Saturday, January 25, 2020

Facts

A fact is a thing that is know or proven to be true. However, people can disagree on facts. This can be for three reasons:


  1. Legitimate disagreement - sometimes one person may believe the evidence is strong enough for something to be called a fact, whereas others are more cautions. For example, some scientists accepted as a fact the existence of black holes before others.  
  2. Lack of information - If a receiver in a football game makes an amazing catch right on the out-of-bounds line one person may state he was in while another states he was out. However if, for example, the replay clearly shows he was out now both side will, or at least should, conclude he was out.  
  3. Partisanship - in this case facts do not matter. A person will state, and sometimes actually believe through self-delusion, that their opinion or desire is correct no matter what the facts are. 
In the book Killers of the Flower Moon, there is murder that was ruled to be a suicide. The victim, a member of the Osage people, was shot from behind in a manner that made it impossible that it was self-inflicted. Yet, the corner ruled it to be a suicide and law enforcement agreed. Facts in this case did not matter as the coroner, law enforcement and the government were all in cahoots to steal as much money from the Osage as possible. Committing homicide was just a tool for them. 

In my case, the evidence against Nelly Wince could not be more factual.  It cannot be legitimately refuted. It was ignored by Judge Mearly and the Lawyers Office of Professional Responsibility. The county attorney's office stated that the evidence did not matter because there is no law in Minnesota against lawyers lying and the term "fraud upon the court" does not exist in Minnesota statures. Both statements are clearly, even obviously, false. Why do all these people ignore or deny the facts? Same as with Killers of the Flower Moon. Money. A just family law system doesn't generate nearly as much money for those in the divorce industry as an unjust one.  And although those involved are not as likely to commit murder directly, they are responsible for far more murders and deaths than the perpetrators of crimes in Killers of the Flower Moon. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Bombshell

Recently I was in a hotel on a business trip in which S joined me. The TV was on playing Bombshell. The story depicts the sexual intimidation of Fox reporter Gretchen Carlson and others by Fox News chief Roger Ailes.  The intimidation included unwanted touching and asking the women to twirl so he could leer at their figures.

I could not watch the movie. Not because I do not sympathize with the women or because I believe Ailes is anything but a depraved sick person. I could not watch it for relative reasons.

Let me explain. Imagine you are walking down the street with a friend when a mugger appears. Your friend is punched in the arm and you are shot in the stomach and knee. The mugger flees and and crowd gathers around your friend offering sympathy and help. No one pays any attention to you. An ambulance quickly arrives, the paramedics jump out and assist your friend who is then taken to the hospital. You are left alone on the street. You drag yourself home, stitch your wounds and go back to work the next day. The knee injury makes you a cripple for the rest of your life. In the ensuing weeks, the media is all over what happened to your friend. Lawyers line up to help and eventually your friend receives millions in compensation. Everyone talks about how awful the experience was for your friend.  If you ever ask, What about me?" they say you just need to get over it and accept what happened.

That may sound unrealistic but how different is it from my experience? Not much.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Women Warriors

Probably the most prevalent sexist notion is that women are not fighters. Up until recently women were excluded by the draft and the only reason that changed is because a men's rights group sued to have it changed on the grounds of that it was discriminatory. Women's organizations lost forever a golden opportunity to show they believe in equality and not just putting women on top.

The idea that women cannot fight and should not be soldiers is patently ridiculous. Often is is said that women because they bear children should not be in the military. Well no one is arguing that women who are pregnant should be on the front line but likewise no one is arguing then men, who experience 70-89% of all sudden heart attacks, should be sent into battle while having a coronary. 

It is also argued the men are more fit for the military because they are on average physical stronger. Yet is is also true that women on average have greater physical endurance than men and endurance is probably a greater benefit in the military than raw strength. But the key phrase "on average" negates the whole argument as the average person does not join the military.

Historically there have been many women warriors. The Scythian culture was probably the best know given that even Plato knew and wrote about it. But my guess is that women fought far more than most people assume in ancient times. Our modern sexist ideas make any such evidence of women warriors easily dismissed as a one off (I'm looking at you Joan of Ark!) or simply ignored.

Nearly all combat death is the United States have been men. There is one shelter for battered men in the country vs. thousands for women despite the evidence that women are just as violent in relationships as men. Sexism hurts men just as much if not more than it hurts women.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Reality of Lifetime Alimony

From Oregon Alimony Reform comes real stories of the reality of lifetime alimony.

