6 ways children would thrive in a voluntary society
By Jennifer Lade - January 26, 2018

Parenting for Freedom article series: This is the fifth in a series of articles that analyzes how freedom-loving people can align their parenting with their political philosophy, and how doing so will allow ideas about personal liberty to carry on to the next generation.

For a long time, the issue that held me back from being a full-fledged anarchist was the question of children. In a truly free society, adults would not be able to demand goods or services from others using the violence of the government. And I was OK with that. That was simple for me to reconcile. Rights are negative. Society doesn’t “owe” anyone anything except the right to be left alone.

My original philosophical dilemma was why my kids have a right to demand care from me. But after reconciling that, I struggled with society’s obligation to children in general.

Children aren’t going to be self-sufficient in their care for many years. That’s why parents are in it for the long haul. No one disputes that parents ought to provide food, clothes, medical attention and shelter to their own child. But what if the parents can’t or won’t do so? Do those children cease to deserve these necessities of life? If they do deserve them, then we needed an entity — the state, I assumed — to make sure they got what they needed.

Over time, I came to realize that I was approaching the issue all wrong.

The real question isn’t whether we should help children when they need it. The question is whether we can give that help without the government.

The answer? A resounding yes. Here are six ways children would not only survive, but thrive in a completely voluntaryist society.

1. Freedom of association.

Children would be free to find a living situation that best worked for them. That could mean living with someone other than their parents or trying to live alone. Currently, children must petition a court for emancipation from their parents and prove their maturity. In a voluntaryist society, a third party would not have that power.

In The Ethics of Liberty, economist Murray N. Rothbard says:

“Regardless of his age, we must grant to every child the absolute right to run away and to find new foster parents who will voluntarily adopt him, or to try to exist on his own. Parents may try to persuade the runaway child to return, but it is totally impermissible enslavement and an aggression upon his right of self-ownership for them to use force to compel him to return. The absolute right to run away is the child’s ultimate expression of his right of self-ownership, regardless of age.”

2. The meeting of their basic needs.

Even without SNAP benefits and free school lunches, children would not be starving in the streets. In a voluntaryist society, we could meet the needs of children in many ways. Ideally, a child’s parent would care for him. But charitable individuals and organizations could also pick up the slack. Furthermore, parents could transfer their responsibilities to a party who is more able or willing to care for the child.

Just as children could choose to leave their parents, a free society would allow for a parent to sign over their duties to someone else. Rothbard points out that while we might cringe at the idea of “a flourishing free market in children,” it has better outcomes than our current system:

“[It] would allow for an allocation of babies and children away from parents who dislike or do not care for their children, and toward foster parents who deeply desire such children. Everyone involved: the natural parents, the children, and the foster parents purchasing the children, would be better off in this sort of society.” (LINK: )

3. Freedom in their education.

There would be no compulsory school attendance. Children would be free to attend school or not without fear of truancy charges. Of course, a society without government does not mean a society without governance. People could come together to establish schools that look very much like the public schools of today. The difference is they couldn’t shake people down for the operating costs. In fact, all schools would have the same burden of finding voluntary funding. Those schools with the most attractive models would have the best funding.  A society accustomed to freedom would likely have many self-directed education options. These could take the form of homeschooling or what are currently “alternative” schools.

4. Protection against violence.

In a voluntaryist society, aggressing against another person is still a crime. So parents who abuse their children could still be arrested by private security companies. Private arbitration agencies could help abused children get restitution for their suffering. Who would cover the child’s arbitration costs? Perhaps certain arbitration companies would specialize in abuse cases and take them with no upfront cost. They could take payment based on the settlement with the parents. High-profile cases could be pro bono, since they would benefit from the publicity.

5. More money.

The absence of taxation would allow people to put their money toward causes they deem worthy. For example, most of my $4,000 in property tax goes to fund the public schools my kids aren’t attending. I often daydream about what sorts of educational resources I could offer my kids with an extra $4,000 a year.

And that’s only local property tax, not sales tax or income tax or anything else. I would also give more to charity, as I’m sure many people would. Some of our tax savings would go toward replacing services currently monopolized by the government: trash pickup, security, etc. But with competition between companies — and individuals picking and choosing what services they can live without — the cost for an average household would decrease.

Children would benefit from a home with greater wealth. Even people who currently rely on government benefits would likely do better. Companies could spend their tax savings on additional employees, charitable giving, or more goods and services, which would further stimulate the economy.

