I have a four-year-old son. Great kid.
Every day he tries new things he hasn’t tried before. He also tries things he *has* tried before which didn’t work. Will it work this time, under slightly different circumstances? He is eager to find out, because he is four years old.
My job is to set limits, teach him what works, and guide him in the right direction. It is exhausting.
I’d love to believe he would behave perfectly without the rules his mother and I impose, but that’s not the way it works.
Every day healthy children discover new things they can do, and healthy parents stop them before they break grandma’s china, injure themselves, and set the house on fire.
When this discipline is too harsh, kids learn not to try anything new, and development stops.
Without discipline, learning happens only when the kids’ actions bring disaster – and too often, only when that disaster directly affects those kids. And without more discipline, lessons learned from disaster will most likely be the wrong lessons.
Healthy companies try new things. Healthy governments set limits – not to stop development, but to steer away from predictable disaster.
Starting with Reagan, the GOP has assumed that “government is the problem”.
This view makes sense, if you’re 11 years old and resentful of seemingly arbitrary rules imposed by grownups. Responsible adults recognize “government is the problem” as an adolescent attempt to reject important rules, inviting predictable disaster if it succeeds.
Trump’s proposed tax cuts are an extreme, fraudulent, self-serving version of this decades-old lie.
“Starve the beast”, “get the government off our backs”, “disrupt & innovate”, “run the government like a business”, “cut taxes” – all are attempts to replace adult discipline with childish self-interest. Experience shows that markets don’t govern themselves, companies don’t discipline themselves, problems don’t solve themselves, poverty and homelessness don’t go away when we treat them as crimes, etc.
We need grownups in the White House.
We need leaders to be personally affected by the disasters they create – and whenever possible, we need citizens to be insulated from disasters created by others.
Experienced adult discipline must be properly balanced with inventive childlike exuberance. Replacing either one with the other leads to disaster.