Hostages to Fortune

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New at Reason: From the December issue, Cathy Young considers the arguments of the fathers' rights movement.

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  1. “The government, Baskerville wrote, actively undermines marriage by allowing no-fault divorce”

    Allowing people to opt out of a contract when they want = government activism. With the corollary that compelling they to remain against their will = laissez faire? Strike One.

    “one of the most dishonest and destructive policies ever foisted on the public: child-support enforcement.” You don’t get to walk away from the kids you brought intot the world. They cost money, and it’s your responsiblity to pitch in, deadbeat. Strike two.

    “In fact, two-thirds of divorces are initiated by wives.” Similarly, the “divorce” of East Germany from the Soviet empire was initiated by East Germany. Should we feel sorry for the Soviets? Should we blame the East German people for the breakup? Sometimes, women who leave a marriage have good reasons for doing so. Sometimes they don’t. What we need is a system where someone in a positin to JUDGE the evidence allows both sides to make their case, and decide who should be held responsible for the breakup, and what the disposition of the kids should be. Oh, wait…

  2. Three strawmen in one post, well done Joe!

    1) That’s Baskerville’s position, not Young’s. He’s not arguing from a libertarian standpoint.

    2) Ditto #1.

    3) Young isn’t arguing for a move away from judges ruling on custody, but rather for them to take different concerns into consideration when they do so.

    Which do you do first — read the article or write up a response? I’m not sure anymore.

  3. I meant to pay my child support, but instead I got high.

  4. So my “strawmen” were, you acknowledge, accurate descriptions of Baskerville’s positions. Why don’t you look up the word’s definition and get back to me.

  5. Those are strawpersons, possibly even strawpersons of color …

  6. …or better yet, go shit in your hat if you can’t argue on the merits.

  7. You’re arguing against Baskerville by trying to point out his positions are hypocritical with respect to libertarianism… but he’s not claiming to be libertarian.

    Then you say Young’s recommendations are wrong and that we should stick to the current system of judges instead… but she’s not claiming we should move away from judges.

    In both cases, you make your point by arguing against a case the author isn’t making. If that’s not a strawman, what is?

  8. “I write my posts for literate people who are able to follow a logical progression without handholding. I’m not going to dumb things down for you like this in the future. Keep up.”

    Excellent, Joe. But can you do it without name-calling?

  9. First of all, Josh, libertarians don’t have a trademark on the word “laissez-faire.” (Although most of you wouldn’t care if you did.) But when someone argues that the government is interfering in matters that should be private, and that this interference in causing problems for the culture, then he’s clearly coming from the small-government-conservative side of things.

    Baskerville bases his position on an “activist government” intruding on private matters. Then he recommends that divorces not be granted unless a judge decides to let you have one. Yeah, that’s hypocritical.

    Then he argues against the enforcement of court ordered child support. In other words, if a father doesn’t pay for his kids financial needs, nothing should happen to him. That’s not hypocritical, just wildly irresponsible. But then, I never accused him of being a hypocrite on this point.

    As for the third point, Young stated the fact that 2/3 of divorces are initiated by women, and presented this as evidence that women were too quick to leave marriages. An equally plausible explaination is that women have to put up with more abuse and misery than men, and the 2:1 ratio in divorce initiations demonstrates this. See, that’s the East Germany comparison; the decision of the German people to “divorce” the Soviet Union is not evidence of structural bias in favor of East Germany, but of problems in the relationship and the abusive behavior the Soviets. I brought up the judge comment to argue in favor of a case-by-case decision making process, rather than the drawing of broad conclusions based on statistics.

    I write my posts for literate people who are able to follow a logical progression without handholding. I’m not going to dumb things down for you like this in the future. Keep up.

  10. You want fucked up? In Ontario, if you get divorced, leave your life partner, whatever, it is impossible to have an amicable split. Why? Because the provincial government requires that you send your support payments to your former partner through their agency. First they skim a portion off the top, then they send the rest on. This is all done in the name of preventing the deadbeat dad syndrome. Mind you, there is NO meachanism for preventing the deadbeat mom habit. Sometimes, you yankees aren’t so loopy after all.

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