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Fathers no longer cost-effective?

By Carey Roberts
web posted November 20, 2006

I'm not one who is prone to get misty-eyed, but Tim Russert's latest book did it.

Two years ago Russert penned a moving tribute to his own father, Big Russ and Me, which quickly became a New York Times best-seller. Russert was inundated with so many poignant letters that he decided to compile them into a sequel, Wisdom of Our Fathers. Now that book has become a run-away top-seller, as well.

There's a message here: persons have an enormous sense of gratitude for the many things – big and small – that dad did for them. I know, that's exactly how I feel about my father.

But there is a small yet influential group in our society that views fatherhood as an anachronism and a stubborn obstacle to their utopian vision of the social welfare state. And they see divorce and award of child custody to mothers as a highly-effective ploy to achieve their goal.

When one million children experience divorce each year, and when custody is awarded to mothers in 85% of cases, you can see the scope of the problem. If you want to scale down male influence in a society, what better way than to bar fathers from seeing their own sons and daughters?

So this past spring, Mitch Sanderson of Grand Forks, North Dakota set out to make things better for kids. He canvassed voters throughout the state, collecting signatures for a measure on the November ballot to promote shared parenting. The petition stated that in the event of divorce, "each parent would be entitled to joint legal and physical custody unless first declared unfit."

One of Sanderson's most vocal supporters was grandmother Myrna Meidinger, who explained, "If you don't have shared parenting like I went through, it's hard to see your grandkids." Before long over 17,000 signatures were gathered, proving that the shared parenting idea enjoyed support throughout the state.

But what happened next is comprehensible only if you remember the old saying, "Follow the money." Under federal regulations, states stand to gain millions in federal incentives and reimbursements by increasing their child support rolls. If kids spend equal time with dad and mom, child support payments are reduced accordingly.

So in July, Thomas Sullivan of the federal Administration for Children and Families (the gargantuan federal agency that runs our child support apparatus) sent a letter to state senator Tom Fisher. Since the measure would reduce federal largesse by $70 million, citizens should vote against the pro-child ballot initiative, Sullivan argued.

Since when are green-visor bureaucrats allowed to lobby state legislators?

As columnist Stephen Baskerville lamented, "federal bureaucrats are now using taxpayers' money to strong-arm citizens from democratic decisions that, by relieving a serious social problem, threaten to render the bureaucrats redundant."

Then North Dakota Human Services director Carol Olson weighed in with the same Chicken-Little message, raising the specter of federal cutbacks. How could anyone so brazenly ignore the well-being of children?

This catapulted Mitch Sanderson's sleeper initiative into the most-debated topic throughout the state. Soon former governor Ed Schaeffer announced his support for the shared parenting measure.

Schaeffer also chastised the lawyer-dominated state legislature for dragging its feet on the issue. Remember, when divorcing couples litigate high-priced child custody disputes, it's the lawyers who make out like bandits.

Proving Mr. Schaeffer's point to be true, the North Dakota bar association soon jumped into the fray. The attorneys hastily assembled a front organization known as the North Dakota Concerned Citizens for Children's Rights. Soon the group was resorting to scare tactics such as the claim that shared parenting would "dismantle the current child support system."


Two years ago a similar ballot measure was presented to the voters of Massachusetts, where 85% of the electorate approved the idea.

But this time, the lawyers, social workers, and others who profit from family break-up succeeded in sowing enough confusion to tip the balance. Earlier this month, the shared parenting measure was defeated by a 56% to 44% margin, thus dashing the hopes of Mitch Sanderson, Myrna Meidinger, and the many kids who, like the persons who wrote loving tributes in Tim Russert's book, long to see their daddies.

Brock Chisolm, former head of the World Health Organization, once admitted, "To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men, their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism, and religious dogmas." Men are often the staunchest defenders of those democratic ideals, so it only makes sense to marginalize males by any means possible.

Usually the Lefties work their mischief behind closed doors. But this time around, the rats came scurrying out of the woodwork. ESR

Carey Roberts is a Staff Writer for The New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.


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