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Get Normative, Wuss

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Steven Landsburg writes in Slate on the economics of spanking, without normative comment:

    Spanking, by contrast, is an equal-opportunity punishment; it works equally well whether you’re rich or poor. So simple economics suggests that the very poor, with fewer alternatives available, should spank their kids more – and they do. Professor Bruce Weinberg of Ohio State University has studied this. He found that if you’re a kid in a $6,000-a-year household, you probably get spanked every six weeks or so. If your parents’ annual income goes up to $17,000, you’ll get spanked about once every four months. As income rises above about $17,000, spanking falls off more slowly; $40,000 and $120,000 households are not much different from $17,000 households. That makes sense; in today’s America, you don’t have to be very wealthy before your kid has a Game Boy, so even a $20,000 household has good non-spanking alternatives.

    ….Weinberg’s study finds that the poor spank more even after you’ve accounted for all of these effects. The question is why.

    Here’s one good alternative to the economic explanation: University of New Hampshire sociologist Murray Straus has published multiple studies concluding that children who are spanked are less successful as adults. If the link is causal – that is, if being spanked actually lowers your earnings potential – and if spanking runs in families, then we have an alternative explanation for Weinberg’s numbers: Low-income parents are more likely to spank their children because low-income parents are more likely to have been spanked themselves. Or maybe it’s as simple as this: Poverty breeds frustration, and frustrated parents lash out at their kids. Does any reader have a better story?

Makes obvious sense, but Landsburg refuses to pass judgment and make the obvious statement: break the cycle, stop spanking and improve your child’s chances for a better life regardles of your current socio-economic status. None of this is inevitable, and instead of explaining it away by providing easy alibis, provide the facts as they are (facts being value neutral, more or less), but then make it clear that following the pattern is still unacceptable, not inevitable, and emphasize that group behavior never absolves personal responsibility.

He might have also thrown in that children are to be cherished, not seen as burdensome baggage or punching bags, and that being a good parent is a person’s most important responsibility after personal hygiene (kidding about the hygiene, sort of).

Corporal punishment is morally wrong, breeds resentment, teaches violence, and lastly IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. At various times in their lives most children need to be ridden like horses to be kept in line, safe, and on their way to becoming adjusted, productive adults. BUT, the challenge is to do this without resorting to violence or even the threat of violence. Next time, Mr. Landsburg, mention a few of these things and actually accomplish something – wuss.

I list the Lessin Spanking book below only to issustrate that their are still assholes out there trying to justify this barbaric, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE behavior with references to the Bible, which can also be selectively cited to support slavery and genocide.

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About Eric Olsen