Children are not toys to be forgotten

NONE

Recently Attorney Leslie Johnson Aldrich wrote an editorial letter condemning the State of North Dakota for allowing what Attorney Aldrich refers to as a “new levy” providing North Dakota the ability to levy a business account or that of a remarried person responsible for paying child support who has remarried and shares a joint bank account with the a new spouse. This so-called levy enables the Child Support Enforcement Unit of the state to go after and secure arrearages owed for unpaid child support.

And the problem with this is what exactly? I’m sure Attorney Johnson-Aldrich wants the best advantage for her clients who divorce and rely on child support from their ex-spouse enabling them to provide additional income for the many basic necessities it takes day to day to care for every child, regardless the status of their parents’ marital connection. So if a non-custodial parent is not paying his or her child support, North Dakota’s Child Support Enforcement Unit should have every means and avenue available to make certain the parental obligations for monetary support are met by both parents. The monetary responsibility and obligations for bringing a child into the world should never be only that of the parent who has physical custody and is already meeting both physical and mental needs of their child every day.

According to a May, 2009 report released to the media, North Dakota’s State Disbursement Unit reached a $1 BILLION (that’s BILLION, with a “B”) milestone in child support collections. Imagine the number if there were no Child Support Enforcement Unit? I’m betting that number would be significantly lower. In 2009, the CSE program reported serving 60,000 children residing in North Dakota, as well as other states and counties. The CSE is a centralized state disbursement unit that receives the child support payments it disburses. A conservative number is about $10 million per month in support with that number growing.

Why is this important? When a parent fails to support the child or children they have brought into the world the rest of us live in, it causes an overall negative impact on the community in which that child lives, and more importantly, on the child who needs to be financially supported. The results are often seen in poor school performance, increases in juvenile delinquency, and health problems both mental and physical; often the custodial parent is forced onto the rolls of public assistance for rent, medical care and food programs. Ultimately the taxpayer is asked to step up and help because of the irresponsibility of one parent to fulfill their immediate obligations to his or her child.

Yet, Attorney Johnson-Aldrich feels a person owning a business, who has employees who need to be paid or a new spouse who shares a joint bank account, is more important than the child he or she owes child support to but is not paying? I don’t agree. I don’t care who you are, if you have a child or children you brought into this world, your first and foremost obligation is to that child or children. All else, including oneself, is secondary.

Garnishments on paychecks are made and served to businesses every day because of arrearages of child support payments. These are normal legal procedures drawn up by attorneys and sanctioned by the courts. We have a friend to whom this happened, and this man actually received a check from his employer that provided him with $ 0.00 at the end of the week on several occasions, due to child support he owed and that went to his four children.

He wasn’t happy about not having any money coming in for another week, I’m sure. But he also realized he had four children he was half, at least, monetarily responsible for. It was not the fault of his four children his marriages did not work.

More power to the Child Support Enforcement units in going after whomever they need to for being dead-beat parents. If a responsible parent shirks his or her responsibility and the only entity with a strong enough or long enough “arm” can rein them in and force them to help support their children by using garnishments or levies if need be, why in blue blazes not?

ROTE READER’S FEED BACK

A few weeks ago I wrote about not needing or wanting my government becoming my “second conscience” or a “Nanny” in relation to making laws that individuals over 18 and of “adult” age should be able to determine for themselves. Specifically non-smoking in bars and instituting mandatory seat belt laws.

Boy-o-boy! I definitely got emails back on that and few supported me. Nearly all I heard from let me know I was not only wrong, but DEAD WRONG and they definitely support mandatory seatbelt laws as well as non-smoking in bars and other public places. Most cited statistics on each, and how many lives have been saved with seatbelts and why smoking or even breathing “second hand smoke” is lethal and no one should be forced to do so; therefore, mandating no-smoking rules in all places the public at large might wander should be enforced.

Hey! I’m not arguing the obvious health considerations and beneficial points on either. I said that in the column I wrote.

