Sunday, January 13, 2019

Life Sentence - Florida's Alimony Problem Documentary

Florida has been trying for years to reform alimony. Twice bills have passed the legislature only to be vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. The all volunteer Florida Family Law Reform PAC has released a new video detailing the dire need for reform. It is well worth a watching. 

Life Sentence - Florida's Alimony Problem Documentary


As an extra bonus, at a manager conference last week we were shown the following video which is actually an ad for a Danish television station. It is possibly the best best diversity training you will ever have. Like many people from work, I have shared it with my kids.


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Equality Is Good And It Is Good For Everyone

In discussing the movie RBG, which I wrote about in my last post,  I am always surprised and a little disappointed how many people define equality as better for them rather than better for everyone. Equality is not a zero sum issue. Equality helps everyone.

Many people view gender inequality as only hurting women. They seems unable or unwilling to admit that the very same inequality is the reason that only men are drafted, virtually all deaths in the military are men and nearly all alimony is paid for by men. That doesn't sound like such a good deal for men to me.  Or how about the classic line when a ship is sinking, you know it - women and children first. Are men's lives somehow less valuable than women's?

The benefits of equality actually go much deeper. Although I no longer have direct reports at work when I did, some of my best people were women. If the pool to select from was limited to only men, it would have negatively impacted my career because much of my success was dependent on the performance of the people I hired.

Equality is good and it is good for everyone.

Clearly there is discrimination against women. I would love to see half our politicians to be women and half of executives, indeed all workers, be women. I also want to see half of housework and child caring to be done by men. And I want to see half of yard work to be done by women. I want half of combat soldiers to be women. Currently half of new doctors are women which is great. But lets also see half of nurses be men. I want alimony to be paid by women half the time or better yet have it eliminated entirely as the whole basis of alimony is that women are unable to take care of themselves.

Expanding beyond gender I would like to see equality for all races and sexual orientation. Every profession should reflect the demographics of society.

The path to achieving equality and justice for all is not to solely focus on the impact of inequality for one group. It is to recognize that all inequality is unjust.

Monday, December 31, 2018

RBG

I saw the movie RBG yesterday on a flight. This prompted me to write up a mini-review which appears below. I also plan to send the review to both Justice Ginsburg and  NPR's Nina Totenberg who also appears in the film.

----------

RBG

I watched the movie RBG on long plane flight earlier this week. The movie is a documentary about the life and work of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was quite enjoyable, often funny, and at times touching. Yet it was marred by a few irritations and lost opportunities.

First off let me state that I am a fan of Justice Ginsburg. I do not believe I have ever disagreed with one of her rulings or dissents. The movie details her tireless efforts to promote equality. Mostly for women but in one case having to do with a widower suing social security to get the same benefits that a widow would have, for men as well.

Now for the irritations. The first and most grating is when Justice Ginsburg jokes, at least I hope she joked, that the correct number to women for the Supreme Court to have is nine. If true this would mean that Justice Ginsburg does not believe in equality but rather wants discrimination to favor women. I am confident she did not mean this but it is a very poor joke because it gives those who do not believe in equality a reason to dismiss out of hand all of Justice Ginsburg's efforts promoting equality. If it irritates me, a very socially liberal person, imagine the reaction of an ardent Trump supporter.

The second irritation is that Justice Ginsburg claims that discrimination invariably hurts women. The implication being that discrimination only benefits men.  This is a common yet mistaken view that in the end harms efforts to promotes equality. Let me explain.

When Justice Ginsburg went to law school, very few of her classmates were women. This was clearly discriminatory. Yet at the same time and even today, only men are drafted into the military (one of the few legal gender discriminations left) and upwards of 99% of all military combat deaths are men.  Only eight of the 58,300 U.S. soldier names who died in service written on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. are women.

I would love to see 50% of CEOs be women. But that will be near impossible to achieve unless 50% of combat deaths are women as well.

Alimony is another area where, although legally gender neutral, is in practice discriminatory as upwards of 98% of payors are men.  I have first hand knowledge of this. Despite the fact that my ex-wife left me, a custody evaluation determined that parenting during the marriage was joint, a vocational evaluation determined that she could make just as much money as me, joint custody after the marriage (although the kids predominantly lived with me) along with absolute evidence of major fraud by my ex-wife’s lawyer, I am burdened with paying massive alimony until the day I die. I can never retire nor remarry as that would burden my new wife with paying alimony to my ex-wife should I become disabled or otherwise unable to work. Furthermore, my ex-wife has never used a dime of her income for the children.

