Imagine that I were a working- or lower-middle-class parent who sent my sixteen-year-old daughter across the country, driving alone because she liked to drive so much and she was such a good driver and I wanted her to express her independence. Imagine further that on the trip she had a horrible accident or was raped or killed. What kind of parent would I be? Who would be responsible? Who would we blame?
Now, imagine that I were a wealthy parent who put my child in an expensive sailboat and sent her around the world to sail, because she was such a good sailor and enjoyed sailing and I wanted her to express her autonomy. Imagine further that she got into trouble about halfway through her trip—quelle surprise—and that another country's government had to charter a passenger plane to try to find her and then had to rescue her. Would I be a good parent? Would it be just to ask that country's citizens to pick up the tab for my parenting decisions? Who should be blamed for the mess?
In short, what makes the second real parent better than the first hypothetical parent? And, what makes either of them better than the "Balloon Boy" parents?