Saturday, June 25, 2011
I would be indifferent to this except for the one thing that keeps nagging me.
No, I don't have children.
What nags me is the possibility that one of the parties in a heterosexual marriage may become responsible to provide child support for a child the other party has with a totally unrelated third party.
Let's say Alice and Bob are married. Bob goes and has an affair with Clara which results in Clara getting pregnant. She gives birth to a wonderful boy named David. If I understand the legal stuff correctly, Alice cannot be held responsible for child support payments to Bob and Clara's son David, as things stand now, unless she takes the extra step of adopting David.
On the other hand, Bob cannot escape child support payments to David even though he is not married to Clara because he is David's father.
Now, say Edward and Frank get married. They cannot have children without a third party involved. In addition, they cannot simultaneously be fathers of the same child (in the genetic sense).
If the only way Edward and Frank raise children is by jointly adopting children, I don't see any legal complications.
Now, what if Edward and Frank talk about asking their good friend Gloria to bear Frank's child. Frank goes ahead and impregnates Gloria. Gloria gives birth to a wonderful baby girl called Heather who was conceived using Frank's sperm. Edward never adopts Heather. At some point Edward and Frank have a falling out and they get divorced.
Who is responsible for supporting Heather?
If one says Edward must automatically be responsible for the baby Frank and Gloria conceived because Edward and Frank were married at the time, the effect of gay marriage would be more than just to extend the same rights to homosexual couples as heterosexual couples enjoy.
Because if both parties in a marriage are automatically responsible for supporting children one of the parties has with someone outside the marriage, well, that would make Alice automatically responsible for David, whom Bob fathered with Clara by cheating on Alice.
If one says Edward would only be responsible for Heather if he explicitly adopts her, one must then admit gay marriage and heterosexual marriage cannot be the same regarding to the legal responsibilities of the parties with respect to children.
Furthermore, if a legal decision creates the precedent that both parties bound by marriage are responsible for children the other party bears with third persons, well, that would create a serious disincentive to getting married for heterosexual couples.
Now, I am no lawyer or legal expert. I am not familiar with what cases have already been tested in courts etc. Logically, I see this as one way lumping together both types of relationships under the same legal category can cause unexpected responsibilities to arise not only for parties in a heterosexual marriage but also on single individuals (what is Gloria's responsibility to Heather in the absence of an explicit agreement?)
It seems reasonable to me to assume that there will be a case like this. And, no one can a priori preclude that courts will hold Edward who might claim Frank went and had this child with Gloria without Edward's consent responsible for supporting Heather.
This is why it has always made sense to me to arrange the legal framework that governs same sex unions separately from that of the non-same sex unions, preserving equal rights and responsibilities where applicable but making sure to deal with the fundamental differences that arise from the biological impossibility of both parties in a same-sex union being biological parents of the same child and the legal uncertainties that will create for individuals not party to a same sex union.
New York having more than enough lawyers, we'll see where this leads eventually.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I noticed a graph posted by Harry Reid on Twitpic today:
Well, here is another way of comparing private sector employment during the Bush Administration vs the Obama Administration:
Mr. Reid, chartmanship is a double-edged sword ;-)
Thursday, June 2, 2011
There is a fairy tale out there that the U.S. economy is recovering, albeit slowly.
A positive job number here, a little growth there, and a bit of propaganda regarding various Government Motors debt repayment plans over there, it is claimed, add up to a recovery.
They do not.
Here is a straightforward way to understand what is going on:
Suppose you have an above ground pool. One day, for some reason, a wide crack appears at the bottom of the pool and all the water starts gushing out.
You frantically start throwing everything you got into the pool in an effort to fill in the crack. The water continues to flow out but at a slower rate. You throw some more of your precious possessions into the pool. Eventually, most of the water runs out, and the outflow slows down. Congratulations! You have just stopped the recession of the water level in the pool.
In the process, you have lost most of your possessions.
There is now about an inch of water left in the pool.
If you are like the Democrats, you say,
well, throwing everything I got into the pool stopped the recession, so I should throw even more of my things in there.
