A Woman's Right to be Criminal
December 5, 2002, by Roger F. Gay
I read a USA Today article on child support by Martin Kasindorf entitled, Men wage battle on 'paternity fraud'. Paternity fraud is when a woman names the wrong man as a father for the purpose of forcing him to pay child support. The words 'paternity fraud' were in quotes as if they referred to someone's questionable characterization rather than a straightforward fact. This might have moved me to let out a long sigh except that I knew it would not have been worth the trouble. I know from experience that 'paternity fraud' would not have been in quotes unless we were being prepared for some unadulterated bullshit.
I shouldn't give the impression that I'm particularly peeved at Mr. Kasindorf or USA Today. As an apparently objective journalist Mr. Kasindorf attempted to present the two sides of the story; pro and con. Tens of millions of men are likely quite relieved that attacking them relentlessly without acknowledging that another side might exist is no longer considered objective. We can't expect journalists to be experts on everything, so perhaps presenting two sides to everything is the best we can hope for. But it makes me wonder when objective journalism will tackle issues like rape, pillage, and torture. There must be somebody out there who can argue in favor of those things maybe one of those people who thinks that the Constitution is outdated and we should be more open to ideas from other cultures.
I'm likely incapable of this kind of objectivity since I know something about the subject. For example; Mr. Kasindorf, innocently I presume, presented two false pieces of information early in his article. He claimed that taxpayers have an $18 billion annual stake in child support. He also claimed that "married men face a 500-year-old legal presumption that any child born during a marriage is the husband's. The concept, based in English law, is aimed at preventing children from being branded illegitimate."
Taxpayers have little or nothing directly to do with the $18 billion a year paid into the child support enforcement system, mostly by fathers. Only a small portion of that amount is related to recovery of welfare payments and there is no evidence that any of it would not be paid without the federal enforcement system. These are the facts. The operation of the system costs taxpayers around $4.5 billion a year and the percent of child support ordered that is paid has actually declined since the federal child support enforcement system was created. This no doubt is a result of the arbitrary increase in the amounts ordered that have occurred since the program began, forcing more men beyond their ability to pay. The system routinely defrauds taxpayers by forcing regular non-welfare related payments to be made through the enforcement system, which are reported as "collections." Under current federal law, states receive bonus payments out of federal tax dollars for higher "collections."
When Governor Gray Davis (D-CA) vetoed a bill against paternity fraud during his recent re-election campaign, he admitted that the objective of forcing non-fathers to pay is to continue stealing an estimated $40 million a year from taxpayers. If it costs taxpayers $40 million a year to run the game, just stop running the game.
The idea that men are battling 500 year old British common law is one of those new rumors that got old fast. I wish objective journalists would stop repeating it. I first heard it on one of Bill O'Reilly's programs. Apparently, sometimes that's where the spin starts. It's a clever cover story. The blame gets shifted to a bunch of old dead white men and fraud advocates can complain that there are a multitude of complex legal and social problems involved in untangling age-old cultural traditions. Neither the fact that the most of the people who created the current paternity laws are alive and still in public office in the United States nor that 500 year old British common law never supported paternity fraud seems to be of any consequence.
I suppose understanding the English language interferes with my objectivity as well. According to the story, "married men face a 500-year-old legal presumption that any child born during a marriage is the husband's." Presumption is the assertion of a fact without having direct evidence that it is true. One infers that a child born during marrige is the offspring of the husband. When such a presumption is proven untrue, its application is merely a lie. Any law that forces a presumption in the face of contrary evidence is unconstitutional. I don't expect everyone to be a constitutional scholar; but I expect the majority to have sense enough to recognize that intentionally basing a court order on a lie is wrong. For a judge to decide a case on information that she knows to be false is criminal and impeachable. It is an obstruction to justice that is no more acceptable than perjury.
The fact is that the Constitution, which has served as the basis of acceptability of our laws for more than two centuries, leaves very little room for presumptive law. A legal presumption is constitutionally acceptable only when it is always true. Driven by federal funding laws, states have enacted a plethora of presumptive child support laws. These laws provide presumptions that replace circumstantial evidence and the sound logic that is essential to making reasonable decisions. Courts have continued to apply these presumptions long after they been have proven false, basing decisions on false evidence and fallacious logic. Forcing a man to shoulder financial responsibility for a child that is not his is just one example of the child support system operating outside the law. The insatiable quest to increase the amount of federal funding received has transformed the entire system, from establishing paternity and setting award amounts to enforcement of those orders, into a state of complete lawlessness.
