Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Child Support Industry

Take a woman who can't afford a child and society calls her a victim or a hero and will grant her an abortion - or an endless supply of welfare checks. Find a man who can't afford a child and society calls him a deadbeat dad and tosses him into jail. At least that is the perspective of Kathleen Parker in Save The Males (Random House, 2008). She writes:

It's hard to cough up the dough [for child support] when your broke, harder still if you're behind bars.... Indeed, the New York Times reported in 2005 that 70 per cent of child support debt is owed by men who owe $10,000 a year or less or who have no earnings at all....

The child support industry has been a windfall for states and for middle-class divorcing women. Economist Robert McNeely and legal scholar Cynthia McNeely go so far as to suggest that... governmental policies [on child support] have led to destruction of the family "by creating financial incentives to divorce [and further incentives resulting in] the prevention of families by creating financial incentives not to marry upon conceiving a child."

Penalizing errant fathers has become the only form of chivalry modern woman will tolerate, but it is chivalry, based on the idea that Uncle Sam must come to the rescue of the nation's distressed damsels. The real result of the child support industry, however, has been the creation of a system that grants bureaucrats unprecedented access to private records and control over the lives of people, most of whom have committed no offense. As investigative reporter Robert O'Harrow Jr. wrote in The Washington Post, commenting on the expansion of federal child support initiatives, "Never before have federal officials had the legal authority and technological ability to... keep tabs on Americans accused of nothing."

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