No sooner do I deal with the ignorance of Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell on the subject of child support than our old friend and punching bag John Bolch chimes in on the same subject (Marilyn Stowe Blog, 8/28/18). Unsurprisingly, the results are much the same. In his invariable zeal to support the status quo and oppose fathers legitimate interests, Bolch gets much wrong about his chosen topic. That said though, I must admit that his piece is better than Mitchell’s. He actually gets a fact or two correct and raises a coherent argument. I’ve never before said that Bolch’s work is superior to anyone’s, but in this case the fact is the fact. Yes, it’s setting the bar at ground level, but there it is.
It seems Bolch has heard various non-custodial fathers complaining that they have to pay to support their kids.
The first issue for the non-resident parent is that they see the money they are paying to support their child actually going to the parent with care.
Well done, John. Non-custodial parents do often raise that issue and with good reason. I’ve read many a complaint that runs something like this: “I pay my child support every time, but when I finally get to see my kid, he’s dressed in rags and hasn’t eaten all day. Meanwhile Mom seems to have plenty of money for gin/heroin/cocaine/methamphetamine/whatever.”
That’s spurred me to recommend an arrangement under which Mom gets a debit card for an account Dad funds with his child support payment. The card could only be used for certain child-related things plus other items like rent. That way Mom would receive her money and Dad would know it wasn’t being used for non-legitimate expenditures.
Needless to say, Bolch has nothing to say about such a simple and obvious solution to non-custodial fathers’ completely understandable complaints.
In their eyes, the maintenance is akin to spousal maintenance, rather than child maintenance. Why should they pay spousal maintenance?
Right again! (That’s two in a row. Bolch is on a roll!)
But then he blows it.
First, the argument that the money is being used by the parent with care for their own benefit, rather than for the benefit of the child. Well, so what?
Uh, John the “so what?” of it is that child support is supposed to be child support. If it’s used for the child, fine, but if it’s used to support Mom’s heroin habit, that’s not so fine. Surely you agree, right?
Now Bolch’s actual point, poorly made as it is, is that money is fungible and so it’s impossible to separate what the child support is being used for and what it’s not. Fair enough, but to that end, see my recommendation described above. A debit card that can only be used for child-related items all of a sudden renders money non-fungible. Child support funds would go into the child support account and could only be used for, you know, child support.
Now, what about the fathers’ point that in fact what their money does is support Mom, not the child, that it’s spousal maintenance? Bolch ignores that altogether, but I don’t.
As I said in my last piece on the Sun-Times fiasco, we’ve known for decades that the child support system aims at ensuring that the child undergoes no decline in living standards when Mommy and Daddy split up. Well, if little Andy or Jenny’s lifestyle remains the same due to Daddy’s support, then Mommy’s lifestyle does too. It can’t be any other way. So in fact, child maintenance is spousal maintenance. But again, Bolch’s sole aim is to defend the status quo, so he’s not about to think critically about the issue or come up with sensible conclusions.
Does he know that, back in the late 80s, our child support system took as gospel the work of Lenore Weitzman who claimed that mothers underwent a 76% decline in living standards when they divorced? Does he know that that was wrong and known to be wrong at the time? Does he know that, 10 years after the fact, Weitzman herself admitted as much? And yet child support remains aimed at making up that supposed deficit.
What about the fact that, in the early 80s radical feminists in the U.S. and Europe (at least) changed the direction of their movement from urging fathers to spend more time at home so their wives could work more to maintaining the status quo so as to increase the transfer of funds from men to women? Former German feminist Hildegard Sunderhof said exactly that at NPO’s shared parenting conference in Boston last year and of course Weitzman’s fraudulent work was part of that movement.
Does Bolch know that gender feminists now oppose even the most modest reform of spousal maintenance and child support laws for that very reason?
Needless to say, Bolch knows none of the above. And it’s that very ignorance that allows him to assert the patent nonsense he does.
I’ll have more to say about this next time.