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Saturday, August 24, 2002
Let's subvert the Constitution ...
 
... so the president looks good.

Dahlia Lithwick's essay on the difference between U.S. and British treatment of suspected terrorists is worth a read. Ms Lithwick points out that the British are affording their accused the right to a fair trial, which is producing acquittals, while the U.S. is either conducting show trials or simply not bothering to try suspects at all, just locking them up, presumably forever.

The issue that's raised for me is whether U.S. actions are actually making anyone safer. It seems that we've locked up a bunch a low level nobodies whose connections with and knowledge of ongoing plots are slim to nonexistent. More Bush administration window dressing.

The issue of suspending rights for accused terrorists would be complicated if such suspension were actually necessary to protect lives. To do it simply for propaganda value is utterly without merit.
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Friday, August 23, 2002
Adoptions and annulment
 
Nicholas Kristof's NY Times column raises some interesting questions regarding the issue of annulment of paternal rights.

In Florida, a law has come into force which compels mothers who wish to give their babies up for adoption to publish in a newspaper a notice attempting to locate the father, so that he might be informed of the mother's intentions and give his consent.
Kristof, rightly I think, characterizes this rule as an affront to women's dignity. How, though, can I reconcile this characterization with my opposition to voluntary annulment of paternal rights?

To begin with the issue of adoption in general, I believe that the father has the right to decline to grant permission for adoption, accepting sole custody of the child as a consequence of that decision. I also believe that, in such a circumstance, the non-custodial mother should be responsible for paying child support to the custodial father.

I oppose annulment of paternal rights on the grounds that it diminishes support for children by removing a source of support without substitute provisions for care. Adoptions do not do this.

But aren't adoptions equivalent in some sense to annulments? No, because in an annulment, we vitiate the principle that both biological parents are responsible for their children for no other reason than that the father doesn't want to pay; with adoption, on the other hand, we recognize that, neither parent being willing to undertake the task of support and custody, alternative arrangements have been made that will support the child satisfactorily.

One final question must be asked. Would this regime contribute to an increase in abortions? Probably.

So how can I oppose the notification provision in the Florida law? On the grounds that it is overkill. I agree that a father-to-be has the right to consent to an adoption, but would argue that there are many less publicly onerous ways to get to that notification and consent than a newspaper ad. A good faith effort to contact the father, including perhaps hiring a private investigator, should be sufficient.

The harm we are seeking to avoid, after all, is a father losing parental rights as a consequence of a pregnancy and adoption he was unaware of. In most cases, I think, getting in touch with the father and documenting that fact won't require an ad in the Times.
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Thursday, August 22, 2002
It's the stupid president
 
Glenn Reynolds's latest Fox News column contains much carping about the airline security "charade." Now, I agree with Prof. Reynolds that the new airline security measures are just window dressing designed to fool people into thinking they are safer.

My problem is best encapsulated in this sentence: It's the bureaucrats’ effort to fool the American public into feeling safe via cosmetic measures that create enough inconvenience to fool the gullible into thinking that all that hassle must be making them safer.

The bureaucrats? Where have I heard that bit of blame shifting before? Now I remember. It was part of the president's characterization of the EPA report on global warming.

It's not just airport security that is bogus propaganda designed to create the illusion of effectiveness, while actually accomplishing worse than nothing. It is the vast majority of the programs and policies of the administration of Bush the lesser.

When will administration apologists wake up? The problem isn't the bureaucrats. It's the president, stupid.
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Annul this
 
Even though Meryl Yourish has decided to take a step back from the great paternal annulment debate (or has she?), it seems lots of folks are still rarin' to go. So, without further ado, here are some responses.

Matt Yglesias thinks that increased state support for children might be the answer. That way we wouldn't have to "dragoon" people into paying support for their own children. While I'm not opposed to expanded state support for children, I don't think that increased levels of state support would obviate the principle that biological parents should pay for their own children. Certainly, if those biological parents lack the means, the state should be prepared to step in. But I don't think that unwilling, but financially able, parents should be able to free ride on the state's dime. Sorry Matt.

Tony over at the Rant Factory suggests that I have neglected to consider the question of accidental pregnancy, or worse, deception on the part of the woman. Tony wants to avoid "entrapment through deception" and thinks that some kind of post conception affirmation of responsibility would put the financial onus on the parent choosing to keep the child.

I am opposed to such proposals, as well as those for pre-coital annulment of responsibility, because they are needlessly complicated. Placing responsibility on biological parents provides the clearest method for assigning financial responsibility for children. That a woman can abort a child-to-be and thus avoid the responsibility does not provide sufficient reason to switch to another method. Sure, this creates an "unfairness," but men can avoid being in that position by not having sex, and can minimize their chances by practicing birth control themselves.

Frankly, I'm not too troubled about men who were "entrapped" into being fathers by women who told them they were on the pill, but were lying. If you're worried about it brother, wear a rubber.

In the end, I can't sympathize with those who argue that women's access to abortion creates an imbalance in rights that requires correction. Women have access to abortion because they control their own bodies. End of story. Abortion isn't morally justified because of privacy concerns, nor economic considerations, nor suitability for parenthood. That these factors might militate against the advisability of being a parent are beside the point.

I want children to be supported. I believe biological parents should do the supporting. The perceived unfairness to men created by a woman's right to abortion doesn't come anywhere near providing a reason to allow men to avoid supporting their own children.
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Tuesday, August 20, 2002
Joy
 
After the better part of a week staying at the Hotel Fitzpatrick, our little lost dog has been reunited with her family. Their house had been robbed and the dog taken and later abandoned. The police were no help in this reunion. Rather, the abuelas in the neighborhood put the family in contact with us. We're so happy, and Mister the happiest of all.
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Monday, August 19, 2002
Please sign here ...
 
Noah Snyder (permalinks not working) focuses on one aspect of my response on paternal annulment, namely the possibility of opting out of parental obligation through prior agreement. Noah sees opt out provisions as the first step on the road to a Brave New World, filled with joyless sexual encounters preceded by haggling over the terms of the coital contract. Here's Noah's suggested text:

I (name of sexual partner) being of right mind, free from the influence of drugs or alcohol, and under no coercion agree to engage in sexual relations including intercourse with (name) on (date) between the hours of (hour) and (hour). I certify that to the best of my knowledge I carry no sexually transmitted diseases and I have been tested within the past (number) months for such diseases. I acknowledge that the purpose of this intercourse is solely for pleasure and in the case of birth control failure I release (name) from any obligation to raise or financially care for any child which results from this intercourse.
(signed)


Now, as faithful readers of Homeobox know, I support a bright line rule with regard to parental obligation. If the child is biologically yours, you pay. I'm willing, however, to allow opt outs from this default rule, but only when there is sufficient reason to justify the opt out. As a consequence, I could see an opt out for sperm or egg donors, but can't see one that would be part of Noah's pre-coital contract.

So, in answer to your query Noah: No, it wouldn't satisfy me. I wouldn't even recognize such a contract.
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