Thomas Sowell

These and other ugly and dangerous consequences of trendy courts and hip attitudes among parents and teachers go back to a Utopian vision of the world that often passes as "expertise" because this vision has become pervasive among those who are considered to be experts, despite lacking any factual evidence that their expertise has made anything better.

The crucial factor is that experts pay no price for being wrong, even when children, parents and society at large pay an enormous price. "Liberation's Children" points out again and again how kids who are allowed to run wild are often unhappy and confused kids, even when they are given both material things and virtually no adult supervision.

One of the modern mothers says: "I can give them my opinion, tell them how I feel. But they have to decide for themselves." The notion that children can raise themselves, and create for themselves a moral universe that took whole societies centuries to evolve, is one of those notions that fit George Orwell's remark that some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them. "No ordinary man could be such a fool," Orwell said.

It is considered hip stuff to buy into these new ideas. In reality, you can find such nonsense in 18th century writers in France and England. But people who are ignorant of history are forever imagining that they have come up with something new, as they repeat centuries-old fallacies that have led to disasters many times before.

What is amazing is how gullibly parents, teachers, courts and society at large have accepted pretentious nonsense with no hard evidence behind it and no track record of success after it has been applied. After all, it was the children raised by the permissive philosophy of the 1960s who had rising rates of crime, venereal disease, academic deficiencies, and suicides.

It is impossible to summarize the many insights of "Liberation's Children" or Kay Hymowitz's other book, "Ready or Not." Get a copy of each and discover their sobering message for yourself.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate