Sunday, November 10, 2019

Another Gender Barrier in the Military Crumbles

The military has always been one of the most discriminatory professions when it comes to gender. Until recently women were barred from many positions but that has now changed. Which is great but I expect it will take some time before 50% of combat soldiers are women.

The irony of discrimination in the military is that it negatively affects both men and women. Women because they have been historically barred from many roles and men because they are the vast majority of casualties. Equality will happen when 50% of soldiers are women and 50% of deaths are too.

In a somewhat amusing minor note of progress on this road to equality, male marines can now carry umbrellas while wearing their service and dress uniforms. Female marines had already been allowed to.

The new umbrella rule has, believe it or not, caused a lot of controversy. Marine Colonel Mark Caballero stated, "Change is tough, and the idea of seeing young Marines walking around with an umbrella just doesn't fit my ideal of what a Marine ought to look like."

A generation ago a black man didn't fit what many marines thought a marine should look like.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Erasing Family - A Film By Ginger Gentile

Family court hurts people. Men, women and children. Why? Because of money. Money for irresponsible parents, money for lawyers, money for judges, and money for all the other business such as counselors, mediators, testimony coaches and others who make more money when more people are hurt. Not that everyone is bad, far from it, but the system is set up to reward the unethical and criminal not the responsible and good.

The pain inflicted on children is highlighted in the film Erasing Family by Ginger Gentile.

An interview with Ms. Gentile can be found on Dad's Talk.

Although I have zero contact with Spring, that was her choice. She tried to take the kids away from me, even petitioned the court to prevent me from seeing them at all. But it backfired on her. Without me even discussing it much with the kids, they quickly ended up living with me more and more. Now they only see their mother occasionally. You might think this makes me feel good but it hurts me immensely. The damage done to my kids is immense. Emotionally and financially. What is it like to your own mother treat you as a tool to criminally take as much money from your father as possible?  Erasing Family delves into this very issue.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Another Try In Florida

For years Florida has been trying to pass alimony reform into law. Several times a bill has made it through the legislature only to have it vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. A new effort is now underway.
On Thursday Boca Raton marital and family law attorney Alan Elkins, speaking for Florida Family Fairness, which annually spearheads alimony reform pushes, denounced permanent alimony as unfair, charging it creates a “culture of dependence” for those receiving it and a “life sentence” for payers. He contended that Florida’s guidelines are so broadly interpreted by individual judges that the questions of how much alimony should be paid, and for how long, vary tremendously from judge to judge, even within any given judicial circuit, and shouldn’t and needn’t do so.
Reform is being fought by a group of divorce lawyers which is unsurprising because anything that reduces inequity and pain in family court is certainly not in their financial interest.

Disappointingly The National Organization of Women (NOW), which once advocated agaisnt alimony as it perpetuated the view that women are inferior to men, is now advocating against any alimony reform. 

Although about 98% of alimony is paid by the man it is often the case there their second spouses pay alimony because legally once married they are obligated as well. I cannot marry the woman I am with because of this. If I became disabled or ended up with Alzheimer's, my new spouse would be required to pay alimony to Spring even through Spring left me, was not the primary care giver for the children and has never used a dime of her income for the children despite the employment evaluator stated she is able to make just as much money as me. Yes, that is how unfair it is.

There are a few case where alimony is paid for by women. One is cited in the article.
Alicia del Rey of Marion County, also representing Florida Family Fairness, turned traditional gender roles upside down when she spoke of how she’s being forced to pay permanent alimony to a man whom she said was an abusive and irresponsible husband who “squandered our assets” and has never been able to hold a job.
“I would have never imagined that I would be paying permanent alimony to my abuser ex-husband and be forced to pay him for the rest of my life,” she said, recalling how in 2011 she finally got the courage, after 30 years of marriage, to seek divorce. “Thus far I have paid this man over $41,000, the money I need to pay my mortgage, plan for retirement and fund my goal to go back to graduate school to provide a better life for myself and my family.”
“The most discouraging part is there is no end in sight, and I have no path that allows me to free this abusive ex-husband,” del Rey said.
I can only hope such stories will encourage those who oppose alimony reform to realize that the purpose of reform is to advance equality and justice for all regardless of gender.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Why No Equity?

