We Lose Freedom Because Parents Won’t Do Their Jobs

Randolph Bourne famously said that “war is the health of the state.” A corollary to Bourne long written here is that “crises” are the state’s oxygen.

Which is really just a statement of the obvious. Politicians are always looking to do something, because doing something enhances their power.

This hopefully explains why Washington is always in crisis mode. Whether it’s because of an allegedly warming planet, too much debt allegedly requiring more taxation, too little debt allegedly requiring more government spending, too many imports, too few exports (both an impossibility, but so what…?), companies that are too successful such that politicians must break them up, companies that are too unsuccessful such that politicians must bail them out (to somehow save the economy!), economies that aren’t growing fast enough, economies growing too fast (they claim this causes inflation!), viruses that allegedly threaten our health such that we must be locked down, and of course, social media sites that have gone viral such that politicians must protect us from them. It’s never ending, which should tell readers something, including about the political class’s freakout over TikTok.

Americans have freely chosen to download the TikTok app for their entertainment, to grow their small businesses or personal brands through the medium, and yes, some use it to get information. Politicians have decided the latter is a crisis based on the location not of TikTok (it’s headquartered in Los Angeles and Singapore), but because the internet technology company that created it (ByteDance) is located in Beijing. Politicians, and rhetorically freedom-loving conservatives in particular, used to fear China because it was impoverished due to a near total lack of freedom, but now that its people have much more freedom, including freedom to produce for us, apparently that’s a problem too. See the previous paragraph if you’ve developed whiplash.  

About the informational aspect of TikTok, it wasn’t long ago that conservatives were cheering Elon Musk and his free speech absolutism. With good reason. Except that they’re now seeking to ban TikTok based on a belief that it’s informing the wrong kind of speech. Which means Republicans are presently acting like Democrats. Sorry, but free speech isn’t situational.

Considering TikTok as a driver of political persuasion more broadly, let’s try to relax. And while relaxing, critics of it might point yours truly to even one political site in the U.S. that can claim even a 25th of TikTok’s 170 million user popularity. If they can’t, might they logically conclude that users aren’t patronizing the site for politics as is?

To which some conservatives and Republicans will no doubt reply that the problem with TikTok is that it’s largely patronized by young people. If so, the national security angle bruited by TikTok’s critics is rather discredited, but if it’s about protecting the kids, why don’t conservatives just act like conservatives rather than taking our freedom? Think about it.

For the longest time members of the right have wisely disdained victimhood, while at the same time cheering on parents to more actively parent their kids to quality outcomes. No argument there. If the fear is that time spent by young people on TikTok isn’t edifying, or if it’s making them Maoist, Biden-ist, Trump-ist, or simply uninformed overall (thus euthanizing the notion of TikTok as a political site), parents should police these problems themselves. Get involved, tie smartphone usage or ownership of same to specific time limits, specific sites patronized, or name your rules. It’s all acceptable because individual choice is acceptable, and it’s no doubt something that TikTok’s owners would likely cheer since the goal of any business is to win users who are prosperous, and more important, who will keep coming back.

What’s not acceptable is that we must all lose our freedom because parents won’t, or aren’t doing their jobs. Of course, to even suggest do-nothing parents are the problem vis-à-vis TikTok presumes that there’s a TikTok problem or “crisis” to begin with. See above if you’re confused.

Republished from RealClear Markets


  • John Tamny

    John Tamny is a popular speaker and author in the U.S. and around the world. His speech topics include "Government Barriers to Economic Growth," "Why Washington and Wall Street are Better Off Living Apart," and more.

    View all posts
Scroll to Top