In the mean time, days pass. Sometimes, it rains. Sometimes, a deer relieves itself in the pool. The level of liquid in the pool increases by a little each time those happen.
But, it is not the beautiful, clear water you had in there before the crack happened.
And, the crack is still there. Fluid still seeps through your family photos, your winter coats, your shoes, lining the bottom of the pool.
You keep throwing more things in there. The displacement causes the level of liquid to rise a little.
By now, you are too poor to fix the pool properly. The pool remains in a state of disrepair and an awful stench rising from all the food you threw in there along with your beautiful widescreen TV.
Eventually, the bottom of the pool cannot withstand the pressure from all the junk piling up around the crack and the entire thing breaks apart, covering everyone in a disgusting mixture of rotting food, deer urine, bird poo and everything else that went in there.
We are at the precipice of such a collapse.
There is not much left to throw into the pool.
The weight of all the wealth destroying actions taken since the spring of 2008 are beginning to become unbearable. We have to start undoing some of the damage done by people who think the economy is a machine with a lever here and a pedal there that can be precisely manipulated by bureaucrats, technocrats, and politicians.
You realize, a little too late, that the best way to have dealt with the situation was to let the water pour out, try to limit the damage to stuff outside the pool, and then fix the pool after the worst was over.
Or, in the Hayek:
The theory which has been guiding monetary and financial policy during the last thirty years, and which I contend is largely the product of such a mistaken conception of the proper scientific procedure, consists in the assertion that there exists a simple positive correlation between total employment and the size of the aggregate demand for goods and services; it leads to the belief that we can permanently assure full employment by maintaining total money expenditure at an appropriate level.
If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order, he will have to learn that in this, as in all other fields where essential complexity of an organized kind prevails, he cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible. He will therefore have to use what knowledge he can achieve, not to shape the results as the craftsman shapes his handiwork, but rather to cultivate a growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner in which the gardener does this for his plants. There is danger in the exuberant feeling of ever growing power which the advance of the physical sciences has engendered and which tempts man to try, "dizzy with success", to use a characteristic phrase of early communism, to subject not only our natural but also our human environment to the control of a human will. The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men's fatal striving to control society - a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals. (emphasis mine)
Hayek spoke those words during the first stagflation experience. There is no reason to relive the experience.
In April, I wrote:
And, in this case, we have to be willing to deal with the consequences of the U.S. government for once having to obey a budget constraint.
I for one do not think such consequences would be that horrible or that long lasting for one simple reason.
Not letting the drunken sailors in charge keep spending as much as they want whenever they want would be a signal of strong future financial discipline and would lower inflationary expectations.
In the current political and economic environment—where more people than ever in the United States and around the world are aware of the country's debt problem—the decision about the debt limit will be precedent-setting. They also know that government spending has increased rapidly in recent years, rising to over 24% of GDP today from 18.2% in 2000. If Washington does not change the budget game now, people will sensibly reason, it will never change the game.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
A lot has been made of the President
killing Osama. I am glad the President, after sending all sorts of signals that he might have asked the FBI to have Osama arrested and tried in a New York City courtroom, had the resolve to order the operation.
Every time the topic comes up, however, I cannot help but think about what would have happened in the hypothetical scenario where he and Osama were in the same room. Would the President have been capable of taking out Osama himself?
I do not think so. And, I doubt there are many people who think he would have.
On the other hand, it is not inconceivable that W would have taken Osama out.
We are living in a world sliding towards global chaos and mayhem at the hands of rulers and challengers who have no qualms about killing innocents. It is increasingly crucial that these people have Saddam's and Osama's fates in mind when they plot their actions.
Unfortunately, Saddam being plucked out of a hole and his unceremonious hanging have faded from memory, and Mr. President has taken every opportunity to signal that he would shy away from taking the battle to the real evil-doers if they happen to rule over a country.
Please, release Osama's photos Mr. President. And, for God's sake, please stop talking about hightailing out of Iraq and Afghanistan to save a few dollars.