Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?…' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

Family Courts are Part of Government = Business Systems. Part I

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The government as a business is in the business of raising revenues in exchange for providing services.  In a just world, it would be operating without a huge surplus, engaging regularly in war, international banking, the support and overthrow of other governments, etc. but in the best interests of its citizens.  However, like any corporation, it likes to accumulate assets while doing this — the mo fre the merrier.

UNlike public-trade companies, however, there is no “Securities and Exchange Commission” regulating the government’s own selling and buying of debt, or others who sell and buy ITS debt.  There ought to be.

The only trouble with that model is when it gets out of hand, which is what most governments and institutions (and religions) throughout the history of the world, by nature, DO.  They get “out of hand.”    When challenged on this, they tend to engage in bloody wars, and redistribute land and profits afterwards.  Religions — and/or social science theories about life, poverty, families, and “welfare” (these days) or almost anything else– are handy for justifying the wars.

SECTION I.

TANF/WELFARE ASSETS used to WAGE WAR ON POVERTY/FATHERLESSNESS.  In order to divert these funds, and give grants to some, not to others; someone first had to obtain these funds.  

But whoever still questions HOW that happened, with a view to getting some of it back in the form of valid money (not “dollars”) instead of continually fighting about provision of what kinds of services from the same source?  In other words, how to change the conversation?  Did “the Occupy” movement entail exposing this?

Note:  the US government only has this weapon to use because it was able to accumulate the assets through, among other means, setting up the Federal Reserve Board & income tax (1913) BEFORE World War I, passing the War Powers Act, and only deactivating part of it (1921) declaring a state of emergency (1933),  having appropriated the people’s excess gold (under “Trading with the Enemy Act”) and, having collected through threat an abundance of gold, getting it OUT of others’ hands, suddenly raised the price of gold; then having passed the Social Security Act (1935) taxing not just individuals, but also employers to set up such a trust fund, and so on, and so forth. (some of which is in the last post here).

In other words, the dynamic of the government as our “hero” against foreign enemies and large corporations (therefore hand over the loot) was set up long ago.  Of course there are long-term consequences to centralized control of the economy in private hands!   Now, lo and behold, post- 2001, we (any American, potentially) is the potential enemy, as well as the domesticated cattle being farmed.  Thanks to the internet, it’s a little easier for some of us to learn more about this, however thanks to the same internet it’s also easier for the pace of this expansion (of government/corporate alliances) to accelerate.

Currently some of us are reeling from the war on poverty and fatherlessness in the family courts, which often results in a shifting of the poverty to the other parentage (family line) and motherlessness, which taxpayers are helping with — because this money comes from welfare diversions, some of which are to specifically help fathers get children away from mothers, including mothers that separated from fathers because of a lethality situation.  Period.   To pretend otherwise is to have immunized oneself against proof.

By now even fathers know this; fewer mothers do because mothers, through the DV and “protect the children” advocacy groups (some of who collaborate with fatherhood groups on the same grants’ streams) have intentionally silenced discussion on that topic leaving it to individual bloggers (many of us parents) to publicize.  We do not generally speaking, as the federal government does, have $7 million surplus sitting around to further a media campaign and divert MORE money into government programs, where it (to be honest) is often simply lost.  I wonder where that “lost” money goes to.  Even though through some due diligence, we can find out where (at which organizations, and who their owners are) some of the trails goes cold, and we do see the patterns, it would take some serious software — and internal controls, good data, etc. — to get the scope of it:

Just a sample reminder from Anne Stevenson’s Huffington Post blog, link to the right:

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 and the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) program it created transformed welfare policy by drastically reducing and shifting federal assistance away from the homes of mothers and children and into the homes of violent offenders. In an article entitled “How Federal Welfare Funding Drives Judicial Discretion in Child-Custody Determinations and Domestic Relations Matters” fathers and rights activists Lary Holland and Jason Bottomsly explain that this policy has backfired because the incentives are structured so that the state will only benefit if children are removed from loving homes:

