...a blog by Richard Flowers

Monday, July 09, 2007

Day 2378: Do Daddies for Justice have a point?


Because if they do, they're not making it very well!

Mr Michael Cox, who has just been let out after being out in gaol for not paying £43,000 in maintenance to the Child Support Agency was on the The Today Programme trying to explain why it wasn't fair.

If I have this right, Mr Cox is supposed to pay maintenance to look after his children. He looks after them for half the time though, so he gets a 50% reduction in the maintenance he pays. But – he says – since he pays 100% of their upkeep for the 50% of the time that he looks after them, he shouldn't have to pay any for the 50% of the time the time that his wife looks after them. And his wife – apparently – is not unhappy with this arrangement; it is only the CSA that is after him for the cash.

It DOES look like the current arrangement is a bit unfair. It seems that Mr Cox is expected to pay 75% of the upkeep of his kids – all of his own half and half of his wife's half. But it is not IMPOSSIBLE that that is what the court decided, since if Mr Cox happens to earn three times as much as his wife then that would be a FAIR split.

But I am not really sure that that is the case. I think that if he is doing half the looking after, he should probably have to pay less than half to take into account the former Mrs Cox share of the looking after costs.

Otherwise, the system seems to be biased against daddies who actually stick around and do SOME of their share. And that would be DAFT.

Mr Cox, though, did not make a very good job of explaining this, though to be fair he was hindered in putting his case across by another person who just kept saying "You are greedy, you don't want to pay for your kids." Well that was just NOT TRUE as Mr Cox was at least paying for them when they were with him.

Then, Mr Ed Stourton put it to him: "well, it IS the law and so you should obey it!" to which Mr Cox replied: "well, what about when it was the law in Nazi Germany to take property from Jewish people, should you obey that law?"

Mr Stourton's response was "well, don't be silly this isn't Nazi Germany!"

Well, on the one fluffy foot, Mr Cox has broken GODWIN'S LAW (first person to mention the Nazis automatically loses the argument). But on the other fluffy foot, Mr Stourton's answer was CHEATING TOO.

You see, if you are going to say you must do this in ALL cases (like here, Mr Ed says obey ALL laws) then if someone counters with an extreme example you CANNOT say "extreme examples aren't allowed" because what you are ACTUALLY saying then is "you must do this in all cases except some".

It is the EXTREME examples that test us.

If it would be silly to apply the "obey all laws" rule in Nazi Germany then why is it not silly to apply it here and now? How do we tell the difference? And where is the dividing line to be drawn?

Because if you ARE saying "you must do this in all cases except some" then you agree actually Mr Cox is RIGHT – some laws ARE wrong and should be broken. So the argument should be whether this IS a law that should be broken, and NOT just say "well breaking the law is wrong so you lose".

I think that this issue was rather too complicated for the The Today Programme though, because they seem to be more interested in having an argument than in working out what would be RIGHT.

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