People always seem to underestimate just how unjust and unfair alimony awards are. Indeed in all but extreme circumstances, alimony is pretty sexist given that it is the man who pays 97+% of the time. Often the argument is that the woman stayed at home and raised the kids so therefore deserves alimony for her sacrifice. Firstly, that is in many cases like mine, simply not true. Secondly, why should a person continue to receive money post marriage for a career choice made during the marriage? Thirdly, if the court wants to reward a person for having less income during the marriage why do they not account for that at the time of the divorce?  Or does the court believe that women are unable to handle money so they need an income stream from a man rather than be responsible for a lump sum? Alternatively, maybe it isn't sexist at all. Maybe they court just wants to make sure that divorce stretches out as long as possible to maximize the amount of money flowing to the lawyers. I don't know which is worse.

It is hard not to be cynical.

One person on the Oregon Alimony Reform site wrote:
I was divorced in 2008 and we split our retirement funds 50/50, yet I have to pay indefinite alimony. I just don’t get it. When I retire I will probably have $2000/month from Social Security and $2000/month from my retirement fund. My ex-wife will probably be in the same situation. So I give her $2050/month and she has $6050/month total and I have $1950. Where is the fairness in that?
My wife ran a successful software consultancy business for several years, but just before we divorced she re-trained as a teacher. Our earning capacities are similar, but I have to pay to “support her in the lifestyle to which she is accustomed”, even though her full time income is sufficient for her to live a comfortable lifestyle and she could easily earn significantly more that she is earning today.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Marriage Story

Netflix's Marriage Story is reportedly a pretty good description of the divorce process. I have not seen the movie and to be honest I am not sure I will. Watching these types of things is usually too painful, especially when, as it appears from the reviews of the movie, the criminality of the system is underrepresented. That's right underrepresented. Movies often exaggerate but when it comes to crime in family court, even Hollywood can't bring itself to fully depict just how bad it really is.

There is a thin line between uncontested and highly contested divorce and unfortunately that line gets crossed too many times and too quickly.



Sunday, December 22, 2019

Parole Reform

I had one of those Coen brothers strange moments the other day listening to the radio when I heard a segment on parole reform in Minnesota.  Specifically, the movement to place a cap of five years on parole for any offence other than homicide and sexual crimes.

The reason? The current system is too arbitrary. How many months of probation someone receives for the same crime varies from judge to judge and district to district. For example, average probation is, "3.3 years in Hennepin County, but 5.9 years in Ramsey County".

So why did this give me a Coen brothers moment? Certainly not because I disagree that arbitrary parole lengths are unfair and need to be corrected.  What gave me a surreal sinking feeling is that parole reform is such a popular cause compared to alimony reform.  Very few seem concerned with the fact that alimony awards are several orders of magnitude more arbitrary that parole. Alimony can range from zero to life for the exact same situation. And the person paying not only didn't commit a crime but often, like in my case, is the victim of crime. There is no consistency whatsoever and unlike parole where a person simply needs to check in with a parole officer every once in a while, alimony requires that a person work for the benefit of another.

I have to pay a massive amount of money every month until the day I die to a person who left me, never used a dime of her income for the children, was not the primary parent during the marriage, is perfectly able to make as much money as me (as was determined the vocational evaluation), was not awarded custody of the children post-divorce and who clearly committed crimes against me. I can never retire no remarry as that that would risk my new wife having to pay alimony to my ex-wife should I become disabled. The insanity of it is mind boggling.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Rise Of Single And What To Do About It

Viki Larson wrote an interesting article in Aeon titled, "Marriage should not come with any social benefits or privileges" in which she discusses the rise of the single person and how unfair marriage laws are for them.
Spouses in the US can pass on Medicare, as well as Social Security, disability, veterans and military benefits. They can get health insurance through a spouse’s employer; receive discounted rates for homeowners’, auto and other types of insurance; make medical decisions for each other as well as funeral arrangements; and take family leave to care for an ill spouse, or bereavement leave if a spouse dies.
Her solution is to, "give singles the same perks and protections to which married couples are privy".

I more or less agree with Larson but I would phrase it differently - we need to remove marriage from government control. Marriage should be a religious rite or commitment between two (or more for that matter) people not a government controlled and regulated arrangement.

Medicare, social security, disability, veterans, and military benefits should all go to the person earning the benefit. Why would a spouse or anyone else deserve it?  Now you might say what about a stay at home spouse? What of it? That spouse can be paid a wage by the working spouse and earn social security benefits or not as they desire. The effect this would have would be to eliminate the gender gap in employment, wages and which spouse stays at home.  This in turn would eliminate the gender gap in business and political leadership. That is not a bad thing.

As for who makes funeral arrangements, discounts for auto and homeowner insurance, and such single people and non-married couples living together already deal with these effectively.

Health insurance is the biggest problem. However, private companies have already led the way. Long before anyone thought we would ever have same sex marriage my company provided partner insurance to people co-habituating regardless of sex or marital status. The biggest discrimination with health care is that children are included. Childless people in effect subsidize those with children. The only way to fix this would be universal health care which will eventually come.

Eliminating marriage from the law would not only have a huge and positive impact on the economy but would greatly reduce gender inequality as well.