>You are implying that court awards are excessive in
>light of some fathers' incomes.
court awards are never excessive on poor men. there's a standard forpetesake and they take into account the need for a non-custodial parent to take care of themselves. these "reports" are shite: they're being pumped out by the father's rights groups in this country on the basis of shoddy data in an effort to work up a frenzy against tougher CS laws which aren't especially tough on most poor men--unless they already in trouble with the law for some reason. and the father's rights initiative that are going after the CS laws are funded primarily be men who *can* afford to pay.
the uniform child support and custody act passed in 1992 which was supposed to help make the states more uniform in the way they award support and organize custody. the standard is 17% of gross after FICA for 1 child, 20% for two, blah blah. this roughtly is about 1/6 of gross. it's pretty standard for the divorce agreement to go w/ that. this is not excessive. this is easily afforded by a noncustodial parent on minimum wage, but i suspect most noncustodial parents are making more than minimum wage.
the stats used are notoriously unreliable (see kathryn edin's work on this). most poor people hide their incomes. this includes fathers who maintain that they are too poor but who make their living doing other thing--hustling, working off the books. sorry to break the news folks, but i've lived in this world. people "cheat" the welfare system all the time and they should. but noncustodial parents shouldn't cheat their kids--out of time, attention or money. and if they can't afford that then they can do what my sister's ex did: he did the daycare and did the shopping.
there is no reason why there needs to be an opposition between demanding that parents take responsibility for the children they produce by sharing their incomes with them and also pursuing more generous welfare and un/underemployment benefits. but we absolutely have to make sure that noncustodial learn how to share their incomes even if they don't live with or see their kids as often as they might like. they need to learn to share their incomes with others without feeling that have to have some kind of control over how that money is spent and/or assuming that it can only be spent for the wrong reasons. if noncustodial parents aren't paying, it is often because they feel they don't have control over the money or don't see their children. now, tell me, if that's the case, then why would anyone thing your average joe taxpayer's going to want to spend money on more generous welfare bennies administered through the monolith of the state?
and for all the rhetoric of child support enforcement i can assure that it doesn't happen in florida.
*it takes three months to get an appointment. during they time, you get sent letters for no reason telling you that you must contact them for non-compliance. the CSE had no reasonable explanations for this letter.
*if you go to welfare which is what someone told me to do given my weird circumstances, you are not eligible for housing or food assistance if: --you have cash/car assets over 4k --you are not eligible simply because you're unemployed and ineligible for unemployment benefits --you are not eligible for free food from the charities/govt surplus b/c they'll only take if you're eligible for foodstamps first. --they do not take account how much you might owe in credit card debt, student loans, etc --if you have a mortgage, forget it (and most people would) --ostensibly welfare is supposed to go after the deadbeats but they don't.
given the larger political climate--that of a rising father's rights movement which, theoretically, i support in so far as i think fathers need to be more than wallets -- we are up against a growing tendency to view child support as some sort of rip off. it is also an attempt to wrest away and shatter any and all advances we have made. the fact is, we can not expect a state policy or economy that respects and rewards the work of children/family/home if we do not encourage individual men to respect that work and those responsibilities. that's all there is to it. imagining that we can simplly side step this by only ever pushing for change at the macro/state level is a grave mistake. what must also happen is that noncustodial parents recognize their obligations to the children they create. for if they cannot respect those obligations and the work involved therein, they cannot ever develop an understanding of the division of labor of a complex interdependent economy. and that, to me, is a prerequisite for building a socialist society. if you don't recognize obligations to those who you know, how can we create a socialist state built on a sense of obligations to distant others?
people who view paying child support as some kind of burden are simply symptomatic fo a wider cultural propensity to reject paying for anything that doesn't immediately affect you or is in your interest --as we see in the rejection of taxes for public schooling or of any govt spending really.
noncustodial parents who see paying child support as a burden do so because they somehow think they're paying the custodial parent and supporting his or her lifestyle and have no control over how that money is spent. we need to address that.
Occidit miseros crambe repetita magistros "that cabbage hashed up again and again proves the death of the wretched teachers." --Juvenal, 1st century AD