There is no end of course, to the number of kooks that slither from the woodwork to defend a woman's right to be criminal and to promote abuse of government power. Their current argument is focused on the idea that disruption of a relationship between a child and a man once thought to be his father is a bad thing. The issue however is obviously not whether relationships between men and children continue. It is about whether men who have been falsely assigned paternity are forced to pay support to the mothers who defrauded them. In some cases it is surely true that these mothers are living with or married to the biological fathers of their children while continuing to collect support from the men they and the child support system are cheating. In other cases women surely collect informally from the real father while forcing the wrong man to pay too.
Mothers often interfere with court ordered visitation; one would expect no more than when she knows that there is no biological connection between the man who is forced to send money and her children. In any case, it is not the payment of money to mothers that establishes or maintains relationships between men and children.
In fact, the arbitrarily high child support awards that exist today do not include credit for men's direct care of children. This often makes it impossible for them to support their children during visitation. The absurdity of the argument that maintaining high payments to the mother is somehow responsible for male-child bonding and continuing a relationship is too much for the rational mind to bear. But can we just leave the wierdos, con-women, and assorted sociopaths out of the public discussion? They are responsible for the current laws. We might need to know what they have to say in order to understand why so many people want to beat the crap out of them.
There is an underlying essence of an historical argument in the defense of paternity fraud. In the 1980s, social extremists claimed that biology does not matter when it comes to relationships between men and children. In defense of the feminist movement to abolish marriage, it was claimed that any male can serve as an adequate if not preferable substitute role model. The argument was presented in support of the strict matriachical society that feminists were gunning for; a society in which mothers own their children and fathers have no family rights. Men generally were to be seen as having no rights at all.
We are all more than a little bit whacko if we cannot recognize the absurdity of extending the "any male" model to enforcement of child support; that a woman should have the right to assign financial responsibility for her children to any man she chooses just because his wallet seems "available." It is his wallet. No one has the right to pick his pocket any more than a thief has the right to steal a woman's purse or a car jacker has the right to throw you and the baby from your own speeding car.
Another angle that has become popular in the last decade is to claim that certain bureaucratic proceedures represent the last word in justice. The argument is based on the fact that some men have the right to challenge paternity before it is established, if they complete and submit the right paper work in the right way at the right time. In most states, married men and fathers of children of women who are married to someone else cannot succesfully challenge paternity. But unmarried men can beat the system by challenging the honesty of the women they have relationships with at the time of a child's birth.
Don't get married. Forget the dream of a trusting relationship; ignore the emotional needs of your prospective life partner. The clever woman will maintain the relationship until after the deadline. You don't have any unalienable rights. Either play or pay. The individual is dead. You are only a man. You interfere with the communist dream of efficient bureacratic totalitarian control. Only the state is important now. If you do not do the paper work properly at the right time, you automatically forfeit your presumed right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The woman and the system will own you. No wonder so many people want to beat the crap out of those who created this system.
I want to end this article by being explicitely non-apologetic about the tone and one-sidedness of my commentary. I do not see it as objective to politely debate the potential legitimacy of a criminal conspiracy fostered by government corruption. What needs to be discussed is the effect this conspiracy has overall. Men and children whose lives are being destroyed have had all means of civil response denied to them. They have presented their proof in court. They have challenged the laws on constitutional grounds. They have addressed their legislators with their complaints. The overall response has been expansion of the criminal conspiracy against them.
The current child support system is not a light-weight conspiracy. The conspirators are not old dead white men but are very much alive and asserting their power through current structures of government. Forcing men who are not fathers to pay child support is only the obvious tip of a now huge and ever-growing iceburg of government corruption. This is not a confusing social issue muddled by family relationships and children's needs. It is a straightforward organized criminal effort to steal as much money from as many people as possible; fathers, men selected at random, and taxpayers.
Common sense tells us that men will continue to respond, and some will respond by meeting illegitimate force with illegitimate force as their only chance at any self-defense, or just because they won't take it without a fight. Stephen Baskerville has recently done a good job of pointing out broader effects in an article in the The Politics of Fatherhood (American Political Science Association).
The signs are all around us now that the break-down of social order is following the break-down of the rule of law. Family issues and the right to one's livelyhood are more intent than the right to drink alcoholic beverages. Should we not expect that these large scale criminal operations related to family issues will make the street wars of the Prohabition era look like a children's birthday party? Will the Family Wars build to the equal of the holy wars of The Reformation?
In any case, I am not apologizing for taking sides. The sooner we stop the practice of putting fathers and victims of paternity fraud in jail and start putting the criminals of the child support system in jail the better.
Copyright 2002 Roger F. Gay
Roger F. Gay is a professional analyst and director of Project for the Improvement of Child Support Litigation Technology. Other articles by Roger F. Gay can be found at Fathering Magazine.