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Parents, parasites

 
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:20 pm    Post subject: Parents, parasites Reply with quote

Background: This started with Hephs Superdad post (June 1, 2009) on page 3 of Why straight people make better parents. I referenced Superdad on page 7 of the Polygamy in BC thread, November 26, 2010, although the back and forth between Magoo and I started earlier, with my Nov 25, 2010 response to Magoos Nov 23, 2010 post on page 6.

Senor Magoo wrote:
Quote:
There's going to be huge variance in what reasonable people think is an allowable number of kids a poor person can have without penalty.


I would think that there would be similar variance in what reasonable people think is an acceptable level of force, or what constitutes an immediate danger. If we can accomodate that in criminal cases, I should think we could in family law, too.

You've given no basis on which to make a determination of what's reasonable or not. When determining, for example, reasonable notice for termination of employment in wrongful dismissal suits, it's not done on gut instinct; various factors are taken into account such as length of service, type of occupation, ability to find similar employment. Same with determining whether a drug charge is simple possession or with intent to distribute, or whats reasonable force. And with the example I mentioned before, Section 43, the spanking law. Because the vagueness of "reasonable under the circumstances" was so problematic, guidelines were introduced in 2004, including not allowing physical correction of children under the age of two, no hits to the head, no hitting with objects.

So what's your criteria? It can't be based on not being able to afford kids, because you've already allowed that someone can have one, two, or three kids without having to be able to afford them. If you can't afford kid number 1 or 2, it's not like you can afford number 12 or 21 any more or less. Or that its costing the state more to provide for a kid thats one of a dozen than one of three. So were not making an assessment on the degree of not able to afford.

Is the reasonable determination to be made on community standards, or how many children Canadians in general have? Even though you refuse to do so, we can set some sort of guideline as to how many kids are acceptable before it exceeds a community standard. The poor shouldn't be having more kids than the middle or upper classes and expect the rest of us to pay for them, right? Having scanned some stats on large families, I came across some that defined a large family as three kids or more. But let's be more generous. By the eighties, women having six or more kids had dropped to less than 3%, so how about setting 6 or 7 as a soft limit, leaving it open for a parent to argue why they're the exception?

But now your problem is that unless you penalize all people who exceed the community standard, you're discriminating against the poor when you only penalize those on social assistance. After all, we don't just underwrite the kids of the poor, we underwrite all of them when we educate them, pay for their health care, etc. (And what seems to be a paradox of government support is that the less its needed, the more its available.) Why are you only targeting government support of children when it comes in the form of a welfare payment?

From what you've explained so far, you want to rely on judicial discretion, and encourage an assessment of what's reasonable based on nothing more than the adjudicator's gut feeling. If that's the case, that doesn't sound genuine coming from a guy that's a fan of limiting judicial discretion through mandatory minimums, and setting clearly defined parameters ("Every citizen should have the right to laws, regulations, etc., that are defined as narrowly and specifically as possible. Vague nonsense like "offending the public sensibility" are just wide open to state abuse.") and who has a penchant for posting examples of judges getting it wrong. And who said, "Anyway, I'm going to refrain from calling the law an ass for 72 hours in honour of them getting it right this time."

In the polygamy thread, I asked how you would identify men exceeding a limit:
Quote:
We haven't even started to get into the problems with the application of such a law. Such as, how do you even identify men exceeding a limit? New Brunswick had a right wing proposal a few years back to make naming the father a prerequisite to a mother receiving welfare. Someone offered that mothers should name the premier. So now you have to do DNA testing, on the child and all NB men, to match up the father with the baby for whom social assistance is being requested. And that doesn't even take into account men outside the jurisdiction spreading their seed across NB.

Any law that penalizes having an excessive number of children will almost exclusively be applied against women because of the logistics involved in identifying male offenders. A mother can get social assistance for her child without identifying the father, but not without identifying herself, since thats already a matter of public record (birth certificate). Unless youre proposing a law that only penalizes fathers, and not mothers, for having too many children. If Im not mistaken, that would be struck down as discriminatory on the basis of sex. I wonder if such a law would be constitutional even if the references were gender neutral, parents rather than mothers or fathers, kind of like how pregnancy discrimination is sex discrimination even if you dont say pregnant women. Would it have to be cut and dried like with pregnancy, or is it enough to show that the law, for all intents and purposes, targets women. No matter for this discussion, I guess, since even if it was constitutional, it would disproportionately target women.

