U.S. CRIMINALIZES PARENTS

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may
be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber
barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies."
C.S Lewis

In a recent move to drop the hammer on so-called "deadbeat dads", the state of Idaho passed a law recently that would increase the penalties for parents who have fallen behind on child support payments. The new law that goes into effect Jan. 1, 1997, would permit the suspension of any state license that the delinquent parent might hold, including a driver's license, hunting or fishing permits, and even occupational licenses. Idaho joins 38 other states that have also passed similar legislation, however, this apparent effort to enforce parental responsibility has deeper ramifications than merely making fathers "pay up".

Idaho's new law is the strictest among the states, going so far as to include parents that violate court ordered visitation rights in the license suspension program. Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokesman, Ross Mason, was quoted by the Coeur d'Alene press as saying, "It's a hammer to hold over somebody's head - and it's a serious hammer."

Child support enforcement took a significant turn when Congress passed the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992. Public law 102-521 "imposes a federal criminal penalty for the willful failure to pay a past-due child support obligation with respect to a child who resides in another state that has remained unpaid for longer than a year or is greater than $5,000. For the first conviction the penalty is a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than six months; for a second conviction, a fine of not more than $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two years." (Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Child Support Enforcement 19th Annual Report).

This legislation also made certain federal funds available to the states contingent on their cracking down on the NCP (non-complying parent). Many states then proceeded to enact the toughest measures ever by suspending state licenses possessed by the debtor parent. In the past, federal measures have included coordinating out-of-state wage garnishment and withholding federal income tax refunds as a means of collecting back child support. It is evident that 1992 brought a major shift in the character of the government's approach to this issue. Debts became criminalized in a manner that is reminiscent of the age of the debtor's prisons and the stockade. Failure to pay is now a federal crime and the apparatus for tracking "deadbeat" parents embraces the entire nation in a police state system of surveillance.

In order to continue receiving federal money, states were required to establish a system to monitor all persons employed within the state. "Every state that does not have a Statewide automated tracking and monitoring system in effect must submit an advance planning document that meets Federal requirement by October 1, 1991. By October 1, 1995, every state must have an approved system in effect. Federal 90 percent matching rates (funds) for this activity expire September 30, 1995." (ibid)

Each state has developed its own tracking, monitoring and enforcement mechanism that complies with the federal mandate. Massachusetts, for example, requires employers to submit to the state the employee's name, social security number and yearly earnings within fourteen days of hire. The old quarterly W-4 filing was not fast enough to catch "Occupationally mobile NCP's", which is the federal term for the growing number of temporarily employed parents who are behind in their child support.

California requires employers within sixteen industries to report their new employee's data within thirty days. Texas and Washington have also tightened reporting requirements to keep track of their migrant work forces. Information reported to the State's Employment Security Agency (SESA) is transferred to the Federal Parent Locater System.

"The Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) provides Social Security Numbers (SSNs), addresses, and employer and wage information to State and local CSE (Child Support Enforcement) agencies to establish and enforce child support orders. The FPLS utilizes the most current information available from the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Veterans Affairs, Selective Service System (SSS), and State Employment Security Agencies." (ibid).

In July of 1995, the Federal District Court of Arizona dealt the Child Support Recovery Act a setback when it declared that Congress had overstepped its authority. Evidently the "interstate commerce" clause of the Constitution was stretched a little thin. President Clinton objected to the ruling and said, "The Child Support Recovery Act gives us the power to punish deadbeat parents who cross state lines to avoid paying child support. It is essential for federal law enforcement to have this authority because the states cannot bring these criminals to justice -- especially the 'hard core' group of parents who flagrantly move from state to state to evade their obligations." The Justice Department has appealed this ruling.

There is little question in anyone's mind that it is the duty of both parents to support the child they bring into this world and that there is an epidemic of children born out of wedlock, or families deserted by the bread winner, which become dependent on the welfare system. These are symptoms of a society in its final stages of disintegration. What is not clear is the insidious propaganda behind the "criminal deadbeat" label that the media/political machine applies so readily.

What is almost of no concern to anyone is that debt has been criminalized. Today one may be jailed for back child support, tomorrow it may be for another class of debt. The government reserves for itself the discretion of not prosecuting those who have fallen on hard times as opposed to prosecuting the "hardcore deadbeats". The language of the law, however, makes no distinction.

What has gone almost unnoticed is that the federal government has constructed a huge apparatus for monitoring everyone that works ostensibly for the purpose of enforcing child support. Names, addresses, social security numbers and income information from many local, state and federal agencies are funneled into the FPLS data bank. Now that the apparatus is in place, this data base could be used for any other purpose that the governing powers dictate. An example of this is how social security numbers have evolved into a kind of national identification number used on credit applications, tax forms and a myriad of other forms that have nothing to do with social security benefits.

The tragedy of all of this is that it is all done under the guise of "helping children"; and going after their "hardcore, deadbeat" parents. Americans these days are easily mollified by these deceptive sound bites, especially when a pretense for helping children is made. It is true that parents must not abandon their children to become burdens of the state, however, it is very clear that the focus of the government's efforts in dealing with the problem has been to establish an apparatus of control, and not to address the social rot that is the true cause of all this misery.

In today's globalized economy, pressures on the family have risen to new heights as both parents are required to work in many cases. The children are raised by the state from preschool onward. As the economy fluctuates, families are uprooted from their familiar neighborhoods and moved where the work is, further reducing them to slavish dependency and removing them from the support of their extended family and friends. Family bonds are strained and often disintegrate in this national slave labor camp.

Without addressing every aspect of divorce, illegitimacy and child support, we wish to point out that government is all too willing to step in and manage and control the lives of children in this age, with or without consent of both parents. As the state then raises the child, one or both parents are tracked and controlled by the state. Control is the goal, not the betterment of the child or society.

If our President was truly concerned about children, he would not support the outright murder of over 1.5 million unborn children a year, many of whom are viable human beings just minutes from a normal delivery. If our President cared about children, he would not support economic sanctions against Iraq that has resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 children in that country. If he cared about children, he would have expressed his horror over the 20 children that went to their fiery deaths while under assault by government tanks near Waco, Texas in 1993.

If anyone will weigh the evidence with an open mind, he will see a system of government whose tyranny is matched only by its hypocrisy. As it is written, "Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."


Wisdom And Freedom produced by WORLD NEWSSTAND
Copyright © 1999. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

page image by Terri Williams Carnright

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