Men saddled with crushing child support obligations, forced to live on scraps or else fall into a desperate sea of mounting debt. A few of them are white-collar guys who once held respectable jobs and lived in comfortable houses.
Time marches forward, and the cases only become more bizarre.
Steve Barreras paid $20,000 to support his daughter, a girl he had never met. In fact, she didn't even exist. His ex-wife Viola Trevino took another family's daughter to court and claimed the child as hers. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has now ordered an investigation.
In Michigan, Terrace Hale had $300 garnished from each paycheck for three years. The money went to support a woman he's never met to raise a child he's never fathered. Now, Marilyn Stephen, director of the Michigan Office of Child Support, refuses to give Mr. Hale's money back.
Then there are those cases of adolescent boys who were victimized twice. First by their adult female rapists, and then by an inflexible child support system that came knocking.
The voice of justice and outrage asks, How could this happen in America?
The answer can be found in our nation's 30-year crusade to extract child support payments from mostly minority, low-income fathers, men who now bear the contemptuous epithet, "Deadbeat Dads."
Last year professor Stephen Baskerville of Howard University probed the allegations that have been leveled against these "deadbeats." His must-read article, "Is There Really a Fatherhood Crisis?," reached some surprising conclusions:
Charge #1: Most marriages break up because fathers "have chosen to abandon their children," as president Bill Clinton once put it.
Not true. Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen found that women file for divorce in 70% of cases. Likewise, Arizona State University psychologist Sanford Braver reports in his book Divorced Dads that two out of three divorces are initiated by women.
Charge #2: When women do leave the marriage, it's to escape domestic violence and abuse.
False. The number one reason cited by divorcing moms, according to Braver, is "not feeling loved or appreciated," and not anything to do with violence.
Charge #3: Dads don't pay their child support because they don't care about their kids.
Absurd. A 1998 Rutgers and University of Texas study concluded: "many of the absent fathers who state leaders want to track down and force to pay child support are so destitute that their lives focus on finding the next job, next meal, or next night's shelter." The problem is not dads who are dead-beats, the problem is men who are dead-broke.
Charge #4: Kids don't really need their dads, anyway.
Absolutely false. This is the most scurrilous myth of all, because the truth is the polar opposite, and the harmful effects on children are so great. "Virtually every major social pathology has been linked to fatherless children: violent crime, drug and alcohol abuse, truancy, unwed pregnancy, suicide, and psychological disorders," notes Baskerville.
It is no coincidence that all four of these myths place fathers in a bad light. And that suits the Divorce Industry - that veritable army of lawyers, family court judges, custody evaluators, and child support enforcers -- just fine.
These myths have become so ingrained in our thinking that basic Constitutional protections are being casually tossed aside. One brief on child support from the Left-leaning National Conference of State Legislatures made this stunning recommendation: "The burden of proof may be shifted to the defendant," which of course means, "Fathers can be assumed to be guilty until proven innocent."
Of course, it's divorce that triggers the monstrous child support machinery to lurch into motion. The rise of no-fault, unilateral divorce does not trouble the Sisterhood. In fact, they welcome it.
Over the past 50 years, the National Association of Women Lawyers has spearheaded the adoption of no-fault divorce legislation throughout the country, laws that made marital dissolution that much easier. The NAWL now notes with satisfaction, "the ideal of no-fault divorce became the guiding principle for reform of divorce laws in the majority of states."
A growing divorce rate. Disenfranchised dads. Children lacking paternal guidance and protection. An ever-expanding child support apparatus. Careless disregard of Constitutional protections. A growing totalitarian mindset.
That's the Matriarchy at work.