home > archive > 2002 > this article
The conniving Gray Davis
By Roger F. Gay
It's the most obvious fault in the huge pork-barrel child support enforcement system; men who are not fathers of the children they have been ordered to support. The California legislature passed a bill that would have allowed men to dispute paternity with a DNA test, but Governor Gray Davis vetoed it.
The news was reported first at Men's News Daily on September 29, but I cannot get over the feeling that not enough has been said about it. What forces can possibly be sufficient to maintain such an overwhelming level of corruption after it has been so obviously exposed?
It's only money.
The point of forcing these men to pay through the government system is to increase the amount of money flowing through the government system. States are paid a bonus based on the amount of child support paid through their system. The more money that flows through, the more money states receive in federal funding. Davis claims that $40 million is at stake. At the federal bonus payment level of 6 percent, he is apparently claiming that hundreds of thousands of men have been subjected to paternity fraud in California who are now being forced to pay $667 million per year to support children that are not theirs. If it must be about money lost, then the men win. They are losing more.
I cannot confirm those figures but there does seem to be some reason to believe that the problem is quite large. Dianna Thompson, Executive Director of the American Coalition For Fathers and Children has reported that almost 80 per cent of the paternity judgments in Los Angeles County in 2000 were assigned by default. Statewide that would amount to a lot of default judgments. And the practice is not new. The designated father rule has been in effect for years.
I recognize that paternity fraud is a serious issue and has the potential of damaging an individuals livelihood, Davis wrote in a veto message. Has the potential of damaging an individual's livelihood? You can send email to me, dear readers, if you think I'm wrong; but isn't that statement more than conniving and less than clever?
We're talking about the state forcing men to pay enormous sums to support children that are not theirs. We are not talking about taxes paid by everyone according to their means to provide public support. Individual men are wrongly named fathers and forced to support individual children that are not theirs, against their will and in the face of their protests. That does cause damage to them. It isn't vague or probabilistic. It's an improper use of government force to do something that is wrong and that does cause enormous harm to individuals.
It causes enormous damage to the United States and its citizens overall. If government can get away with such flagrant abuses of power, then no citizen is safe. Our lives and our fortunes, whatever they may be, are subject to the whims of those who have decided to become despots.
According to Davis, the corrective legislation was "flawed in its attempt to address the issue. Let's examine the particulars as expressed by some of the special interests Davis accommodated
The National Organization for Women and the Oakland-based National Center for Youth Law complained that men who had already been ordered to pay child support through a default judgment would have been able to challenge paternity with a DNA test. In other words, it would cheat women out of the right to steal money from men they had defrauded.
Lupe Alonzo-Diaz, senior policy advocate for the San Diego-based "Childrens Advocacy Institute" complained that the bill did not provide money for the childs food, school supplies and other needs while proof of paternity was pending. That is pretty far off target. The problem starts when a woman has a child out-of-wedlock and has difficulty establishing who the father is. If she cannot pay for food and school supplies, she goes to the welfare office. Forcing a particular guy to pay without knowing whether he is the father, having no proof that he is the father, is way beyond the scope of reasonable behavior. Taxpayers your desire not to support children that are not yours is not as great as the man the state is forcing to carry the burden alone.
She adds, a man could claim he is not a biological parent, and then a test could conclude he is the father. Yes it could. Then you get the money from him.
And the kicker: "parenthood is more than just DNA," she said. Yes it is. And parenthood has nothing to do with the state forcing men at random to pay money to women who have children outside of stable relationships who then have difficulty establishing who the father is. Being forced to pay does not establish parenthood.
Somebody had to say that it's for the children. We agree there are paternity fraud issues and that the system is not working 100 percent, Lupe Alonzo-Diaz said, but were glad that the governor put children first.
No he didn't. He put $40 million in federal funding first, before fundamental human rights that once defined the United States of America.
But I have an even greater and more important corruption to complain about. In the fifteen years that the designated father rule has been in effect, the courts have not put a stop to it. The judicial branch is most directly responsible for upholding the constitution and assuring that our fundamental individual rights are upheld. If you really want to feel a shiver run up your spine, consider the fact that they have refused to fulfill their obligation.
F. Gay is a professional analyst and director of Project
for the Improvement of Child Support Litigation Technology. Other
articles by Roger F. Gay can be found in the Men's News Daily archive.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
© 1996-2013, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.