What happens if the child is born and the mother or father disappears leaving the child alone? In our current system, governmental social services or some other such organization will place the child into some sort of facility or temporary home care. Sounds good, right? It’s not. If you look at statistics to see how these organizations are doing anywhere in the world (particularly in the US where they have experimented the most) you will notice that things are not what they seem.
These organizations perform very poorly for the child and for the foster parent. They are overly bureaucratic and inefficient. In a word, they are a failure.
Let’s now analyze what would happen with such a child in an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system. Let’s take the worst case scenario: we don’t know where the parents are. The child is left in the hospital. What happens to the child?
To answer that question, we need to take a short detour. Please stay with us; we promise we will get back on topic momentarily.
In our Austro-Libertarian system the entire world is far richer and this fact has a remarkable effect. To get a glimpse at what a scenario we are analyzing would look like, we actually have to go back in time to see what happened to those children in rich countries were social services did not exist. The answer is that those children did not end up in the streets but they were taken by private organizations, many of them religious, which were privately funded. These organizations were doing quite a good job too. They were much more flexible since they had far less bureaucracy. This was for the best of the children because they were housed and feed property and received good education. In addition, the child’s chances of getting into a foster home, the preferred option, were much higher because of the contacts these organizations had with the private sector. This was so because a rich country allows for people to donate far more to charity causes. It’s that simple. If the middle class is far wealthier, they will donate with generosity.
It was only when governmental notions of social services or child services came into place, when the system became so inefficient.
So going back to our scenario, no, the child would not be left on the street to die. The child would be picked up by organizations. These organizations would sign a document (through a mediator or a professional witness) assuming all responsibilities for the child; considering that whoever the previous responsible was, relinquished all responsibilities by abandoning the child.
It is to be noted that we are not talking about changing property owners without a contract or voluntary consent. The child owns his body and this fact will never change. We are talking about who takes over the responsibilities for the child’s wellbeing.
These organizations will go to a mediator or a professional witness and sign a contract specifying that they are willing to be responsible for the child’s wellbeing. This is indeed a contract because the original responsible just abandoned the child, and in so doing, this person expressed his/her wishes not to be responsible. In other words, if they would had a chance to sign a contract with this organization, they would have done so. This is a voluntary act and therefore can be used in an agreement. So, yes, it is a valid contract. Remember, a contract is an agreement between parties but it can assume many forms and it can be agreed in many ways, by action or inaction, explicitly or implicitly.
Once this is done, the child is given to this institution, which is now fully liable in exactly the same manner as the parents in Case #1 would be, because they accepted all responsibility.
But why would such organizations sign such a contract? Wouldn’t be easy not to sign it? It is certainly an option, but it won’t relieve them from any responsibility because they will still be interacting with somebody’s property without a voluntary contract. There is no advantage here.
Furthermore, if they don’t sign the contract, then there is nothing preventing the original responsible(s) from showing up one day and simply taking the child or claiming damages to the child and seeking reparations from the organization. Therefore, there is a clear advantage in signing the contract.
Lastly, it is to be noted that the fact of abandoning the child does not in any way remove or diminish the responsibilities (and thus liabilities) of the abandoning parent.
Another question that must be answered is what happens when the child grows ups. The question is, at which age has the child reached a point in time when she/he has become self-sufficient and autonomous enough. In an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system, that decision belongs fully to the child and not to the guardian. The child must make this decision. However, the age at which this decision may be made is irrelevant. There is no such thing as the age of adulthood; no artificial limit, no magic number because it simply can’t be. We are all different and we all have different maturity levels and so the child must make the decision on his/her own good time when he/she is ready.
In current legal terms it is called emancipation. It is a legal process, usually requiring a lawyer and involving a judge, that will expose the child to a number of subjective tests and determinations. After which, people that have absolutely no rights over the child, will determine if he/she is fit to be declared an adult. It is, of course, a nonsensical process but it exists today. It is not something new that our system would have to invent from the beginning; it will only have to improve on it, mostly by making it universal.
Let’s repeat this. The emancipation age is not set in stone, like the magic age of consent that currently exists in laws and regulations; whereby, by some magical process, the child suddenly stops thinking as a child and starts thinking as an adult.
When the child makes the decision to emancipate, he/she would go to a mediator or professional witness, or just draft a document, clearly stating that on this day onwards the child voluntarily agrees to take over his/her own body. Hence, the parent(s) or guardian(s) have ceased to interact with the child’s property without a voluntary agreement and any damage that may happen to this body is the child’s responsibility. This means that the guardian(s) can now interact with the child’s property (his body) on the terms and conditions that they may voluntarily agree upon between them.
Could this happen when the child is 14 years old? Sure. Could it happen when the child is 25? Sure. It is the child’s decision, not the parent’s decision and not some sort of legal decision.
This also means that if a child never emancipates from their guardians, then the guardians will be responsible until the child dies. That’s entirely possible.
Consider the case where the child has diminished mental or physical capacity. Then the child may never be able to emancipate. This may happen because the child may not be capable to understand what emancipation means and therefore it may not be capable of agreeing to a voluntary contract. Or the child may not wish to do so because he/she is physically impaired.
Therefore, the guardian(s) will be required to care of that child until the child dies, or they die or somebody is willing to take that responsibility from them.
This is exactly what happens today, with the difference, that there are no rules or regulations. Everything is perfectly clear and deducible from the Master Contract. There are no other rules or regulations required.
Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.
Continue to The Rights of the Child - Part 3