For “benefit” read “profit.”  This profit is in part from interest accrued while child support distribution is suspended pending resolution of the custody matter, and other various ways.  Also, there’s a “bounty” for the states on creating child support orders, payable from the US government.
“In essence, the federal guidelines wanted the states to function as collection agencies,** recovering financial support from parents who had willfully abandoned their parental responsibilities to their children. The result, however, was different from the intent and has caused the state welfare programs to adjust their environment to have a greater need, . . .
Yes, the dynamic of taking thing from everyone, centralizing it in a very profitable investment pool, and then doling out some of that profit does remind one of the parade of an emperor and trail of court officials strolling through town scattering largesse, for PR, and people (or in this case, “states”) scrambling for a portion of it.  How philanthropic.  Keep them taxes coming in…
Always, the hordes of the fertile, jobless poor — and single mothers — are fingered as the real source of debt and a burden to society.  [playing the employed against the under-employed; middle-class against the poor]
However, then (flipping the philosophy that the poor caused their own poverty, and not prior government institutions based on the plantation/slavery model) this model philosophy is changed [playing men against women] when the poor are male, and fathers (first low-income urban males, to sell the program– they are “dead-broke, not dead-beat and just need our help,” after which it suddenly, with each re-authorizations of welfare, becomes an expanding category of child support cases, up to and including very wealthy “deadbeat Dads.”)…
Here are two quick examples (by my standards), each in its own text box.  Below that, back to this article:
The first from October, 2002.  Notice after repeatedly saying “noncustodial parents” it actually in the fine print (perhaps twice) admits it’s really talking about Dads & Fatherhood.  However, by 2002 (8 years of welfare reform and access visitation grants) no doubt plenty of mothers were by this time paying child support, without gaining much reference in the material about reducing arrears for them.  I have known of mothers threatened with jail for their inability to pay up after custody was suddenly switched from them to the father; they get a very harsh treatment.
I also knew (and eventually met) a mother wage-garnished into to homelessness, unable to get any help from a prominent Access/Visitation center to see her young son.  (I never got any help to see my children after custody-switch either, if anything, the exact opposite.  the local CSE was definitely involved in the matter, stalling its efforts to do anything about the arrears, after having likewise stalled any enforcement efforts on the arrears while the children lived with me, their mother.  When measuring “mothers living in poverty,” these fatherhood programs are actually now an active agent.)
Apart from this wage-garnishment, her income was solid middle-class; she just didn’t get that income!  The OSCE fatherhood policies had put her homeless, she was a living nightmare (in a state with snow in the winter, and sleeping in her TRUCK when possible) and eventually lost that job, before making it to retirement, completely.  She was stranded. I fail to see how doing that to a mother helps the children.

Options to Help Low-Income Noncustodial Parents Manage Their Child Support Debt By Michelle Ganow Jones  

Background Noncustodial parents can owe child support arrears for several reasons, including a failure to pay current support

Generally speaking, that’s how it happens, right?  Same anyone else is in arrears on, say, any other type of legal bill when anyone else “fails to pay.”  That’s what “in arrears” means, by definition. You owe, you don’t pay, you are “in arrears” regardless of how that feels, or causes.

After not paying current support for a while, it becomes child support arrears, at which time the help kicks in for the poor, overburdened in-arrears noncustodial parents (not the poor, child-support deprived children in their custodial parent homes, who in some cases may be driven back on welfare,  if they were off, or simply do without.)  Then the situation is ripe for picking (and more programming).

Some noncustodial parents do not make child support payments because they are unwilling to do so.

(the truth is, the system makes little effort to find out the difference.  In fact I can look up an MDRC study trying to help this category of parent, recruited into the Parents (which meant “Dads”) Fair Share program with the carrot of reduced arrears or lowered payments, only to accidentally discovered more income, disqualifying them for the program.

Yet many low-income noncustodial parents do not meet their child support obligations because they do not earn enough to pay what is ordered. For more information on the characteristics of noncustodial parents who do not pay child support, see Elaine Sorensen and Chava Zibman, Poor Dads Who Don’t Pay Child Support: Deadbeats or Disadvantaged? (Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute, April 2001), at http://newfederalism.urban.org/html/series_b/b30/b30.html.

As policymakers acknowledge that some parents do not make regular child support payments because they are “dead broke” rather than “deadbeat,” they (policymakers) have increased their understanding of the burden child support arrears can place on some noncustodial parents. Some states have begun to explore options for helping low-income noncustodial parents avoid the accumulation of child support arrears or, for those who have accrued arrears, manage their debt. This Issue Note provides an overview of the issue of child support arrears, discusses strategies that states and localities can consider to help noncustodial parents avoid and reduce arrears and make current child support payments, and suggests sources for more information. More information on child support and on noncustodial parent/fatherhood issues can be found on the Welfare Information Network (WIN) web pages on Child Support, at http://www.welfareinfo.org/childsupport.asp, and Fatherhood, athttp://www.welfareinfo.org/fatherho.asp.

