On ‘deadbeat Dads’ and Cactus Kate’s post

June 30, 2011

Thanks Toad for being faster on the draw than I am today.

Oh, and Bomber replied too, here.

Cactus Kate:
It was with mounting horror that I read your post today, and realised you had taken phrases out of context, from the comments made by myself and some other solo mothers, some 3 years ago. Nothing any of us (g.bloggers, who as Toad has said, do not represent Green Party policy, but speak for ourselves as individuals, or commenters, many of whom were not green members to my knowledge) said was advocating the kind of responses that you suggested.

I personally have resolved some of my financial issues by shifting the domicile of my teenagers back into their father’s responsibility, due to a major illness I am experiencing. He now acknowledges that child support, while he grumbled about it, is nowhere near as expensive as feeding teenagers 24/7, not to mention living with their tastes in music and clothes. FWIW, he did get taken by IRD and given a good shaking, and had to pay up for telling porkies about his salary and various other assets to IRD. Not that I saw any of it, he owed it to MSD via IRD.

In general, women I know, and know of, on the DPB are now worse off than they were before 2008. Not just because of the change of government, but because of the recession, and a bunch of futures speculation in food crops on the NYSE that led to global food price rises in most of the staple foods. CPI increases over the past 3 years have not been incorporated into benefits. Many more people are relying on Special Benefits to cover basic costs, as the ceiling for base benefit levels has been exceeded by price increases in every cost sector.

It’s not just teenage mums, or young women straight out of uni falling pregnant and going on the DPB. We’ve had this little thing called ‘the Christchurch earthquakes’ happen in NZ, which has changed the playing field for a lot of women. The combined Women’s Refuges of Christchurch have lost half of their available accommodation due to quake damage, and as domestic violence levels have soared in the city, they have been shipping families around the country to Refuges in other provinces where there is capacity available. Approximately 20,000 households have been displaced in Christchurch; a lot of marriages have broken up under the strain of watching the family home (the only asset a lot of working class NZ families ever own, their only retirement capital) turn into a broken pile of crap that the CERA, the insurance corporations and the EQC are now arguing over liabilities for.

Please don’t use my arguments to justify your narrow bigotry and repetition of mother-bashing myths about welfare consumers.
Quite a lot of men who look ‘ok’ in their twenties, a ‘good catch’ in their 30’s, can turn out to be the worst kind of hell to be married to when they start hitting the mothers of their children when the economy turns sour & money troubles begin. For a lot of those mothers, walking away and living the rest of one’s life on less than one is accustomed to is a damn sight more viable than sitting still and being beaten whenever he gets the bills in the mail.

Do not presume to assume that everyone who ends up on the DPB started out with nothing to their name; you’re a lawyer, you’ll have met some of the pond-scum lawyers who advise men how to defraud their ex-partners and children so they can set up with a clean slate (financially) with a new partner and family.

And on behalf of those women who were/are young solo mothers, sterilising young mothers is as brutal a solution as the social welfare policies of the 60’s, when young women who became unmarried mothers were forced to adopt out their babies at barely six weeks old. It certainly solved problems for older, infertile couples who wanted children to adopt, but it did nothing for the mental state of the mothers, or for the children.
By the same token, telling a 25-year-old solo mother that she has just experienced her one chance to have offspring, ‘tough luck he ran out on her & we’re going to neuter her so that she never has a chance to form a stable relationship’, is cruel and lacking in compassion.
For this to be advanced as a serious policy to deal with the welfare budget is disingenuous indeed, given that superannuation is by far the biggest cost in MSD. It will continue to be so until the baby boomer generation have shuffled off, then we’re going to be right back where we started, with a population and skills shortage.

I suggest you learn to think of policy happening in cycles that are longer than the 3 years between elections. Like, say, the eighteen years it takes to bring a baby to young adulthood, with all the attendant feeding, clothing, educating and housing that it requires.
There’s quite a lot of reasonable social policy around that topic, that timeframe – it can be found in the Ministries of Health, Education, Social Development, and even within MED, if you look at the demographic projections closely enough. Not to mention Family Court policy within Ministry of Justice.

Where I do agree with you is that men need to take responsibility; for their offspring, their attitudes, their drinking and their raping. It’s only a problem in a minority of cases, or else we wouldn’t be having this argument, you too would be a survivor of domestic violence.

There are very good reasons why some women don’t want their rapists name on their child’s birth certificate. An abusive man is not someone you want having any legal right to take your child. Don’t believe every sob story an attractive single, apparently childless man tells you after a few drinks, the Courts don’t allow such birth certification easily, and some women have had to go to great lengths to prevent any legal claim on the person of their child.

Family Courts are not biased towards women, if anything more men succeed in Court to gain custody and access provisions that suit them. There is no law in NZ to require a father to spend time with his offspring, something custody negotiations often fail to take into account. What looks good on paper is not necessarily going to happen in practice.

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