Stephen Frenz, a longtime Minneapolis landlord, has been convicted of perjury. It is unusual for someone to be convicted of perjury but Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman stated, "He lied to the court and he abused the system and he was hurting a lot of people, and he has hurt a lot of people."

Compare this to my case. My ex-wife Spring certainly committed perjury but I have no illusions she would ever be convicted.  Her lawyer, Nelly Wince, lied numerous times both in court and in writing but none of it was sworn testimony so there isn't even an opportunity for a perjury conviction.

But I have never imagined that either Spring or Ms. Wince would ever be convicted of perjury. In fact, in Spring's case, the best I can hope for is for an end to alimony and the return of monies obtained criminally.

For Nelly Wince, the matter is different. She committed fraud. Specifically fraud upon the court as she lied to the court. Fraud upon the court is so serious that there is no statute of limitations on it in Minnesota. I have the evidence. I should by all rights be able to sue her to recover my losses as well as punitive damages.  This, as far as I can determine, happens even less often then convictions for perjury. Maybe it is time for this to change. Family law attorneys should not be above the law.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Why People Commit Suicide

If you ask most people why a person would commit suicide, they will typically assume depression or other mental health problems. The reality is far more complicated.
Around 43 percent of the variability in suicidal behavior among the general population can be explained by genetics...while the remaining 57 percent is attributable to environmental factors.
One cause of suicide often ignored or at least overlooked is self-sacrifice. The classic example is the proverbial story of a soldier jumping on a grenade in a foxhole to save his squad. Another is the suffragettes in both the United States and the United Kingdom who starved themselves to death in protest of their lack of voting rights. Or the IRA members who died on hunger strikes to protest Margaret Thatcher's decision to incarcerate them as criminals rather than prisoners of war. The iron lady relented. 

A more recent example is that of Tunisian  Mohamed Bouazizi  who set himself on fire to protest police corruption. His act of self-immolation was the spark the ignited the Arab Spring.

We do not know how many people who commit suicide do so out of self-sacrifice. It would be difficult to determine and there are no studies on the matter. My guess, however, is that is is far greater than most people assume.

Suicide is often not so much a call for help as it is a call for justice.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Reverse The Genders

Using my "is it sexist if you reverse the genders" test,  take a look at this card I ran across being sold at a store:


Imagine the outrage if the the picture was of a king and the phrase was something like, "God created Man, Women were an afterthought". This would be rightly viewed as highly sexist. So why is the above funny?

Even more pernicious is when violence by women is viewed as humorous. For a striking (pun intended) example take a look at this commercial for Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt from the 2012 Super Bowl.


Most people think it is funny. What if it were the woman teasing the man and he gave her black eye? That would result in a strong boycott agaisnt Dannon and legal action against the company in many countries.

We have a long way to go before we achieve gender equality.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

NPO 2019 Shared Parenting Report Card

The National Parents Organization, which advocates for shared parenting, has released their 2019 Shared Parenting Report Card.

Minnesota ranks fairly high, although their ranking has gone down a bit from last year. In my case, Spring fought tooth and nail for sole custody, even though, I believe, she knew and desired that I be the primary parent.  So then why did she fight so hard for custody? Two reasons that I can see. The first is that she believed, quite correctly, that she would get more money out of me if were were awarded it. Money seems to have been the driving factor of a lot of her actions. But the second one is more psychological. She believed that it would make her look better to her and her family. After all, she left me. If the court had awarded me sole custody that would have raised a lot of questions.

I suspect the reason Minnesota ranks so high is that, unlike with alimony, we have a formula for child support. Like splitting assets earned by either spouse earned during the marriage when divorcing, it isn't necessarily fair but it is know and hence less prone to corruption.

From the NPO report:
Extensive research going back more than a quarter century has found that the 35% of children in fatherless or single parent families not only fare worse in terms of psychological and emotional well-being, physical and mental health, labor market and wealth accumulation outcomes, but are more prone to social pathologies such as child abuse, crime and substance abuse.

These children represent:
• 63% of teen suicides;• 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;• 71% of high school dropouts;• 75% of children in chemical abuse centers; 
The societal cost of fatherlessness and single-parent families has been conservatively estimated at $100 billion annually.