>So what to do?
firstly, not buy every piece of tripe that comes off the newswire. (just as an aside: i just got involved in a world i know nothing about --information security and technology--which actually makes me a good tech writer (articles, background, fact checking, newsletters, etc) because i can translate complicated stuff to the general audience that i'm writing for. that's actually how my boss "sells me and my services" to our clients:
"jerry, meet kelley, she doesn't know anything, but she writes real good" heh. it's fascinating to me how these media "stories" are spread as i do the research and check the facts. and it all happens because reporters are hungry for predigested info provided by "experts". hold yourself a press conference, add some charts and "data" and all of a sudden. interested readers should check the canadian news btw for the results of this process in terms of the recent suicide of a guy who couldn't keep up with his child support and alimony payments. it's scary how they're exploiting these so called "think tanks"
> What are our priorities, and how are those priorities
my priority right now would be to make sure that CSE works. that would be, well, what i'm doing: writing an article about my experience in the nightmare of TANF so that ordinary lefty type gets a klew.
(like you, carrol, i don't bother with the idiots who don't and won't ever care.)
let's say i was eligible for welfare. i should also think the ex should pay. he makes 32k. family income is 70k (which ironically includes 7k from the father of his step daughter PLUS child care expenses pro rata.). his mortgage is on a house worth 85k. so he's not paying out the nose for housing. he's not bad off, iow. but he has a father's rights atty who'll encourage him to do anything.
he should be paying, even if i were eligible for welfare, don't you think? yeah, socialism would be nice. but we're not there yet.
furthermore, while i presented a bleak scenario, let me also say that the advances we have made also saved us. when the dork of an ex tried to reduce cs pymts even though he's making more than he used to make, the courts--while they initially accepted his application for a reduction--quickly changed their tune once i filed my own letter noting the circumstances: that he'd paid up what he owed and yet canx payment on the checks without telling me in an attempt to punish me be/c he thinks it's taking to long for me to finish the diss (and by all measures i'm far ahead of most people! idiot). hell, when my bank asked why he did it, he said, "oh i have the money, i just want my canx checks before i'll give it to her. now, you'll think he's an asshole. but the fact is, he paid his child support to his other children when i was married to him. the only reason why he's being an ass now is the father's rights movement. he's got a lawyer that encourages him to do whatever he can to get out of paying or pay less.
so discourage and fight that tripe at every damn turn.
i spoke to CS people where he filed on the phone and they were very kind and very understanding and were outraged that my ex had tried to do what he did. they had his expense papers that you have to fill out and his income taxes right in front of them. so they knew that he was an idiot.
right now, he's refusing to pay day care money according to our divorce agreement. while it's a pain in the ass and i've got to wait. i do have a good chance of making him pay what he owes. it's just that it is an incredible pain to do. lots of paperwork, lots of waiting around in offices.
we should not encourage the spreading of these rumors about the hardships of fathers unless we have real solid evidence.
so, what should we do? make all divorces require child support agreements in which non custodial parents have their wages immediately garnished. very simple.
you'll get rid of a lot of problems that way and you'll eliminate the enforcement bureaucracy. you can encourage employers to hire men by reimursing them for bureaucratic or adminstrative overhead. right now, a non paying father ends up paying by sending his check to a social service agency who, in ny, charges him 4 bucks per week or pyment for such overhead. the agency then mails check to custodial parent. get rid of that middle man and give the 4$ or even half that a week per child custody paying dad to the corp. believe me, corps love that stuff. it's like gravy or free money to them.
>Perhaps a beginning would be to drop the rhetoric of individual
>responsibility and attempt to generate a rhetoric of collective
>-- but perhaps that would not feminist enough for Kelley. :-) And
>perhaps it would not be moral enough for Barbara Ehrenreich. It would
i disagree. we're not at that point yet. people who don't think they're responsible for their own children be/c they don't have control over how "their" money gets spent will not be capable of understanding collective responsibility. we're just not there yet. talking about it as if we aren't won't get us there. people learn collective responsibility by starting out small.
just as you once argued to me carrol that people will be persuaded by the solidarity you and others exhibit, you already understand this. you already understand that rational argument doesn't necessarily persuade. what persuades are role models of decent behavior and practices of commitment to something larger than yourself. if that is encouraged in terms of one's own family we have a better chance of creating the kind of people who understand responsibility for the collective good and for others whom they do not know.
finallly, i don't think any of this is funny. if it weren't for a lucky break and the fact that i have a whole bunch going for me that a lot of people just don't have, i could have found myself with utterly no food in the cupboard, no money for gas and no way to get any but by stealing. i sat there at one point contemplating prostitution because i did not know how i was going to feed my kid otherwise. so, if you can find the time to type away at lbo, i'm sure you can find the time to organize people into some sort of coalition to provide help to people who need it.
-- Number six reason why Beer is better than Jesus..... When you have a Beer, you don't knock on people's doors trying to give it away.