This story about children (one of them an infant) of Indian parents being taken away from them by Norwegian authorities and put in Norway’s foster-care system is a little old. Other people have taken apart this stupidity as well. It brings to the fore the problems with the welfare state that libertarians worry about. I am by no means a libertarian, but there are some things that are simply too stupid to have to resort to ideology to resolve. If anything fits that bill, this has to be it.
I grew up in a house where I didn’t have my own room. I slept on the floor in the same room as my father, until I went to college. Was this mistreatment? I eat with my hands, as does everybody I know. I also know for a fact that I wasn’t born with the ability to pick up food and put it in my mouth; somebody had to teach me. And they weren’t committing a crime against a child in so doing.
That Norwegian authorities would take away children from their parents for letting their kids sleep in the same room and for feeding them with their hands is bewildering. What are these people smoking? How daft do you have to be to think that this is not just abuse, but such abuse as to warrant taking the children away from the parents?
The argument being made for the authorities seems to be that people who move to new countries should adapt to the new culture. This argument is easily reduced to the absurd. Imagine if you were potty-training your kids but you’re Indian and you use water instead of paper. As a matter of simple mechanics, surely the physical contact involved in this is more ‘serious’ than in feeding your kids with your hands. What punishment do you suppose is appropriate?
Everything I do is informed by the culture in which I grew up. My relocating to a country with a different culture cannot, in this age of the global village, make everything I do criminally punishable. All parents screw up their children. The exact nature of how said screwing-up should be done has to be left to the parents. There have to be limits to what the government can regulate in a society with pretensions of democracy.
To paraphrase House, ‘No, there isn’t a thin line between welfare and the government going crazy; there is, in fact, a great wall of China with armed sentries posted every twenty feet between a welfare state and governmental overreaching.’ And the Norwegian government has definitively placed itself on one side.