What really caught my eye about this story is that there are two separate, but very similar incidents that have both recently occurred in the U.S. and the U.K. where the state thinks it can get off telling parents they can't babysit each others children.
In Michigan, a woman has been threatened by the state for babysitting her neighbor's children:
Each day before the school bus comes to pick up the neighborhood's children, Lisa Snyder did a favor for three of her fellow moms, welcoming their children into her home for about an hour before they left for school.
Regulators who oversee child care, however, don't see it as charity. Days after the start of the new school year, Snyder received a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continued, she'd be violating a law aimed at the operators of unlicensed day care centers.
In England, two women (who happen to be police officers) were told by the state that they were breaking the law by babysitting each others children without registering with the government. A spokesman for the government said:
"Generally, mothers who look after each other's children are not providing childminding for which registration is required, as exemptions apply to them, for example because the care is for less than two hours or it takes place on less than 14 days in a year.
Where such arrangements are regular and for longer periods, then registration is usually required."
Seriously? The Michigan case has prompted state lawmakers to introduce legislation allowing parents to babysit their neighbors kids without a license from the state. That's right- they're going to pass a law to give Michigan residents permission to babysit each others kids, as if they need permission from the government to do so.
Why not instead, repeal the bad law that makes their perfectly legal, normal, and healthy behavior a crime? Lawmakers are always interested in passing new laws, never repealing old, bad laws. and this is a textbook example. It's even more interesting to see it happen at virtually the same time in two different English-speaking countries.
I think England's Mr. de Havilland had it right this Monday when he decried "the utter derangement of British political culture" by saying of this recent incident with the two policewomen babysitting each others kids:
When two working women who look after each other's children are told they are breaking the law by doing so because they are not registered with the state to do that, the only sane and moral thing to do is to break the law and to urge as many other people as possible to do the same.
I very much agree and like the sound of that! Cases like this provide perfect opportunities for some active, and peaceful civil disobedience. And with the utterly deranged bills that legislators on both sides of the pond have in the works, we may need all the practice in civil disobedience that we can get!