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.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Who Should Rule?

Who should rule, men or women? Anyone who doesn't say neither, or maybe both, is by definition sexist. I think it would be bizarre for anyone to actually believe that one sex is better than the other, but people do and some even brag about it. I accidentally ran across this product on Amazon:

I can only imagine the outrage if the wording was "Boys Rule The World", or "Whites Rule The World". But like violence committed by women against men, such sexism is tolerated and often encouraged. 

People often forget that the goal is justice and equality for all.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Male Privilege

After my last post on female privilege I thought I would follow-up with a post on male privilege.  Why? Because I do not like any gender based privilege. However, in searching for information on male privilege most of what I get is either examples of female privilege or general complaints about men. (an exception is in India where there are a lot of real examples of male privilege but as this site is focused on the United States I am excluding those)

By general comments I mean things such as women complaining that men view women as "sex objects".  Yes that is bad. But I don't think women are immune to viewing men as sex objects. Once I hired an intern at work for the summer. A female employee of mine, who was over twice his age, said he was hot and I should hire more. There is zero chance a male employee would have ever told me the same thing about any of the female interns I hired no matter how attractive she was. I have also on more that one occasion had coworkers grab my buttocks or put their arms around me in a suggestive manner. If a male had done that to a woman he would be fired.

Probably the most common cited example of male privilege is that men make more money than women. But if you adjust for equal work and equal hours this tends to disappear. And I would argue that the fact that men work harder and at more dangerous jobs, not to mention the fact that women control more money than men, is an example of female privilege not male privilege.

The other example often cited is we live in a "rape culture" and than women are subject to violence by men. Well first off men and women are equally likely to initiate violence in a relationship. Second I have never agreed with the notion that women are the weaker sex. Sure on average men are stronger then women. Just like on average tall men are stronger than shorter men. But the reality is that physical fitness and training can more than make up for those differences. And in some ways women have an advantage because our society condemns a man who commits violence against a woman (rightly so) but not the reverse.

All gender/race/ethnic origin/religion/sexual orientation is bad. I am all for pointing out male privilege but, lest we be disingenuous, we need to also point out female privilege.