To judge from initial measures, the healthy marriages project appears to be largely a
vehicle for expanding the already formidable child-support enforcement apparatus.
The dishonesty of the government's claimed child-support crisis has now been exposed in
so many works there is no need to belabor it here. (See "The Myth of Deadbeat
Dads," June 2002.) Significantly, our awareness of the alleged problem has come
entirely from government officials. No public outcry ever preceded the creation of
government machinery; the public never demanded that government take action; nor has any
discussion of this alleged problem ever been held in the media. In fact, no public
perception of such a problem even existed until public officials began saying it did. No
government or academic study ever documented the existence of a child-support problem.
The initiative has been taken throughout by government officials and quasi-governmental
interest groups, whose power has greatly expanded as a result.
Prior to the creation of the federal Office of
Child Support Enforcement and throughout
its 28-year history, no study has ever been conducted on the reason for its existence.
Several unchallenged studies have established that no problem in fact does exist.
In the realm of child support, too, machinery created for the poor expanded to the
middle class. The criminal enforcement machinery was initially promoted as a means to
recoup welfare costs and help single mothers off welfare. Though it never had this effect,
the program expanded exponentially following its creation in 1975. HHS figures show that
welfare cases now account for less than one-fifth of all child-support cases, and the
proportion is shrinking. The remaining four-fifths are non-welfare cases consisting
largely of previously married fathers who are usually divorced involuntarily and who
generally can be counted on to pay.
Designed to reduce government spending, the federal program has incurred a continuously
increasing deficit. Promoted to help poor children whose unemployed fathers had allegedly
abandoned them, the new machinery became a means to loot working fathers who had done no
such thing and whose children were taken from them through no fault or agreement of their
own. Child support enforcement is now a multi-billion dollar industry, with interlocking
agencies on the federal, state, and local level, plus private contractors. Support levels
are set by the same officials and contractors who collect
child support. By forcibly
The realization that the engine
generating fatherless children is not the fathers, but the state, takes on implications
few have dared to confront.
fathers from their children and imposing impossible
burdens, these officials can create the very delinquents on which their business depends.
The Office of Child Support Enforcement oversees a force of plainclothes agents who can
issue arrest warrants and carry guns. They also have powers to gather financial and other
information on private citizens, including surveillance of citizens who have no
involvement in child support. Child-support defendants can be jailed without a formal
charge or jury trial or attorney, and may be presumed guilty until proven innocent.
Horror stories are legion. Damn White of Prince George, British Columbia, was denied
all contact with his three children, evicted from his home, and ordered to pay more than
twice his income as child and spousal support, plus court costs for a divorce to which he
never agreed. White hanged himself. There is nothing unusual about this judgment, says
former British Columbia Supreme Court Judge Lloyd McKenzie, who pointed out that the judge
applied standard guidelines.
There is also nothing unusual about the result. Scholars and journalists treat
court-related suicide as a problem not of justice but, again, of therapy. Pierre Baume of
Monash University found that in Australia more than 1,000 men aged 25 to 44 take their own
lives yearly. He found that most involve child access problems. Yet in language typical of
his trade, Baume attributes this finding to relationship break-ups. Fathers therefore
need, not due process of law, but, once again, counseling and education on how to express
When Augustine Kposowa of the University of California attributed a similar suicide
rate in the United States directly to family-court action, three news outlets ignored this
conclusion, reporting instead that fathers lack support networks.