A few years ago I devised a clever way to get my kids to “share” their dessert with me: the Dad Tax. I gave a simple explanation of what a tax is, and then I began levying taxes on everything from cookies to Halloween candy. When my kids have, say, a cookie, I simply announce, “Dad Tax,” and then take a part of the cookie for myself. I’ve been imposing the Dad Tax for a few years now, and while my kids are not happy with it, they have more or less resigned themselves to the fact that they owe and must pay the tax. Perhaps somewhat unfairly, the Dad Tax is unpredictable. No flat rate here, folks. Sometimes the Dad Tax is especially onerous, often depending on how hungry I am at the moment.

Lately, I’ve begun to contemplate the potential long-term implications of the Dad Tax. One thing is certain: my kids hate taxes. Consequently, I wonder if I am turning them into libertarians. This led me to further wondering if certain parenting tactics might lead kids toward one political ideology or another.

For example, what if I let the free market dictate which kid gets more of my time and attention? According to this approach, the kid who wants or needs my time and attention most will be willing to “pay” more for it, maybe in the form of good behavior, chores around the house, etc. Would that make my kids more or less likely to be conservatives?

Alternatively, I could have a regulated, centrally planned market. With this approach, I would determine in advance an equitable distribution of time and attention. Would this make my kids more or less inclined to become socialists?

And what about spanking? Is this a liberal or conservative tactic? While the practice is often associated with conservatives, isn’t it arguably a liberal approach? The government (i.e., parent) intervenes in the market (i.e., the kid’s behavior) to control it in a way deemed desirable by the government. In any case, is it more likely to make kids politically liberal, or conservative?

Is the Dad Tax unfair? Should it be eliminated? Do parenting tactics have any effect on kids’ political ideology?