Roller-Coaster ride over the past few weeks in Bunatia. That is probably the best way to express my feelings. Over this past month, I have filed a Title VI complaint against a governmental entity, demanded a proper hearing regarding my paycheck, and have made a mess of my gastronomy.
For you non-Americans, Title VI refers to the sixth portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Under Title VI, no governmental entity is allowed to refuse services or otherwise mistreat people on the basis of race, sex, national origin, and several other "uncontrollable" attributes. Because of the treatment from Child Support Services, I finally pieced together the roundabout way they had denied me a service that they claimed was my "right." Not to get into details, the person I spoke to gave me one set of instructions while a different person gave my former spouse a different set of instructions with the intention of avoiding doing the work. (Of course, my former wife would benefit from the job not being done!) I don't know if the complaint did anything, but I received a call yesterday that implied they had figured out how to the job without my former spouse's cooperation. The end result won't take effect for a couple of months, but that's better than nothing, right?
Meanwhile, I have a hearing tomorrow regarding the Income Withholding Order (IWO) that has been slapped on my paycheck. Child Support Services in my home State actually has the statutory authority (That means it's in the State law books.) to take the "domestic support" payments directly from my after-tax earnings. Now this wouldn't be a big deal except for three things: 1) It completely ignores the wishes of the earner, who might have been faithfully paying support, and the payee, who may not want this process. 2) It bypasses "due process", creating a situation of "Involuntary Servitude". 3) The latest "insult to injury" is that my employer has decided to offset the cost of processing an IWO by charging the employee a $5 "child support fee" each paycheck!
Let me back up and explain those things a bit better. The first point is that it ignores the wishes of the earner and payee. In my case, I have finally emerged from Chapter 13 bankruptcy. As part of the plan, I agreed for the trustee to grab up a large chunk of my "disposable income", which is better known as my "net" or "after-tax" income. I agreed to that plan, partially because the frustration I was feeling at the time I filed needed to be soothed, and I was sold on the ease. So, what is the difference, here? I was not offered the option of "automatic payments" for my child support. I just received a notice in the mail telling me that the IWO is in effect, and I can apply for a hearing to have it removed. Let me get one thing straight: I
have no problem pay
ing my fair
share. Notice those first two words in bold? The IWO, in my case, is a violation of my desire to be the one making the payment. The third word, "fair", is also important, but not an appropriate subject for the IWO hearing.
Secondly, this bypassed "due process". I was not informed of the intention to file such and order, with the opportunity to present my case to not have such and order. No, It was placed on me with no warning. By taking from me my earnings, I find myself in a position of "Involuntary Servitude". Okay, let's properly name our garden tools, here: It's a version of slavery. In fact, it bears a strong resemblance to the 19th century practice of renting out skilled slaves, like blacksmiths, carpenters, or stonemasons. In that arrangement, the slave did the work and the master got the pay.
Without the third point, I would not have worried about whether I had the IWO or not. I mean, I had already set up a system of direct deposit and ACH to get the money to CSS before they decided to "cut out the middleman". However, I have a problem with the idea of charging an employee a fee to process the IWO that was placed on him. It's not like the IWO was something they requested, it was ordered on him. I am surprised that there is that much of a burden for any employer to fulfill the requirements of an IWO. However, I work for a very large employer, and it's quite possible that there are a lot of people that have had their paychecks garnished. That being said, it's a bit foolhardy to see your employee's paychecks as a revenue stream to reclaim administrative costs. No, such costs are part of the cost of labor for your business/non-profit/government. To start to pull from your employee's pay such costs would be an encouragement for such employees to decide to find employment elsewhere.
Since it's already been brought up, and will be used in their defense, allow me to answer the obvious retort: "Well, they're your kids, you should be supporting them." To which I will reply:
"This is not about the children.
The children is a nice handle to use to yank heartstrings, but it is not about the children.
This is about punishing another person and making sure that a person suffers.
This is about shaming a person for what is out of their control.
This is about power to control the behavior of other people.
This is about greed and getting something for nothing.
This is about abuse, which is reprehensible in the first place, but to abuse in the name of the children makes it all the more reprehensible."