What I am arguing is– tell me where in the constitution does it say we are guaranteed no risks in life? Life itself is a risk. Crossing the street, taking a shower, eating greasy and fattening foods, refusing to get health checks at certain ages or never exercising or eating vegetables are all “risky” behaviors. What about drinking alcohol? Talk about a “risky” behavior that certainly costs lives and costs each and every single taxpaying American KA-JILLIONS of dollars every cotton pickin’ year! And in more ways than cigarettes have EVER cost. Don’t think so? Really? DUI’s and traffic fatalities probably cause more insurance companies to raise their rates than anything I can think of on individual rates. Alcohol cost another KA-JILLION bucks to everyone for the need of larger police forces. How many assaulters, murderers or domestic violators are arrested because of cigarettes? Now substitute ”alcohol” for the word “cigarettes” and what is your answer? And I’ll bet when questioning two people, at least one knows someone who has been arrested on a DUI/DWI or another charge due to some incident related to alcohol. So where are the people leading the charge on stopping alcohol consumption? I sure don’t hear them screaming out, making public announcements against liquor companies or establishments or off-sale liquor stores. Why not? If there is a scourge on society as a whole today, it most definitely is alcohol. Ahhh, but “everyone” likes a glass of wine or a beer now and again, right? Yes, pretty much, and that includes me about once or twice a year. Did you know that back in the 70’s, the Council on Alcohol Addiction and Rehabilitation, in conjunction with Alcoholics Anonymous, figured that every person considered to be an alcoholic or to have an alcohol “problem” affected at least seven other people detrimentally in some way as parents, employers, friends, children, students or employee associates?

North Dakota has been listed among the top five states in the entire US for having the worst alcoholism rates in the country! But heaven forbid anyone should touch the sacred cow! Well, all you readers who feel tobacco use should be banned everywhere and want everyone to wear seatbelts, consider this:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 33,808 people died in traffic crashes in 2009 in the United States (latest figures available), including an estimated 10,839 people who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Drunk driving fatalities accounted for 32% of all traffic deaths last year; that is, on average someone is killed in an alcohol-impaired driving crash about every 50 minutes in the U.S. (Source: NHTSA/FARS, 2010)

In 2008, 12 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were young drivers age 15 to 20 years old. More specifically, 5,864 15- to 20-year old drivers were involved in fatal crashes, including 2,739 driver fatalities. Among 15- to 20-year old drivers involved in fatal crashes, 31% of the drivers who were killed had been drinking, and 25% who were killed in crashes had a BAC of .08 or higher. Furthermore, nearly two percent of these young drivers involved in a fatal crash had a previous DWI conviction. (Source: NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts “Young Drivers,” 2009).

Yet no one I’m aware of, aside from MADD, is doing very much to discourage drinking and driving, especially among teenagers. Not even the courts. Not really. If they were really serious about getting drinking drivers off the road, they’d be yanking drivers’ licenses for a minimum of a year for the very first DUI/DWI. They do it in other countries, why not in the United States?

It is not just a ‘health’ issue, as so many seem to want to make it. If health were truly the issue, the government would be mandating alcohol establishments be closed and have chips implanted in us monitoring how often we go to fast food restaurants selling butter-bacon burgers, super salted French Fries and 16 ounce milk shakes! Or, mandating colonoscopies for everyone over age 50, or divorcing couples must attend “X” number of marriage/parenting counseling sessions before their wish to part ways is allowed. These are decisions that all free-thinking individuals should be able to make for themselves without interference of any kind from our government. If smoking makes you sick, it’s really simple—don’t go where smoking is allowed. As for seatbelt use— there are 33 other countries that mandate seatbelt use and have since the 1970’s. So why has it taken the US so long to come around to it—and even at that, we’re still doing it state by state, not as a Federal law? Because Americans are very resistant to governmental mandates on what should be personal decisions that do not immediately affect another person’s “risk.” It’s the same reason many states have no mandated motorcycle helmet laws, or why no one is forced to have flu shots, or to get checked for HIV or take abuse from employers or go into professions we may be brain geared for, but choose another path, or live anywhere we do not want to. Each and every day we all face and make personal decisions that may not work for someone else or are not necessarily the best decisions regarding our safety or lives. But we know it will be ourselves who “pay the price” for the mistakes we make as well as for the good decisions we make. When making 99 percent of these decisions we never concern ourselves whether the local, state or federal government is going to crawl into our pockets and ticket us or stop us “for our own sake.” For good reason.

Each encroachment, we lose –even if it’s just a smidgen- of who we are and why we have always been the greatest country on the planet.

Free will. That is the bedrock of America.

 

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