Non-custodial fathers like myself will applaud Stephen Baskerville’s analysis of the “Divorce Gamemanship” in his piece “Divorced from Reality” (Touchstone). Baskerville tells us that the divorce industry makes a nauseating use of unproven allegations of child abuse and domestic violence to deny parents – mostly fathers- the right of having a role in their children’s life. When divorce has kicked them out of the family, fathers are financially strangled with unreasonable child support payments, which, according to economist Robert Willis quoted by Baskerville, “vastly exceed the cost of raising children.” Divorce courts lead to jails – without a trial or a jury- and the sad thing is that the public and the media could care less.
Baskerville’s point is that behind the breakdown of families, there is the hideous hand of the government, in the form of “massive federal funds devoted to domestic violence, child abuse, and child-support enforcement” that “are little more than … ‘feminist pork,’ taxpayer subsidies on family dissolution that also trample due process protections.” I am not following him there. To me, the feminist rhetoric is instrumental to the project of the Reaganite, neoliberal wave (on which Clinton surfed) of a “weak” government, which did not mean that the government was supposed to be less coercive or intrusive, but less involved in the economic and social spheres: less taxes and government programs reduced to what is now food service on US Airways – zero. First, you attack a mythical “welfare queen,” a single black women who is supposed to strive on taxpayer money thanks to children out of wedlock, and you dismantle welfare entitlement programs. When times prove – surprise, surprise- that rationing welfare does not help reduce poverty, you use feminist rhetoric and point at fathers for solution. I do not have the data at hand, but I bet that the “massive funds devoted to domestic violence etc..” that Baskerville is talking about are peanuts compared to the welfare programs targeted at families slashed during the glorious eighties and nineties.” This is what is nice with current feminist family policies implemented by family courts: the suckers – fathers- pay.
When are we going to get out of the eighties?