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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cut child-support payments in half for children born out of wedlock

Instapundit recently called out Ann Althouse for having zero tolerance for bias against women while at the same time having broad tolerance for extreme legal bias against men. Eighteen years ago I wrote in the Stanford Review about my own encounters with this mindset:
I could hardly believe my ears. Was this really the same woman friend who for years had been adamantly pro-choice? Where she had always insisted that to force a woman to carry a child to term was an unconstitutional slavery, she now was now insisting that unintended pregnancy warranted a lifetime of slavery.
Of course we all know the punch line. The subject under discussion was male obligations:
Watch out guys. Do not be lulled in to thinking that your "liberal" girlfriend's attitudes towards sex make pre-marital sex risk-less for you. Feminism is only interested in sex being as risk-free as possible for women, and that means shifting as much of the risk as possible onto you.
Since women are the one's who get to choose whether to continue a pregnancy they should face a strong financial incentive to bear children within marriage (where the outcomes for children are far superior). My proposal at the time:
Half might be the best compromise for an already compromised situation, leaving strong incentives for both would-be fathers and mothers not to conceive or bear children outside of marriage. Half of a divorced father's child support payments is still a tremendous obligation, considering that, for women, most people judge it a tyrannical wrong to impose any obligation to become a parent. But there is a baby involved, whose mother has already proven herself irresponsible by having a child out of wedlock. The strength of that need calls for splitting the incentive equally between the man and the woman, even though the woman is the one who ultimately has the choice.
The current rules for how much support the bigger-earning ex has to pay in child support to the more-custodial ex are complex and under the proposed reform that would still be the case. The only thing that would be simple is the ratio of the single man's obligations to the married man's obligations: one half.

That isn't to say that existing child-support levels in cases of divorce are correct. I believe they are far too high, and generally try to squeeze as much out of the man as possible, going back again for more every time he gets a raise. The proper level would be one that strongly deters the woman from seeking a divorce, so that she will only do so when a marriage is genuinely intolerable, and not enable her to simply enjoy the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed at the man's expense but without providing the partnership and assistance that justified this support within the marriage.

Nice essay by Dalrock on the need for women to face a heavy loss of support if they seek divorce, otherwise the institution of marriage will not function and men will be deprived of basic fairness. Hey women: if he's not married to you, why the hell should he be supporting you as if he was? Thus to a rough approximation, the level of support that a divorced woman with children should enjoy should be half that of a married woman's, and that level of support should be halved again for a never married woman.

Mrs. Instapundit (Dr. Helen Smith) has a new book on the extreme disincentives to marriage that the feminist legal revolution has created (Men on Strike). On this front, it might seem that having a man's financial obligations to any children he sires within marriage be double his obligation to children sired outside marriage would increase the disincentive to marry, but not so. The obligations of married men would remain unchanged. They would face no added dis-incentive.

There would just be less dis-incentive for men to risk siring a child outside of marriage, but the point here is that the obligations of men in this situation are already much higher than they should be, certainly in comparison to the obligations imposed on women, where our society has decided as a matter of protected constitutional right that women have no obligations whatsoever:
His body, his labor, his hopes for family in the future, are all confiscated over the exact same unintended pregnancy for which our constitutional process has decided that women must not be forced to sacrifice anything. [Again, from my 1995 article.]
That imbalance is a moral crime. Unfortunately, it has only gotten worse over the last eighteen years.


UPDATE   Neo-neocon makes a different suggestion: that unmarried men be allowed to opt-out of child support in exchange for their relinquishing of all parental rights. That's closer to equality with the present standard for women (who face NO un-consented-to obligations) than my proposal is, and for that reason is even less likely to ever be adopted in our anti-male culture. Would it provide a better balance between the needs of children and the liberty interests of adults? Probably not, as it gives a free pass to men who like the idea of having lots of children they take no responsibility for.


My old Stanford Review and Thinker articles

I managed recently to restore a lot of these old articles that I had long ago collected on my rawls.org website. They all got wiped out sometime around 2000 when I switched from Mac to PC but earlier this year I figured out how to add my old Mac-created website to my newer PC-created one. 

A lot of it bears the test of time I think. Mr. Knowitall is fun, but the most important of the restored stuff is under the "Moral Science" tab, like how to vastly improve both crime control and the protection of liberty at the same time. Instead of protecting liberty indirectly as we do now, by tying the hands of the police, protect liberty directly, by articulating the full ideal of liberty and placing it in the Constitution so that nothing that shouldn't be criminalized can be criminalized.

That is a much more secure way to protect liberty and it does not depend on any restrictions on police methods. The apparent conflict between liberty and crime control disappears, and is seen to be just an artifact of our clumsy indirect way of protecting liberty.

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