6. Greater empowerment.

It is difficult to predict all the ways society would change for the better once government coercion is out of the equation. There would be a whole new set of incentives for a free world, which would affect children as well. Society would encourage independence and hard work rather than dependence and entitlement.

Some might argue that some of children’s freedoms I have listed above are meaningless. The freedom to leave one’s parents or not attend school isn’t helpful if a child is being emotionally or physically manipulated. He or she might not be aware that they have a choice. But that type of manipulation is more likely to happen in a society built on coercion, rather than one built on freedom. In a culture of self-determination and non-aggression, children will glean the message that they deserve respect and choices.

Failures of the current system

Of course, all the above predictions are just that, predictions. There is no guarantee that things would go as well for children in a free society as I hope. There would still be many problems, I’m sure.

Then again, things aren’t perfect for children now. Far from it.

The state can miss horrible cases of abuse despite numerous reports that a child is in danger.  The story of Gabriel Fernandez is one example. On other occasions, the state intervenes unnecessarily. They take children away from parents who did nothing wrong.

As far as basic needs are concerned, there are shortcomings here as well. About 12.9 million children in the United States lived in “food-insecure” households in 2016, according to FeedingAmerica.

School attendance is compulsory and restricts children’s freedom.

The list goes on.

So a voluntaryist society doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be better than what we have now. We deserve better, and so do our children.

You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

When you subscribe to The Daily Bell, you also get a free guide:

How to Craft a Two Year Plan to Reclaim 3 Specific Freedoms.

This guide will show you exactly how to plan your next two years to build the free life of your dreams. It’s not as hard as you think…

Identify. Plan. Execute.

Yes, deliver THE DAILY BELL to my inbox!


Biggest Currency Reboot in 100 Years?
In less than 3 months, the biggest reboot to the U.S. dollar in 100 years could sweep America.
It has to do with a quiet potential government agreement you’ve never heard about.

  • Earn nest

    Hopeless pipe dreaming I’m afraid. But a time may come.

    • Don Duncan

      The “hopeless pipe dreaming” is found in the coercive, collectivist mindset. Those who have freed themselves (a psychological journey) can easily predict a better life living freely in a voluntarist society. If we speak out, especially in the arts, e.g., movie scripts like “The Matrix” and “The Postman” an awakening is possible.

      • Daniel Hackett

        blah blah blah

        • AtlasAikido

          Without throwing the arts and so on out with the blah bathwater

          Observing and Recognizing Reactance Vs Felt Sense (nope everything is not ok)

          If someone told you there was a brown liquid that would solve all your problems you would probably say nope!

          And yet…

          “blah, blah, blah” feels good doesn’t it? Your art form?

          Chocolate and coffee break…

      • Earn nest

        Well they’ve been increasing in control here over a hundred years.

  • So; nobody will care for orphans without being forced to?
    How ’bout if they’re paid to by a charity?
    What’s stopping people from fostering children?
    Where did we get the illusion that coercion against honest, peaceful adults is required to care for orphans?

    • Don Duncan

      That illusion (delusion) is a corolary of the coercive, collectivist political paradigm crippling every nation. This dangerous superstition threatens the furture of our species. A new voluntarist, individualist paradigm is essential to our survival individually and as a species.

      • Daniel Hackett

        You don’t think the super rich doing whatever they want might be crippling the nation? Freedom is a zero sum game. You only get more by taking it off others. Government has a necessary role in ensuring the maximum freedom for everybody. Anarchy is just another sort of tyranny. I can’t believe I have to point it out, it’s so obvious. But you do all appear either incredibly stupid or completely delusional.

        • Don Duncan

          The only people who are “doing whatever they want” are those with political power that shouldn’t exist. But is does, thanks to the majority who grant it to rulers who they fantasize are representives. That system minimizes freedom or more accurately should be called, self-enslavement. Anarchy is the rejection of giving away your sovereignty, i.e., no rulers, no tyranny.

          Freedom is not a limited resource that needs to be rationed by so-called leaders. Freedom is not granted, buy starts with the independent individual who refused to renounce his independence. It is a personal choice that no one can physically take away. It must be given up, psychologically.

          The delusional are willfully blind (stupid) in order to keep their belief in the face of reality.

        • Marten

          Are you another totally unemployable product of our Higher Education System ??????? ” Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to You ” Jean-Paul Sartre

        • The welfare state is a zero sum game.
          Voluntary transactions are mutually beneficial or they wouldn’t happen.
          In a voluntary economy the participants benefit from every transaction they voluntarily make.
          That’s what they used to call the ‘blessings of liberty’.

