Saturday, November 15, 2008

The single mother industry

Last Sunday I discussed the subject of the elections in Puerto Rico and how these elections could signify a change in the state policies regarding family laws, a change towards laws that simultaneously protect children and treat fathers fairly.

I ask to my non-Puerto Rican readers a little bit of patience while I go back to my country to discuss a problem that I believe is not exclusive of Puerto Rico, since it has multiple more subtle incarnations in many other places.

In many contemporary societies single mothers have become a sacred object, something untouchable that cannot be questioned, because the universal consensus, sponsored by the political correctness tyranny, sustains that single mothers are a kind of social martyrs that we all have to pity and feel compelled to help and sustain economically. This notion is being spread by mass media, even though is evident that the proliferation of single mother is more than anything a symptom of a social disease, the dissolution of the family nucleus, which in turn creates a long sequence of other social evils: children raised without a father figure, children that due to this condition have more propensity to criminal behavior, depression, promiscuity, etc. (Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, authors of Freakonomics, propose that the drastic reduction of criminality in the United States after Roe versus Wade was due precisely to Roe versus Wade, because this decision reduced dramatically the amount of children raised by single mothers, children that, as many studies have shown, have twice the probabilities of becoming criminals than children raised by both parents.)

Puerto Rico is an extreme case of this canonization of the single mother and of the conversion of this canonization into an industry. Many women have discovered an easy way to earn a living: have children and live of child support. And I am not talking about that women who has had to divorce and who now struggles to rebuild her life and who receives child support to help her raise her children. I talk about those women that in Puerto Rico live of their motherhood, because the child support that they get is being used to support them and not their children, or even worst, because, because they are serial mothers who have children of different men in order to live solely of the child support checks that they get from those men.

The present laws of child support pervert the whole process of supporting economically our children, polluting it from its base. The present situation is supported by three equally pernicious legs:

First, the absolute disproportion between the obligations of both parties, demanding from one (the father) much larger money amounts than the ones required to the other (the mother). The disproportion is such and the load is so onerous for fathers that most times it is far beyond their real possibilities and ends up taking many of them to bankruptcy, many of them to jail, some of them to suicide, and blocks the possibilities of rebuilding their lives after divorce. To add insult, the other party can even stay without a job, because the State does not believe that it has to help with the financial burden of raising their own children.

Second, the absolute lack of controls that ensure that the child support money will be used for child support. I know of a case on which a father calls ASUME, the government agency that is in charge of managing child support, to denounce that one of his child support checks had been cashed in a San Juan casino, just to be told that his responsibility was to pay child support, and once it was in his ex-wife hands, she could use it as she wanted to. Now, give me a reason to pay child support. While the government does not enforce mechanisms that ensure that the money paid for the children is being used in the children, child support Hill remain being used by unscrupulous mothers as a means to earn a living.

And third and most important and revealing, the outbreak of single mothers in Puerto Rico is the direct result of the discriminatory policy of family courts, which award women child custody in the almost entirety of cases. Like in the urban legends on which a villain amputates the legs of a child to force him to beg for money in the streets, in Puerto Rico the State denies joint child custody to the fathers and then and ask the people to feel pity for the women who have to raise their children by themselves. There is no better example of an ill-intentioned social consciousness.

The single mother, as it is conceived in the Puerto Rican social discourse, is a political creation that has the purpose of creating a group of voters loyal to the political part that protects its privileges, no matter that in order to do so the rights of a great part of the population, children and fathers, have to be sacrificed.

I say something that because everyone knows, nobody says, but it is worth to be brought to this discussion: politicians do not look for the good of their countries, but for their own perpetuation in power. Because women are the majority of the Puerto Rican electorate, politicians have not taken the risk of losing the votes of this sector, and have turned it into a privileged sector, exempting it from the duties that are demanded from the others, in this case, of financially supporting their own children. Ask yourself: When was the last time that you heard of mother going to jail for not paying child support? Never? I thought so.

The insufferable passivity and cowardice of men have been the fundamental vehicles for this situation to reach this point. Without them, the present state of family laws would be unsustainable. It is time for this to change.

Our children are waiting.

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