By a quick count of green to red, that’s 10 “noncustodial parents” including in the title of the piece, the first sentence of the piece, and throughout the piece to 2 “fatherhood” and one “Dad.”  Only in the cites and at the end (of this segment) do they, reluctantly it seems, spit out that this actually means “men only.”  It’s a boys’ club in that category of help.

Reading on here, we see the order of priority the agency has about why they want to help noncustodial parents.  The last line shows that, getting it to the children is, actually last — and public perception, getting good evaluation by the feds of the states, AND, if you read it accurately, declining welfare roles (the original purpose of stronger enforcement capacity & funding) is ACTUALLY perceived as a problem, i.e., reduced income to the state.  I think that’s a LOT closer to the truth of why all this apparent concern for parents in arrears, and subsequent features that literally guaranteed an expanding child support (welfare) system overall.  It’s a fundraiser for the sites and program designers (policymakers) somewhere in the mix moreso than helping the children themselves:  Read the paragraphs I started for more details:

  • In fiscal 2000 nearly 10 million noncustodial parents owed a total of $84 billion in arrears, with arrears per case ranging from approximately $4,000 per case in Louisiana to $16,000 per case in Alaska. Of the $84 billion owed, which includes cumulative arrearages from previous fiscal years [[HOW MUCH OF THAT IS ARREARAGES?  NOT MENTIONED HERE]] , states collected only $6 billion—or less than 7 percent—of the total amount owed [see U.S. Department of HHS, Annual Statistical Report for Fiscal Years 1999 and 2000 (Washington, D.C.: ACF/OCSE, 2000), at ].
  • Why are child support arrears a concern for states? {{first, the good news, TO cushion the bad news…}} The child support program has made incredible strides in demonstrating effectiveness. Since the passage of the 1996 welfare reform law, which strengthened the enforcement tools available to states, collections have increased nearly 50 percent. In 2000 states made collections in 67 percent of all cases with orders, a dramatic increase over 1994 when only 38 percent of cases with orders had collections. {{now, the real problem…}} Yet, despite these successes, program administrators worry that the more than $80 billion in arrearages will prompt perceptions of inefficacy.
  • States are concerned about child support arrears for several reasons. Most fundamentally, child support enforcement agencies want to collect child support debt because it is part of their mission.

Now that’s honest.  The OCSE is not just about child support, nor does it see itself as only about that.  I don’t believe it ever has, to tell the truth.   However, they are becoming more open about this over time. 12 years ago (2000, right?) this was admitted — collecting child support debt (and preventing such debt from happening to start with) is not its mission — only PART of local state CSE agencies’ mission.

  • Collected arrears benefit the custodial family to which they are owed or reimburse the state for the cost of providing welfare. The federal government even evaluates state performance and uses as a performance indicator the number of cases in arrears with collections.
  • Agencies also worry that having a significant amount of outstanding arrears will create a perception of poor program performance among state citizens and legislators. As the welfare caseload has fallen, the percentage of child support cases that are current welfare recipients has similarly declined. Because of the fall in current assistance cases, the state and federal governments retain fewer child support collections as reimbursement for the cost of providing welfare, and legislators are increasingly being asked to provide more state funds to operate the child support program. For more information on child support financing issues, see the WIN Issue Note “New Challenges for States in Financing Child Support” by Michelle Ganow Jones, at http://www.welfareinfo.org/csfinancingissuenote.htm.
  • In addition, some states have begun to realize that large arrears can drive noncustodial parents away from the child support system and dissuade them from making any child support payments.

Well, for example, it should be immediately obvious that a man in prison isn’t likely to produce much child support through wage garnishments.  Maybe levels were set inappropriately high — or maybe the man just doesn’t want to pay, as it says above.  How were those arrears accumulated to start with?

And the Second Example is from a Congressional Research Summary, found on a post “coloradodads”:

Fatherhood Initiatives: Connecting Fathers to Their Children
Carmen Solomon-Fears
Specialist in Social Policy December 21, 2010Congressional Research Service
7-5700 ~ http://www.crs.gov ~ RL31025
“Prepared for Members of Congress and their Committees”


Summary:

In 2010, 24% of families with children (under age 18) were maintained by mothers. According to some estimates, 60% of children born during the 1990s will spend a significant portion of their childhood in a home without their father. Research indicates that children raised in single-parent families are more likely than children raised in two-parent families (with both biological parents) to do poorly in school, have emotional and behavioral problems, become teenage parents, and have poverty-level incomes. In hopes of improving the long-term outlook for children in single- parent families, federal, state, and local governments, along with public and private organizations, are supporting programs and activities that promote the financial and personal responsibility of noncustodial fathers to their children and increase the participation of fathers in the lives of their children. These programs have come to be known as “responsible fatherhood” programs.