        • snow27

          In claiming that freedom is a zero-sum game, you are implying that it is limited. Thus, are you saying that in order to ensure maximum freedom, government should dole a little bit out to each person?!?

        • Ed

          “Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a Great Leap Forward that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children. In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.” ~Robert Higgs

    • Jen Lade

      Right, I agree with you. That’s my argument in this article.

      • sorry. the first time i looked, it just gave me introductory paragraphs and a ”Click here for more”.

    • The only reason the waiting list to adopt isn’t about 1,000 times longer (and it’s already sinfully long) is because government is in the way. They inspect every situation to death, it’s a two-year project (it was in the 1980s for a friend of our missionary work), and it’s still iffy.

      There is even a long long list of parents waiting to adopt Down Syndrome kids. Many of them want a peer for their own child.

      On welfare issues, in the 1800s there were mutual benefit societies, something like the medical share groups today.

      • Collectivists believe that anything worth doing is worth doing by force.

        • aj54

          tell that to my ancestors who carved this country out of a wilderness; there were compulsory fees to support schools, roads, etc. Ever read the Mayflower Compact? Know who signed it? Ever heard of the Flushing Remonstrance? Know who signed it? When’s the last time you read the Constitution? Know who signed it?

          • Exactly what are you saying?

          • aj54

            “Collectivists believe that anything worth doing is worth doing by force.”

            there has been much done by force that was not for collectivism, and much done for the sake of collectivism not done by force. History proves that your idea is not accurate.

          • all your examples of collectives initiating force support my statement.

          • Don Duncan

            Collectivists believe that the group is all, the individual is only valuable when strengthening/contributing to the group. Who decides what actions contribute to the health of the group? Majority vote? Or an elite who rep the group? No matter. The means to achieve a “healthy” group are based on the higher value and the individual is on the bottom. Therefore, sacrifice of the individual, rights be damned, are done by force. It’s the logical conclusion when the abstracted concept of “group” is divorced from its physical parts, individuals. This requires the separation of the concrete from the abstract, from which it got its meaning. It requires psychological compartmentalization which leads to a disconect from reality and the contradictions that follow.

            It’s faulty epistemology. It impedes reason.

  • “… the issue that held me back from being a full-fledged anarchist was…”

    Now that you ARE a “full-fledged anarchist”, consider the final step: Autarchy (self rule).



    (Both of these articles by Robert LeFevre are available for re-publication.)

  • Poppo

    Welcome to Orwell’s 1984, or is it Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

  • Daniel Hackett

    Wow, is this a third grade essay? Or just a joke? In your huge list of failures of the current system is one case where government got it wrong. No need for any more, that will suffice. The benefits appear to be that children would not have to attend school. Can’t see any problem there.

    • Jen Lade

      I guess I could have included more examples of government failure, but that wasn’t the point. The article was about a society without government and how children could thrive in it.

      • Ephraiyim

        And also, unless one is living under a rock people do not need to be reminded of govt failures.
        Government in all forms, other than individually voluntary ones, are failures by default. All government is evil, except, maybe, one’s that are wholly voluntary.
        Not sure I’m totally convinced of that either.
        A perfect monarchy with a perfect leader is the only real solution and Yeshua hasn’t come yet.
        But…a purely voluntary form…well maybe until His Kingdom comes.
        So how do we get there?

        • Jesus.

          • Ephraiyim

            Meant how do we get to the voluntary form.

          • AtlasAikido

            One person at a time. E.g. Home School. Those who don’t get it, get it when they do it. Free oneself. That’s all one can do. It progresses and cues thusly and so on. A form of natural order that is stupifying to some. Each person doing their own thing creates a path in the forest. No need for top down command control of govt. Self governance what’s that some ask? Home School…

          • All we can do right now is to share the message of liberty as we expose the works of darkness. But the only reason people talk about helping the helpless is because they live in a culture with a Christian legacy.

            Christians established the very idea of charity. Orphanages grew from the custom of Christian couples to rescue babies thrown away by pagan mothers. Hospitals grew from monasteries that took in the sick. Universities started with the Irish monks of the legacy of St. Patrick who preserved so many of the ancient classics alongside the Bible, while marauders burned the libraries on the continent, then Charlemagne invited them to establish centers of learning in his capital. The lie of Christ constraints me.

          • AtlasAikido

            Was he not Home Schooled? Was he not a Teacher and Student in such?

          • The priests asked about Jesus, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?”