Senor Magoo wrote:
But anyway, I guess my thinking is that we should all be free to have as many children as our penises can spurt out, with as many different women as will have us, but from where do we get the idea that everyone else should support those children? If not having everyone else underwrite the predictable results of your irresponsible sexy-times is now a penalty (or better yet, it's "POOR BASHING!!") then we've been indiscriminately applying this "penalty" to the middle and upper classes since forever.

I support people's right to medical care. I don't support people's "right" to 30 different taxpayer-funded cosmetic surgeries just for fun.

I support people's right to own a pet. I don't support anyone's right to own 50 cats, paid for from the public coffers.

So now we're back to the beginning, where I asked if you thought that the poor shouldn't have kids. What else to make of your comparison of having kids to pet ownership and cosmetic surgery, things which nobody, rich or poor, has the right to have funded by the taxpayer? There is no right to own a pet and there is no right to cosmetic surgery. An apt comparison would be to something you thought of as an entitlement, unless you think there is no right to have a child.
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Senor Magoo
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So what's your criteria?


Fair question. I'd start with:

    Did the children (all or some) predate the financial difficulties?
    Are there any specific religious beliefs that mandate having many children?
    Is an attempt being made to have a large family, or simply many children?
    Are the parents involved in each child's life non-financially, or are the children simply an unwanted result?


Quote:
But now your problem is that unless you penalize all people who exceed the community standard, you're discriminating against the poor when you only penalize those on social assistance.


Once we've agreed that the (say) eighth child is, for lack of a better word, excessive, I don't know why that child couldn't be considered similar to any other excess. Currently, we expect social assistance to pay for a home for a recipient (whether it's actually enough for that or no), but we wouldn't expect to provide a couple on social assistance with a four bedroom house. We don't see that as discriminating, even though someone with a six figure income is welcome to four bedrooms for two people.

So as I see it, we'd only be saying "we won't be paying for more than XX" in the same way that we won't be paying for a four bedroom house.

Quote:
Why are you only targeting government support of children when it comes in the form of a welfare payment?


We generally expect parents to raise their children out-of-pocket with regard to food, shelter, etc., but we don't expect anyone to pay for school directly, health care directly, and so on. I guess it wouldn't make sense to me to deny any citizen those, since we all pay for them and receive them collectively.

Quote:
Unless youre proposing a law that only penalizes fathers, and not mothers, for having too many children.


I'm not formally proposing that, but I expect that's how it would work out most often. A woman would need 21 years to have 21 children. The guy in the original story was fathering a couple of them a year. Also, I don't think that there are too many cases of women having a baby, leaving it to someone else to raise, and running off to make another. In the original story, I don't believe that any of the women involved exceeded three or so kids, but dad had 21.

But you're right; may as well say "[arents" just in case.

Quote:
There is no right to own a pet and there is no right to cosmetic surgery.


Currently the right to have your children supported by the taxpayer exists only in law, which I suppose we're discussing changing. And it's not like there aren't any limits as the law currently exists.

Now just to be clear: this is just talk. I really doubt this will come to pass, even with Stevie in office, and I'm certainly not dedicating my weekends to knocking on doors to try to make it come to pass.

But in the original story, the community in which this guy was enjoying his harem was apparently a bit unimpressed at having to bankroll what was really nothing more than irresponsible, unprotected promiscuity on his part. And while I approve of sex, and think people should have plenty of it if they wish, but not without some degree of responsibility. So I could see where they were coming from. Sure, sex with a condom is only 98% as fun as sex without one, but is that a good enough reason for this guy to just jump from bed to bed and leave the bill on the nightstand for everyone else to pay? There's got to be some way around that, and it seems to me that the threat of adult responsibility would work wonders with characters like him. ("What? I have to work my ass off to pay?? I can't just grin and run off??")
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Timebandit
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reproductive rights are tricky. It's not as if you could forcibly prevent someone from having more children (forced sterilization, anyone?), and if he doesn't have the money to support them, well, the money's not there. Who suffers if we just say no, we're not going to support more than x kids on the public dime? Not daddy.

What we'll impose is a penalty that women and their children will bear.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Senor Magoo wrote:
Quote:
So what's your criteria?


Fair question. I'd start with:

You're missing my point about the criteria, which came right after the part you quoted. Having criteria, no matter the specifics, means there is no entitlement to having a child, not even one. Some judge can decide that one child is too many for someone who can't even support themselves. In other words, you are saying the poor shouldn't have kids.

Quote:
We generally expect parents to raise their children out-of-pocket with regard to food, shelter, etc. . . .