. . .

OK, the author wastes no time in targeting the about 1 in 4 (24%) “families maintained by mothers,” then switches the item being tabulated from Families to Children, upping the statement to 60% .  Many families have more than one child, right?  So obviously, to count children vs. families is going to get a higher %  of children born “in the 1990s” (and why not back it up 17 years to exactly 1993, as the 2010 figure was “children under 18,” for some consistency?). Then we go to a vague term “significant portion (as defined by ???) to the desired topic of focus “a home without their father.” This is pure “spin” and none of it cited here, including WHOSE “research indicates.

Right after “home without a father” comes the panoply of problems, after which the paragraph concludes that this, truly, must be why “federal, state and local governments (by the way take a look at Federal government; 2012 elections, and how many women. Do the same for state and local governments, too?) and private organizations (not listed). Finally, the paragraph concludes, they’re not just trying to get these fathers to take financial but also PERSONAL responsibility.

As the fathers’ rights activists from Ms. Stevenson’s blog say, this is not for the good dads and loving parents; it’s for those that need all this extra incentive to take personal responsibility for their kids. Next, it goes into, where that money is coming FROM.

This is a lot of spin for a Congressional Research Service. A 2005 report.   A 2009 Memo from Ms. Spears and another on the Julia Carson Responsible Fatherhood Act (which didn’t pass, but they tried). Back to this 2010 CRS report… where did the money come from?

Sources of federal funding for fatherhood programs include the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, TANF state Maintenance-of-Effort (MOE) funding, welfare-to-work funds, Child Support Enforcement (CSE) funds, and Social Services Block Grant (Title XX) funds.

{{above, note that federal, state, local and private & public organizations were all involved.  Too bad women are not told this when signing up for help!}}

Beginning with the 106th Congress, the House, but not the Senate, passed bills containing specific funding for responsible fatherhood initiatives (in the 107th and 108th Congresses as part of welfare reauthorization bills). Moreover, from the start {{2001}}, President George W. Bush was a supporter of responsible fatherhood programs; each of his budgets included funding for such programs.

In the 109th Congress, P.L. 109-171 (the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005) was enacted. It included a provision that provides up to $50 million per year (FY2006-FY2010) in competitive grants to states, territories, Indian tribes and tribal organizations, and public and nonprofit community groups (including religious organizations) for responsible fatherhood initiatives.

{{In addition, per fatherhood.gov, this DRA also authorized funding for the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, see recent posts..}}

In the 110th Congress, bills were introduced but not passed that would have, among other things, increased federal funding of responsible fatherhood programs.

There were several responsible fatherhood bills introduced during the 111th Congress. In addition, the Obama Administration’s FY2011 budget included a proposal to substantially increase funding for responsible fatherhood programs under a proposed new Fatherhood, Marriage, and Families Innovation Fund. Under the proposal, the new fund would have received $500 million for FY2011 (this proposal was not passed by either the House or the Senate). Instead, P.L. 111-291 (enacted December 8, 2010) extended funding for the Title IV-A Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grants for an additional year (i.e., through FY2011). For FY2011, it appropriated $75 million for awarding funds for healthy marriage promotion activities and $75 million for awarding funds for activities promoting responsible fatherhood.

{[here is what they really do}}

Most fatherhood programs include media campaigns that emphasize the importance of emotional, physical, psychological, and financial connections of fathers to their children. Most fatherhood programs include parenting education; responsible decision-making; mediation services for both parents; providing an understanding of the CSE program; conflict resolution, coping with stress, and problem-solving skills; peer support; and job-training opportunities (skills development, interviewing skills, job search, job-retention skills, job-advancement skills, etc.).

{{guess who those programs profit, and who runs them….}}

The federal government’s support of fatherhood initiatives raises a wide array of issues.

(emphasis mine.  You’re d@mn right it does!)

This report briefly examines the role of the CSE agency in fatherhood programs and discusses initiatives to promote and support father-child interaction outside the framework of the father- mother relationship.

