tell your corporate masters that I’m coming, and the State is coming with me. Or maybe I should re-read James Otteson’s insightful post on the Happy Meal ban and take a few deep breaths. As Professor Otteson points out, “[t]he parents have the money.”

All kidding aside, a few years of parenthood has taught me a couple of important lessons. First, there’s no One Right Way to do it. Second, the ratio of snake oil to legitimate information in the parenting literature is really, really high. Finally, being an adult is just flat-out hard compared to being a child or an adolescent. Fortunately, I only have about another eleven to thirteen years before my kids are teenagers, at which point all of the difficulties we’re experiencing right now will vanish and my wife and I will be able to kick our feet up and relax.

From an academic perspective, all of this cries out for explanation and examination from a dynamic, Austrian perspective. Fortunately, my sometime-coauthor Steve Horwitz is on it. Here’s his paper “Is the Family a Spontaneous Order?” which, as I understand it, is part of a larger book project on the Austrian economics of the family. From a policy perspective, the San Francisco Happy Meal ban illustrates the importance of keeping good ideas alive in the public debate. Along these lines, Steve and I have written a trilogy of articles on the Tea Party movement (1, 2, 3), and I have another article about how economics can help us reduce child abuse that some might find interesting. If you’re looking for pointers on how to join the conversation, I humbly suggest the 2010 version of my annual summer advice for students and welcome any advice or correction.

{ 12 comments }

Michael A. Clem January 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

Don’t get too excited about their teenage years–they present an all-new set of problems!

Curly January 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm

So right! And by the time the kids reach their teen-years they have already trained you to give them what they want and it will be to late to train them to make good choices. If a infant or toddler can train you to give him a Popsicle how is a parent going to resist him after 10-12 years of domination?

J. Murray January 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

If you try to ban Popsicles, you will incur the wrath of Popsicle Pete. None of you are safe!

As for child rearing, the reason so much of it is snake oil is because there exists no one size fits all solution to parenting. Each child has to be taken as an individual, not part of a collective called “child”.

El Tonno January 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

“at which point all of the difficulties we’re experiencing right now will vanish and my wife and I will be able to kick our feet up and relax”

I hope that was ironic.

Art Carden January 9, 2011 at 12:07 am

Teenagers aren’t any trouble, right? : )

Matt Flipago January 9, 2011 at 2:18 am

In my family we have banned books too, after all if children are reading Harry Potter, then they aren’t solving the Riemann Hypothesis or Twin Prime Conjecture.

James Fowlkes January 9, 2011 at 7:57 am

This is hilarious. You might have to ban television too because that’s where the brainwashing occurs. All it took was once for me to sit down and watch an episode of a childrens television show to see that the commercials are potentially damaging. I only let my kids watch on-demand and even those I have to forward past an ad sometimes. However, at least I don’t have to worry about commercials during the program. My children can watch safely. Even PBS has commercials for McDonald’s right before Sesame Street. Seriously?!?

Doc Merlin January 9, 2011 at 9:19 am

Eating ice is a symptom of mineral deficiency. So it is possible that he has one, if he starts eating dirt, I’d start giving him mineral supplements.

Pete Terrill January 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

The simple solution to the whole mess would be an old fashion butt whuppin if your kid (s) don’t understand the concept of ” no “.

Colin Phillips January 12, 2011 at 11:15 am

Be careful advocating physical violence against children. 500 years ago, people flippantly spoke of beating their slaves as though it were a necessary fact of life, but nowadays those people are mostly judged quite harshly as being ignorant products of a backwards age.

In my experience, using violence to solve non-violent problems tends to create new problems down the line.

Curly January 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm

To make things easer for the parents maybe a list of every thing that a child should not have or be fed should be compiled and then each local, state and federal government should outlaw them. But to stop illegal activity a very sever punishment otherwise it will just become another drug to be sold illegally. This would remove the choice from the parents and place it on the state where it belongs.

David January 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Actually, trademarks are proper adjectives.

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