There have been previous attempts to calculate the cost of divorce in America. But the sponsors of the new study, being released Tuesday, said theirs is the first to gauge the broader cost of ”family fragmentation” — both divorce and unwed childbearing.
The study was conducted by Georgia State University economist Ben Scafidi. His work was sponsored by four groups who consider themselves part of a nationwide ”marriage movement” — the New York-based Institute for American Values, the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, Families Northwest of Redmond, Wash., and the Georgia Family Council, an ally of the conservative ministry Focus on the Family.
”The study documents for the first time that divorce and unwed childbearing — besides being bad for children — are costing taxpayers a ton of money,” said David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values.
”We keep hearing this from state legislators, ‘Explain to me why this is any of my business? Aren’t these private matters?”’ Blankenhorn said. ”Take a look at these numbers and tell us if you still have any doubt.”
Scafidi’s calculations were based on the assumption that households headed by a single female have relatively high poverty rates, leading to higher spending on welfare, health care, criminal justice and education for those raised in the disadvantaged homes. The $112 billion estimate includes the cost of federal, state and local government programs, and lost tax revenue at all levels of government.
Wait, an assumption? That can’t be right, can it — that they based a study on prejudice and stereotypes rather than facts? *Rechecks who funded study* Oh.
Hey folks, you want to know what doesn’t cost society a damn dime? Domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive gambling, kids growing up in a house with two parents who hate each other, kids growing up in a house with parents who are always angry and bitter, depression, stress-induced/agitated health conditions, and a general understanding that people can’t expect or deserve happiness. Why not go back to the good old days?!
By the way, the Iraq war is apparently costing us $435 million each day. And those who are so interested in the high cost of health care, criminal justice, welfare, and education (strangely enough, because I don’t know in what world they think the government pays more money to educate poor children than middle-class children) that is supposedly caused by unwed parenting really should be interested in knowing what $435 million could do:
– Enroll 58,000 children in Head Start.
– Put 8,900 police officers on the street.
– Provide health insurance to 329,200 low-income children.
– Hire 10,700 Border Patrol agents.
– Give Pell Grants to 163,700 college students.
– Provide foreclosure prevention counseling to 260,000 families.
Hmm . . . it seems that most of those suggestions have direct ties to the concerns over the cost of unwed parenting! It’s almost as if ending the war could not only address the above concerns, but also save us some money! I bet that those who are worried about that economic impact are out there protesting the war right now, asking the tough questions about why the hell we’re there, what exactly our exit plan is and what it will take for us to stop sinking billions into a money pit that we never should have started, right?
Of course they’re fucking not. They’re not concerned that society can’t carry the financial burden that they’ve clearly fabricated with numbers pulled straight out of their asses — they don’t want to pay it. If “unwed parenting” cost us only $20 a year, it’d be too much for them. And I don’t think I really even need to get into how the people who are up in arms about the cost of poor children, who just must be born to unwed mothers, are the same lot who support forced birth and call the women who say they can’t afford (another) child “selfish.” Or suggest that they surrender the child they’d rather not give birth to — because foster care and the likely resulting mental health problems for mothers don’t cost taxpayers anything, either.
Who the hell they think they’re going to fool with this “it’s a financial concern” song and dance? They couldn’t give a shit less about the money, which they’re totally okay with being used to invade foreign countries and kill brown people, they’re just looking for another way to frame their “women have uteruses, so women don’t deserve rights” message. Like these groups — very similar to those who payed for this “study” — that wants to outlaw no fault divorce!
Marriage Savers’ organizational work seems to have focused, in the past, on encouraging religious communities to adopt its Community Marriage Policies to make divorce and unmarried cohabitation less acceptable in their congregations, as well as establishing marriage counseling, couple-to-couple mentoring programs, and pre-marital classes for congregants in local churches and synagogues. But with its new Reform Divorce site, it intends to lobby for two new radically conservative divorce provisions: 1.) a “Mutual Consent” divorce law that would do away with the relatively painless divorces couples can attain without charging the other spouse with wrongdoing, and 2.) a “Shared Parenting” clause, which would shift custody arrangements for children of divorced parents to require parents to share parenting time for a third of every week. With these two reforms, McManus’s fellow Divorce Reform advocates estimate they could suppress the divorce rate by 50%.
Another group, Reform Divorce, has this actual text on their website:
A father can lose his family, his home, access to his children and pay high child support. “Anyone who gets married has to worry about losing everything in a divorce,” asserts John Crouch, Director of Americans for Divorce Reform. Perhaps 50 million Americans in broken homes live under court orders, intrusively dictating terms of how each family is to live. No Fault allows one person to file on vague grounds of “incompatibility” even though the other spouse typically wants to save the marriage. The divorce is always granted. That universal outcome appears to violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that no person “be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” How can there be “due process” if every divorce is granted?
Now, out of “life, liberty or property,” which do you think this group feels men are being deprived of? I’ll give you one guess, and a hint: it’s not life or liberty.
Then there’s the Pope, who is currently paying our country a generous visit and who also opposes unwed parenting. Now I might be, oh, a few years late on this, but I just found out that in Ratzinger’s 2004 statement about how politicians who are pro-choice should not be able to receive communion, this little gem appeared:
“The church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion, even among Catholics, about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not, however, with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”
Wow. Just . . . damn.
I mean, it doesn’t really surprise me that a high-level Catholic (he was a Cardinal at the time) would find the outright, purposeful and conscious decision to take another person’s life less morally offensive than the decision to control one’s own body (yeah, I know . . . embryo, I mean baby = precious, innocent deserving life . . . Iraqi = who gives a shit?). But I have to say that the willingness to openly make such an argument impresses me. Brace yourself: I think that the Pope might be a Republican. Who would’ve guessed?
These folks are all on the same side and for the same reasons — and I don’t think that’s a huge secret. Also making the sale of this bullshit difficult is the fact that, oops, 45% of new mothers in the U.S. are not married.
But then again, when I’ve given the American people credit for being able to see through transparent wingnut ploys, I’ve usually been disappointed. So if you’re looking to get a divorce or have a child without being married, you might want to get on top of that. After all, we’re in an election year.