Kid: "I want a toy"To a child, this is a simple matter. He sees you buy things with money and just assumes that whenever you want something you just conjure up the money to pay for it. In other words, he can not yet grasp cause and effect. He doesn't abstract that you must earn money first, then offer that money to someone in exchange for something. He assumes that you want something first, then for some reason there is this weird adult ritual where you must offer this green paper stuff for it. Ultimately, it is just the desire to have something that is primary to the child, not the work or production that came before it.
Parent: "Toys cost money"
Kid: "So, just get some money"
Parent: "And where should I get the money?"
Kid: "Just go to the bank or use that plastic card thing"
Because they regard the green stuff as a mere formality that doesn't represent anything real, this leads the child to the following conclusion:
Kid: "I wish everyone just had a lot of green stuff (money) so you could just have whatever you want" or "I wish everything were free."While this seems like a cute anecdote to illustrate a child's first stage of conceptual development it is actually much more than that. It represents the conceptual level of the entire left including the president, the federal reserve chairman, and Nobel Prize-winning Keynesian economists. With respect to economics, I have blogged about this phenomena at length in at least three prior posts: "Have You Had 'Enough': Obama's Inversion of Reality", Cargo Cult Economics, and Production and the Primacy of Existence.
Naturally, this phenomena is not restricted to the field of economics. At the outset of the gun control debate, where profound conceptual level abstractions were being considered regarding the government's role in protecting individuals from crime, the purpose and meaning of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the state's role in regulating the sale of firearms, the states role with regard to the mentally ill vis-a-vis criminal behavior, etc. the Obama administration offered letters, not from his adult constituents or legal scholars, but from grade school children. According to this report:
....the White House released handwritten letters to the President from some of the children who will be at the White House when President Obama unveils his plan to prevent gun violence. The kids offer their own ideas on gun control - ideas that go significantly further than the President's plan.Naturally, like with money, the children operate at a first order conceptual stage. They know that a man with guns killed children. Therefore, they ask the president to stop this from happening by getting rid of guns. I remember thinking in a similar way as a kid growing up during the cold war. Nuclear bombs were scary to me because they threatened to annihilate mankind. Therefore, I reasoned, they should just get rid of the nuclear bombs. Of course, at that age I couldn't comprehend the difference between the West and the communist Soviet Union, nor could I understand that nuclear weapons had most likely averted another world war by threatening such destruction.
As I discussed in previous posts here and here, simplicity is the essence of good thinking within a certain context, namely that prior facts or principles be fully integrated into a conclusion. For example, Einstein's theory that "matter is energy" sounds very simple, but it integrates an enormous body of prior knowledge. The case of children not grasping cause and effect nor being able to integrate a vast body of prior principles such as the concepts of freedom, individual rights, and self-defense does not represent an example of "simple" thinking, but rather, an example of primitive conceptual development and therefore has no place in a serious discussion. In the case of adults making the same errors, it is an example of illogical, irrational, or wrong thinking. In the case of adults exploiting childrens' errors for propaganda, it is an example of evil.