Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Federal agents in 29 states arrested dozens of fathers who owe millions in child support. Government officials described this as a significant expansion of the federal role in enforcing child support laws and court orders. The story mentions “Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives have united to toughen the law on child support for welfare recipients and more affluent parents.”

Let’s take a closer look at one of the examples in the news story: An “Oklahoma man, James A. Circle, says he earned more than $39,000 a year and had been ordered to pay $350 a week for a child in New Jersey.” $350 per week adds up to $18,200 per year. This “affluent” man is making only $39,000 per year, which after taxes is around $26,000 per year. This leaves approximately $8,000 per year for the man to live off, after he is forced to send $18,200 per year to New Jersey. Of course the mother need not work to support herself and the child whom she had 100% of the power to decide to have.

These support cases truly show government’s complete ignorance of economics. Not only do these child support laws provide a disincentive to marry or have children under wedlock, throwing people in jail for failure to pay child support is the best way to ensure there is no income from which to pay child support.