I have mixed emotions about this one. As a mother who raised my children with almost no financial help and was owed well over $30,000 in child support that I’ll never collect (since my ex practiced the most effective avoidance technique of all by dying just before my son turned 18), I can’t help smiling at the thought of these guys (and it is mostly guys) finally having to pay up. It disgusts me that they refused to support their children for years but obviously have the money since they’re able to miraculously come up with it when they need a passport.
On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of holding government services hostage, withholding them to force people to pay their debts. These guys are presumably paying their taxes for those services like the rest of us, and even though it’s court-ordered, this is still (or should be) a private debt owed to another individual. What’s next? Will the government start denying passports, drivers’ licenses, business/professional licenses and other services to people who owe money to credit card companies? If you renege on your cell phone contract, will you be unable to renew your vehicle registration? Then what? Will we bring back debtors’ prison?
Not paying child support is already a criminal offense. And I have mixed emotions about that, too. It always seemed to me that if you put the delinquent parent in jail, he (or she) is going to be much less likely to be able to pay it. Yet some of these people are living in million dollar homes and driving new Jaguars while their kids go without the basic necessities of life, and that’s not right, either.
I guess there are just no easy answers. I’m generally a law and order type of person. But the increasing encroachment of government into our lives makes me more than a little uneasy. If the trend continues, I’m afraid the America my children will live in after I’m gone will be very different from the one in which I grew up, the one I (thought I) knew, and loved.
And unlike some, I’m not so naive as to think this is a partisan problem that could be solved by electing the opposing party to office. Unless we suddenly start electing Libertarians (which, unfortunately, doesn’t seem very likely), I’m afraid we’re in for the same rough ride regardless of the outcome of the next and subsequent elections. The rush toward more and more government control has taken on a momentum of its own.