It's worse than I thought. Not only do you think there's no entitlement to have children, now you're saying there's no entitlement to food and shelter.
You're discriminating against the poor when you only penalize those with "excess children" who are on social assistance, and not those with "excess children"who receive other kinds of government support.

Quote:
Currently the right to have your children supported by the taxpayer exists only in law, which I suppose we're discussing changing.

Nothing of the sort. I am discussing your response to my question, " The poor shouldn't have kids?" June 1, 2009, Why straight people make better parents.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Having criteria, no matter the specifics, means there is no entitlement to having a child, not even one.


Having a child? Or having that child supported by the state?

Because there are already restrictions on having a child supported by the state. Nobody has a de facto guaranteed right to it.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Senor Magoo wrote:
Quote:
Having criteria, no matter the specifics, means there is no entitlement to having a child, not even one.


Having a child? Or having that child supported by the state?

Having a child.* And not only are you saying it's not an entitlement, but that it's criminal for someone to have a child when they can't afford to support one, because you are creating a law that can and will prosecute people for doing just that.

*To avoid getting into a side issue about fertility treatments, let me be more precise about "having a child". There's no entitlement to getting pregnant, but there is one to bringing a pregnancy to term.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
because you are creating a law that can and will prosecute people for doing just that.


Nothing revolutionary there. Courts currently reserve the right to find deadbeat parents in contempt of court.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Senor Magoo wrote:
Quote:
because you are creating a law that can and will prosecute people for doing just that.


Nothing revolutionary there. Courts currently reserve the right to find deadbeat parents in contempt of court.

That doesn't make having a child that you can't support per se criminal. It makes it illegal to have a child then be unable to support that child after a divorce.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hrm. I'm certainly kind of leery of applying criminal law to the issue. And yet, frankly, I am distinctly disgruntled by particularly large families. There are too many people in the world as it is, and very definitely too many people leading wasteful first-world lifestyles; I would certainly not object to a certain normative stigma surrounding the notion of deliberately seeking to have particularly large families at this time in history.

Back when Canada was dominated by farming and trying to fill up the empty land . . . well, First Nations might not have been too enthusiastic about us all breeding like rabbits even then, but there was a certain rationale. Now? The main groups having particularly large families seem to be bible-thumping Christians seeking to create a demographic victory for their ideology, and not caring about the consequences because of their bizarre interpretations of their holy book.

The question is how, or whether, such a general disapproval should translate into government action. I can't really see a program more intrusive than the kinds of recommendations we get about diet and exercise. But I can understand the temptation.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Senor Magoo wrote:
Quote:
because you are creating a law that can and will prosecute people for doing just that.


Nothing revolutionary there. Courts currently reserve the right to find deadbeat parents in contempt of court.

"The law that can and will prosecute people for doing just that" was a law penalizing people for having children *when they can't afford to support them*. Child support payments are based what a court determines they can afford to pay. So deadbeat parents are not on point.

This brings another problem into the mix, though. Superdad was only in trouble for not making payments he could afford. He was not in trouble for leaving the state, or the child's mother, to pick up the tab. I think one mother was supposed to get about a hundred a month for two kids, and Superdad was making minimum wage, about 7 bucks an hour, so I think we can conclude that many of the mothers hadn't come forward to make a child support claim. So when you were talking about forced labour to pay off his arrears, you were talking about deadbeat dads, who are not all poor. Or maybe both deadbeat dads and poor dads. I don't know anymore.

If Superdad was on welfare rather than working, it's doubtful any of the mothers would have bothered trying to get child support, since there's nothing for the courts to award, so his case would probably have never come to light. It's likely there's more Superdads out there, but you've got no way of identifying them. Your penalties would not capture those that you would find most deserving of punishment. The guys who are at least supporting themselves get punished, while the guys who rely on the state to support them get to have as many kids as they want without fear of penalty.

Which I guess is not another problem, but the same one I've mentioned a couple of times, that of identifying the offenders, and having some semblance of equitable application of your laws.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree, Rufus, to a large degree.

It bugs me when people have kids they can't look after. It's irresponsible and selfish. But I'm not sure there's a way to penalize that irresponsibility without crossing an ethical line vis reproductive rights or that doesn't pass along the penalty to the kids, which doesn't seem fair to me.

On a personal note, I'd probably have had more than the two kids I have now if I'd started younger and had more money. But we chose to limit our family to two so that we could bring them up and educate them in the way we felt was best. I'm sorry to say that the maternal urge would have overridden ecological concerns.
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