On juvenile delinquency

Among the oddments that sometimes appear in opinion polls are questions like, “Would you accept a lower standard of living in exchange for” … whatever policy is currently on offer. That policy might range from a climate-change shutdown of all carbon-based energy production, to reduced levels of immigration and foreign trade.

In principle, I approve this recognition of policy trade-offs, and every acknowledgement that, in the red-pilled world beyond political phantasy, “you can’t have your diamond-studded hand-sculptured fondant wedding cake, and eat it, too.” Or in the more modest, Yorkshire version of this important clich√©: “You can’t have the penny and the bun.”

Any concession towards what I remember as reality is welcome at the present day, to me. As a non-economist, however, I regret that the trade-offs are only expressed in money. They apply also, and frequently instead, to things the modern world doesn’t count, because they are intangibles.

Take the example of elephants.

From an interview with (the magnificent) Mary Eberstadt, I have learnt that an elephant calf will stay within a few feet of his mother for the first eight years of his life. I was vaguely aware of this from my travels in exotic countries, but now I have a tag to put on it. I will file it under “family values.”

Gentle reader, who may be a zookeeper or mahout, might ask an obvious, possibly rhetorical question. What happens if we separate mother and child earlier? One answer is, baby elephant dies. Another is that he doesn’t, but then you may have, in later life, a juvenile delinquent. And believe me, a juvenile delinquent who weighs upwards of three metric tonnes can be a considerable social problem.

Now, fish are notorious for abandoning their children, but not whales and other sophisticated seaborne mammals. Indeed, as we ascend the dignities of the animal kingdom we find that the higher animals require, in addition to the installation of “instincts” by nature, regimes of liberal education. Parents are first teachers throughout that kingdom, at least among the elites, in which we tend to include ourselves.¬†One must be taught how to be an elephant, and likewise, how to be a human being.

Orphanages have been established among men, and certain animals still accept orphans, to make the best of difficult situations. Nature herself has been known to wink at a good back-up plan. But she prefers her original arrangements, and is conservative, if not reactionary, by disposition.

Let me mention a distinction of my own. Sophisticated animals with child-rearing skills tend towards rule, in the animal kingdom. Animals without, tend towards “becoming” — their food. This is a vague inference, however, and I would not recommend it to a student doing a biology exam.

Rather, I would consider such things in a general approach to life. At the risk of challenge from the speciesists, I would go so far as to suggest that humans may be superior to elephants (in some respects; I admit that elephants are heavier). Our children may require even more parental training, and the consequences of omitting this — or “economizing” on it, as it were — could be more grievous. (Traditionally, even fathers were involved.)

And while this may have little to do with money, directly, a world of trade-offs comes into view.