{{that’s right, OUTSIDE of the father-mother relationship…}}


Back to “HHS 5 MOST DANGEROUS PROGRAMS” BLOG, ABOVE:

These HHS policies created a new breed of dangerous Welfare Kings through HHS Office of Child Support Enforcement when it began subsidizing the homes and legal battles of the unfit, unwilling, and violent fathers. {{emphases mine/LGH}}

At the beginning of a custody case, only the offender is sick, but if one violent offender gets custody, the whole family needs treatment. Consequently, it is also not uncommon for dozens of family court mental health and legal professionals onto the case to sustain his deadly custody rights through HHS programs.

The top 5 HHS programs endangering women and children are:

1. Child Support Enforcement (Access and Visitation Programs and Responsible Fatherhood Initiative2011 report from the Office of the Inspector General demonstrates that the States are collecting child support, but not disbursing it to the children it is intended to benefit. So where is the money going?


The ramifications of the OCSE (creation of “Child Support Enforcement”) are nationwide, and affect everyone — as was the SSAct to start with.  We cannot, eventually, avoid dealing with this factor; some national repentance may be in order for having, yet again, farmed out responsibility for self-government (locally) to someone else and been too busy feeding this system (in hopes of our own pensions, etc.), and supporting an increasing construction of, for example, the prison industry with fantastic profits for shareholders, and dangers (let’s get honest about that, it includes rape, injury, death sometimes, trauma) for the inmates, who also, are put to good use as a slave labor force.  See “CCA” page to the right, and/or look up a recent successful attempt by an ex-inmate to get the shareholders to make a conscious decision on the matter of how to better reduce inmate rape and sexual assault (by guards, they are talking about).
I would like to show how the wonderful programs to eliminate and reduce the welfare caseload has been working, somewhere inbetween the $80 billion arrears not collected at one point, the many more millions wanted for MORE marriage and fatherhood promotion and supporting dangerous, violent (and of course dead-broke but not dead-beat) fathers — along with all the policymakers who love to study them, and the causes of poverty:
It is, as I said, trapping people in poverty, by diverting funds that would otherwise have sustained them into programming.  As this blog points out, that’s a lot of money and as my next blog is going to point out, most don’t know where it went, or really have access to functional information (versus SPIN) about our own government(s) anyhow.
But there is a way to get a hold of some of it, and identify to what extent we’ve been played for the fools.  To think that this characteristic itself isn’t going to affect the courts, is (in my opinion) ridiculous.  Who funds the courts?  Who funds/owns the real estate the courts are in?   Who’s paying for the public employee pensions of the people staffing the courts?  How about the judges, the attorneys, the mediators, the child support administrative agencies; the bailiffs, the court clerks — the GALs.  The conferences that all of these run.  The parent coordinators, child custody evaluators; the family court facilitators.  The family justice center alliances.  The faith-based fatherhood programming.  The domestic violence experts that collaborate with the same to give it the rubber stamp of approval, while not mentioning (AFCC and friends).   WHO FUNDS all this stuff?
Does it save lives.  Does it improve the quality of life for the participants — or for those supporting it, by having the courts handle the poor, the disenfranchised, or the people that can’t keep their marriages together?
How much does it all cost?  Give me the rundown — give me a best guess, and approximate.  After all — if you’re engaged as  citizen in the country and in the Social Security or Business or Employee in this country (as a resident of any particular state),  you are basically invested in this.
You don’t know, really — do you!  Well guess who else doesn’t know? (see next post, after this last reminder chart)….

Food Stamp Usage Reaches Record High with 15% of America on Food Stamps

Food stamp usage has soared to a new record high of 47,102,780. As of August 2012, 1 in 6.7 people are on food stamps in the United States. That’s 15.0% of people living in America are on food assistance. The United States population in middle of August 2012 was 314,484,000 and this figure includes everyone, including Americans overseas. Food stamp usage increased 2.9% from August 2011 and 0.9% from July 2012.

food stamp usage graph

Since October 2007, food stamp usage has increased 74.4%. Population has increased 3.9% during the same time period. That is how badly America is hurting.

This is the largest increase in food stamp usage in a year, both on a monthly basis and in comparison to one year ago, graphed below.

. . . .To be Continued, PART II, on the Next Post.  Obviously this one got long!

Written by Let's Get Honest

November 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm

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martinplaut

Journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?...' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

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