Kids Rights: trade

If you’ve ever talked politics with me, you know I have a thing about voluntary trade.

When a voluntary trade takes place, it is always mutually beneficial. Both of the people involved are getting what they want out of it, no one is being coerced, and the world is a better place because the exchange took place.

And yet, good kids are getting suspended for buying candy in school.

Being an entrepreneur at this early stage can give more valuable lessons than can be learned in a classroom. A child can learn that being a good citizen means helping others by fulfilling their needs and providing a useful service. They can learn math skills and simple economics.

These principles were recently demonstrated by season 4 of HBO’s The Wire, which I know is a favorite of the blogosphere. That season, focused on kids in a Baltimore city school, showed one character, Randy Wagstaff, who was selling candy in school, and got in trouble for it. The trouble he was in cascaded until it ruined his life, and all because he showed some initiative, and the system shut it down. I don’t think that is the way to help kids who are just trying to do right by themselves and everyone around them.

Suspending kids who engage in this kind of trade is counter-productive, and a travesty. They should instead be lauded for having that spark of ingenuity and the drive to not just sit around playing video games, but to DO something.

Finally, you all know, or should know, my take on black markets. When something like candy is banned in a school, a black market will form. Obviously! And participation in the black market should be lauded! Free mutually beneficial trade is a boon to all who participate in it, and when your participation is underground, it can’t be taxed or have other extra burdens placed on it.