          • Yes

        • Don Duncan

          We “get there” when enough people say “NO!” to the initiation of force by anyone and give no authorities a moral exemption. But who will govern you ask? Governance does NOT require a coercive government. Nor does it require a forfeit of personal sovereignty. Any psychologically mature citizen can self-govern. Those not mature will be held in check by the community of those who are. Everything done by force can be done better, cheaper, faster, by free choice.

    • Government IS the problem. Shools don’t teach, the teachers are barely literate (with a few notable exceptions, when the kids learning to socialize in the government schools they are socialized by peers into things their parents know are bad for them, they are socialized into government sycophants.

  • Darai Delgado

    “People always tend to think that everything would be worst if something changes it’s status quo…” What if everything can be better and we are always imaging the worst scenario? This is exactly why I love this article and most of The Daily Bell content… what if everything can be better? 🙂

    • Jen Lade

      Thanks for your comment. We always want to offer alternatives rather than simply attack the status quo. And yes, things could be better!

  • Leah Ackland

    Jen, I am always impressed by your writing. You’re so articulate and intelligent. Despite how awesome you are, I disagree with some of your points. That said, I love how thought provoking these topics are! Looking forward to the next!

    • Jen Lade

      Thanks, Leah! And disagreement is fine! We can engage in some respectful discourse anytime.

  • aj54

    the problem with the voluntaryist model is that it assumes goodwill on the part of human beings, and ignores the sickness of greed, which we have plenty of examples of. There is already a nearly free market in children, it is called trafficking. Who will pay for all these private services that would be required to step in as necessary? Who does the observing and reporting? How much will be the shakedown to someone who needs services? This sounds like Big Brother. …and people here all gooey and starry eyed….just imagine how good it can be, it could be better! Read more history! who said nature abhors a vacuum? If you tear down the Constitution, you will not be left with something better, you will get whatever thuggish dictator can buy off the security services, and now that the .01% owns 99% of everything, the only competition is going to be for King of the Hill. Everyone who thinks this sounds great should get together and buy a big island, and plenty of guns and boats to keep everyone else off. Come on, doesn’t it sound great!

    • Ed

      How do you know? Evidence requested.

    • Don Duncan

      You, aj54, are the one who assumes goodwill on the part of chosen rulers. You are the one who assumes the rulers we have are better, even if profoundly flawed, than the “thuggish dictator” we would get without surrender of our sovereignty. Your argument is: “Voluntarily give up your freedom of choice now or have it taken by force”.

      You would be correct if the public embraced a voluntaryist/authoritarian paradigm. But that is contradictory and not embraced in the private sector. If a business were to announce it demands all patronize it or be forced to do so, it would be laughed at. If it did try to use force it would ruin its reputation and lose all respect. Without a majority who willfully sacrifice their freedom of choice to the business world, no business could use force.

      But a majority do sacrifice their freedom of choice in the public political paradigm. Even if they don’t vote, they accept the dictates of a ruler, be he a lawmaker, enforcer, or judge, as morally valid, morally superior, to their rights. So, we have these rulers using their monopoly on force to create business monopolies which are an extention of their control over us. And “the only competition is…for King of the Hill”. The very thing you say would happen with a voluntaryist paradigm. You can’t concieve of a free world, a world of people self-governing. You can’t concieve of governance without a government. Why?

  • Samarami

    How many of you reading this who are parents (or grandparents, or great-grandparents) would stand by and allow children — any children — to go undernourished, unclothed or abused in other vile and unspeakable ways???
    I’ve said forever that the family unit is the only legitimate governing unit. All others claiming “jurisdiction” are coercive interlopers. I submit that in the absence of collectivism all adults will naturally take responsibility to protect and nourish the young when natural parents refuse to do so. And irresponsible kids who bear children will be soundly walloped by responsible adults before they will see children go naked or undernourished.
    It’s impossible to see how freedom will “ring out” when you’ve never experienced freedom — or even experienced the freedom to THINK free.

  • Don Duncan

    When I was 16 (1958) my mentor (74) told me the purpose of school should be to teach HOW TO THINK, not what to think, or what is. He said after graduation we could use our own cognitive ability to learn from there.

    If that were done in school, there would be no state, i.e., no coercive governance.

    Mature, self-reliant, self-responsible people would not choose that paradigm. They would choose a voluntary political paradigm.

    Instead we have a coercive paradigm that teaches self-sacrifice, obedience, and unthinking allegiance to authority. “I pledge allegiance to the flag and the republic for which it stands,…”

    And it works well in creating and preserving a willfully blind, self-enslaved populace.