To most of us today, child support is a matter of course. If you aren’t married to the mother of your children, then you pay child support. This wasn’t always the case though. Normal, hard working men took care of their children regardless of the status they held with the mother of their children. As a matter of fact, the legal definition of marriage is a fairly recent thing. Marriage law was governed under common law. Now that is a rarity as well. So why is it automatic that men pay women child support? How did this become the norm?
If you go back in time to the 60s and the 70s in the US, you will find that there was a lot of political activism surrounding the sexual revolution. You started to hear about dead beat dads. A thing that largely wasn’t a problem until promiscuity was the norm for young women. Dead beat dads are a consequence of loose women. Maybe not wholly, but the epidemic that led to the outrage is a result of this. There are a number of social and scientific factors that led to this, and birth control availability is one of them. People like to pretend that birth control always works, but it doesn’t. It certainly becomes an issue when there are mind altering drugs involved, and this era had a lot of that as well. As these girls became women with daunting task of raising kids alone without a father, the term deadbeat dad emerges.
These numbers grew over the next couple of decades. Court ordered child support starts to become more common as these mothers seek assistance in raising these kids. Most of the men paying child support never wanted the child. All they wanted was the sexual gratification. Whether knowingly or not, they had abandoned their children. Under common law in most states, this allowed the mother or community to seek financial support for the children. Mostly when the mother was living off some form of government assistance. Before this time, very few people had heard of child support, let alone known anyone that paid it. Now it was common enough that everyone knew at least a recipient or payer of child support. The majority of people weren’t concerned that they would ever have to pay child support themselves.
A fair chunk of these men not being fatherly minded resisted paying the support, and when they lived outside the jurisdictions of the courts ordering support, it was difficult to find ways to enforce collection. The Federal government was increasingly becoming the primary source of funding for the assistance programs, and so felt that had a stake in child support collections. They increased efforts to collect child support, and laws were passed to give the states more ways to collect child support from reluctant fathers. As more laws were passed by the Federal government, they saw that not all states and jurisdictions cared to collect child support. The decided it was not enough to give the states the tools, but they needed to give them incentives. They started to reward the states with some form of matching funds for every dollar of child support they collected. There were also incentives for having your collection rates at high percentages.
Whether it was an expected and desired side effect or unexpected, I don’t know, but the end result was that states saw that collecting child support could mean new revenue. If there were more support ordered in the courts, then they would collect more support and have more matching funds. They also saw that having more orders would also increase their collection percentages, because the vast majority of men wouldn’t dodge their responsibilities. As time went on the Federal government required that child support dispensaries be created and the income withholding order became the norm and even required in all Title IV cases. Financially the states started adding fees to the service. All in all the states make money through the dissolution of marriages and unwed parenting.
The states are now stakeholders in the breakup of families. Even though history clearly shows that the breakdown of the family unit is a leading indicator of the downfall of a society, the states are invested in the process. Financially it pays for them to do so. This is an artificial economic increase for them, because no new money is made. Now for those like me, who don’t really trust government to begin with there are other factors that also fed this process. One is statistically men are savers and women are spenders. Transferring money from men to women will generally mean that more money moves through the marketplace, and there are more taxes to collect. Women vote more than men, and there are more women than men potential voters. Women are more likely to vote for candidates that will make sure they are taken care of. It is certainly easier to hand out someone else’s money, than it is to do anything truly constructive for this country. The idea has been sold that because the children have a right to what each parent’s income can provide, then they must have a right to the income itself. Its a mixed up thought process, because all of us that have had kids in traditional marriage know, is kids have a right to the luxuries you are willing to provide. Only when you are a child support payer is that idea flipped. It doesn’t extend to the child support recipient. There is no requirement for them to spend any of the money on the kids, so long as the kids are generally taken care of.
Child support creates a second class of citizen. It also tends to keep money out of savings. Men are paying enough that they can’t save for themselves. The money they would save is being spent now on the kids, either in their own household or in the other parents. Men with one or two kids generally spend what they would have anyway on top of child support. Men with more kids are left with little to maintain themselves. If they want to have their kids any amount of time, then the costs of housing alone will make it difficult for them to save. This to states that want increased tax revenues is a good situation. The money continues to move, so they get more in terms of sales and income taxes. Its a short term view of economics. The states would be better off when each generation can save. They pass wealth on to the next generation, and each generation becomes richer. Government is freed from taking care of more and more of its population. In a freedom loving country like the US, this is a good thing. The poor are the hardest hit in these schemes. The problem is government always tends towards controlling the population. These systems keep men under control. They don’t have the finances to be distracted by what is going on in government, and are subject to such high penalties for non-payment that they don’t risk doing otherwise.