There is no doubt how I feel about deadbeat dads; in fact, I have made that quite clear, and recently, that as a single dad, deadbeat dads make my life more difficult. Even so, as a person that actually pays child support (and more than I’ve been asked, by the way), I admit to a touch of confusion on the subject of punishment for deadbeats.
Don’t be too confused at all. I do believe that men, or now increasingly, women, who don’t pay child support for their children when asked by either their significant other or the legal system, are a low class indeed. Truly, who but the most trifling of society wouldn’t want their children to be taken care of when they aren’t there? I know that I do.
However, I’m torn about the punishment for those neglectful people. In my state, the most popular punishment for failing to pay child support? Revoking their driver’s license.
Now, at first glance this seems ok. After all, driving is a privilege, not a right. Surely this would entice people to pay their child support, so that the state doesn’t have to take up the slack with welfare programs, right?
I say wrong. In this particular case, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, and I think that it’s easy to see why. A reasonable person can see that the people that most likely to pay their child support are the those that are most able to pay. Therefore, it’s easy to infer that those are least likely to pay their child support are those that are LEAST able to pay, meaning, the poor.
So, you’re a poor person who has been ordered to pay child support. What are your choices?
1. Pay. Unfortunately, you’re poor, and can’t pay. Does this mean get another job in today’s economy?
2. Don’t pay, and lose your driver’s license, which for a lot of people, means either losing their job, or busing or cabbing to work. For many poor, especially in areas without mass transit, this is probably a poor option.
3. Don’t pay, and flee to stay ahead of the legal system, leaving behind at least one poor child without one parent.
There are the options, and that’s exactly why yanking the driver’s license doesn’t work; it leaves an already relatively poor person with an actual incentive to abandon their children. Hence, you get the permanent underclass of a poor child and single parent, and legal scofflaws. Surely that can’t be the intended impact of the law.
It’s a poor policy, especially in our vehicle-centric society.
Let’s look for other options for deadbeats, please. But deadbeat dads still drive me crazy.