I would suggest that it is far less effective to advocate for equal opportunity for women than it is to advocate for equal opportunity and responsibility for all. Opportunity and responsibility are inseparable.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot

In a war, some generals are made for the moment whereas others reluctantly do their duty.  Yet their effectiveness seems to not be related to their natural inclination. George Patton was born to lead in battle and he did so brilliantly.  Another George and general,  George Washington, was a a reluctant general and leader yet no one would argue he was any less effective or brilliant than General Patton.

Family court reform is not something I have a natural interest in. There are many more interesting and more important causes I would rather focus my efforts on. Causes that will help ensure humanity is around in 100, 1000 and 10,00 years from now. In truth, the family court system is a sticking cesspool of corruption I would prefer to turn my back on.

Yet I cannot. I have offered Spring again to just end this mess and walk away with her spoils. She refused. Again. So now I am forced to not only try to recover monies lost to crimes committed against me but, hopefully, move the entire family judicial system in a more just direction.

I will have to overcome my nature. Although this road will be difficult, I know deep in my soul that it is the right thing to do. Because even if I move the judicial system a tiny bit to a more just place, it will help many, many innocent people. It will save lives. At what cost to me I cannot say. But I am not throwing away my shot.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Sometimes...

Sometimes it is hard to not feel bad for myself. I heard a story on NPR about teachers who participated in the federal TEACH program which offered teachers up to $4,000 a year to help pay for school if, in return, they agreed to teach a high-need subject, like math or science, in a lower-income school for four years.

If a teacher did not meticulously follow the often confusing and misleading rules their grant was turned into a loan. Some had grants of $20,000 turned into loans of $20,000. Many were shocked and devastated.

I get it. But there is also a part of me that thinks, "be thankful you aren't me." I lost two houses and hundreds of thousands of dollars of assets in the divorce. I have had to pay well over $100,000 in legal fees. I lose well over $30,000 per year in alimony due to clear criminal actions by Spring and her lawyer.  And this will go on until I die. Not to mention that I was solely responsible for raising my kids.

When I hear people complain that their ex does not provide enough help for the kids, I get a sinking feeling way down in my gut. It would have been 1000 times easier if Spring had just left. But instead she decided to take and steal as much as she possibly could. No action was too heinous for her. No crime too great for her to commit to gain more money.

This is not a good way to feel. But I know deep down that a person with cancer might feel the same way about my complaints. There is a certain relativity. And it is good to remember that. Because if I did not know that, did not really understand that, I very much doubt I would be alive today.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Family Court - the Source of the Corruption

I ran across a great video on corruption in family court.



Mostly it discusses corruption as related to child support. Thankfully this is one area that Minnesota has reformed. Unfortunately, the corrupt practices simple moved to alimony. 

For child support, Minnesota has a formula that in essence is skewed to the benefit of the child. It can be unfair as often one parent is unwilling to work responsibly or hides their true income by working off-books but I do not have an issue with that. It isn't the child fault they have an unethical parent after all.  The interests of the child overrides fairness for the parents. Which is unfortunate but there is really no other way as trying to determine a fair solution would not only be difficult as people would lie and commit fraud but incredibly costly. You know like trying to determine alimony. 

If Minnesota would reform alimony like they have child support the crime, cost and pain it causes would be reduced by an order of magnitude. 

The other thing I love about the video is that is contains scenes from Les Misérables, one of my favorite books and plays. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Cohen vs. Wince

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, committed a lot of crimes for Trump over the years, as he has now admitted. Nelly Wince, Spring's former lawyer, clearly and without question committed crimes for Spring.

Michael Cohen's crimes were done for power and money. He claims they were meant to protect Trump. Nelly Wince's crimes were likewise done for power and money.

Michael Cohen's crimes are just one part of a much wider web of corruption. Nelly Wince's  crimes are just one part of a much wider web of corruption.

Michael Cohen will likely get a reduced sentence for cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation but will almost certainly serve time in jail.  Let's hope Nelly Wince will someday pay for her crimes as well. 

Although you might think Michael Cohen's crimes to be greater evil because they involved the highest levels of our government, consider that the consequences of Nelly Wince's crimes for both the county as a whole and the individuals in it are far worse. A corrupt legal system destroys the very foundation of justice in our society. It destroys even the hope for justice.