Friday, April 18, 2008

What's wrong with this article? -- Marriage and Taxes, Part 2

By LindaBeth

Especially in light of my critique of "marriage"-centric social organization, check out this article from

"Study: Single parents cost taxpayers $112 billion":

Divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing cost U.S. taxpayers more than $112 billion a year, according to a study commissioned by four groups advocating more government action to bolster marriages.

Hmmm... what's wrong with this so far? (hint: it's something to do with the premise of the article)

Ok, I'll tell you.

    It implies that divorcees and parents who are unmarried are not "taxpayers."

    Thus, it positions those not divorced or single parents -- married people, single people (aka: not yet married), and married parents -- as the "ideal taxpayer-citizen."
And that's just the first paragraph.


Sponsors say the study is the first of its kind and hope it will prompt lawmakers to invest more money in programs aimed at strengthening marriages.

Could it possibly be that our social and economic structures heavily favor married parenting, and that's what needs to be investigated, rather than "strengthening marriage"?

Two experts not connected to the study said such programs are of dubious merit and suggested that other investments -- notably job creation -- would be more effective in aiding all types of needy families.

Which is good, especially since I heard on NPR recently (I can't find the show reference! aah!) that divorce and income are correlated (and ya know, "the sanctity of marriage," etc. is of utmost important to preserving "traditional" -- read: patriarchal capitalist -- values).

There's more:

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.

Right, because there's a natural connection between single mothering and poverty, apparently, so we need to fix the "single mothering" rather than, say, the "feminization of poverty" or the socio-economic structure that perpetuates single-parent (mother) poverty.

See, there are two problems here with our socio-economic structure:

    The assumption of two parents present and sharing a home. The model used to be male breadwinner/female domestic servant. Now, women are 'allowed' to have economic independence but continue to bear the homemaking burden.

    Women are paid less money, plain and simple.
So in a single-parent family where that single parent is a woman, she's doubly screwed economically.

At the end of the day, the article -- along with the study and those who commissioned it -- assumes the natural and neutral center of American life (ought) to be marriage and specifically, married-parenting. Further, they conclude that we should tell people how they should structure their networks of association in their life because it would cost less in government expenditures and because they are deviating from some sort of arbitrary "normal." Sure marriage is the norm in American society; that doesn't make it natural. It's still an arbitrary primary structure of social relations.

Sure sounds like life, liberty, and all that jazz to me!

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  • I feel that the article was very discriminating, and sexist. I don't feel that in every case marriage is the best for everyone. In some cases the kids are happier and healthier after the divorce. As for Single Females being the key source that 112 billion. I know married couples that are on the system. I even know married couples that abuse the system. There are even single people that have been given assistance. So why is it that single female parents are being singled out. Do they not realize that not every single mother in America wants to be on the sytem. I have 2 beautiful children and because the system isn't tough enough on dead beats my ex doesn't even pay the court ordered amount of $356. Peanuts. For God sakes what is $356 going to do? I guess I will probably never know so I probably won't ever see it. Ok I could maybe find a different job making more money right. Unfortunately I've actually been turned down by jobs because I'm single, other jobs require you to work hours outside of daycare hours. So now what? It's a no win situation. Find me a great paying job that will work with my daycare hours and I'll be glad to get off of assistance. For now I'm forced to do the best with what I have in front of me. As for those in jail. Well they cost money for tax payers to. Make them work. Find them work where they can't be a threat and put them to work so that their babies will be taken care of. Most of them are probably there because they don't want to pay anyways. Make the system tougher to be misused, and be tougher on those that do misuse. Stop pointing fingers at a select group. Plenty of men are out there raising kids by themselves to. Personanlly if some men would be men. We wouldn't be where we are.

    By Blogger Phia28, at 6:18 PM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:49 PM  

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