(Thanks to Mark Charalambous -- S.B.)


CNBC's Hardball

August 20, 1999

(Show starts off with clips from George W. Bush dated June 30th.)

Bush: There is certain behavior that will really make it hard for you to
access the dream.

Reporter: Right

Bush: Having children out of wedlock, is.... you know we'll love the
babies, but a child out of wedlock is going to make it awfully hard for the
mother to be able to succeed in America.

(Next clip from George W. Bush dated August 19th.)

Bush: When find success we ought to praise it and when find places where
children are left behind we need to correct these problems.

(end of clips)

Hardball's Host: That was Texas Governor, George W. Bush. President Clinton
has also made child support one of his key issues and he's announced a
crack down on the country's most degreedous child support violators. The
president claims that child support collects have gone up 80% during his
administration to almost 15 billion dollars in 1998. But not everyone
thinks the system is working. Joining us now from Washington is Stephen
Baskerville. He's a professor from Howard University and the spokesman for
Men, Fathers & Children International. Stephen Baskerville, what is the
problem with child support as you see it today?

Baskerville: Child support is essentially a way of financing what amounts
to the judical kidnapping of children. Throughout this country there are
massive amounts of children that are being taken away from their fathers
for any reason and for no reason. These are fathers who are accused of no
wrongdoing in most instances. There are fathers who have never agreed to a
separation or divorce yet they are regularly hauled into court told they
have no decision making power over their children....

Hardball's Host: (interrupting) But Stephen, aren't they hauled into court
because they are not paying any support for their children?

Baskerville: No I'm talking about before there is any order against the
father, before there is any consideration of support. These are fathers who
have done nothing wrong, these are fathers who have not separated from
their children, there are fathers who have not agreed to a separation. They
are just simply being hauled into court and stripped of custody of their
children, ordered to stay away from them most of the time...

Hardball's Host: (interrupting) In what states does this happen?

Baskerville: This happens in virtually every state of the country and it's
happening in many foreign countries as well. This is increasingly a
worldwide problem. It's happening throughout in virtually every
jurisdiction I know of that I've experienced, this kind of thing. Fathers
are told....

Hardball's Host: (interrupting) Stephen, I've got to tell you, I got to
tell you, this sounds like Mars to me. I don't know of any jurisdiction
anywhere where there is absolutely no parental right granted fathers simply
because they are male which seems to me at this point is what you're
saying.

Baskerville: This is the astounding fact, if you exclude convicted
criminals in this country, there is no sector in our society that has fewer
rights than fathers. Fathers can be deprived of their children, their life
savings, their home, their privacy and their freedom without any
Constitutional or Bill of Rights protections at all. This is a shocking
situation but it is true. Fathers who are accused of nothing are ordered by
family court judges to pay the fees of lawyers they have not hired. They
are told, they are hauled into court and told 'pay my friend or go to
jail'. Now most people would call this a shakedown racket and that is
exactly what it is. Fathers who have not, again, not accused of anything
are told they must pay as much as two thirds and sometimes more of their
income....

Hardball's Host: (interrupting) Well Stephen, fathers don't have to be
accused of anything to be required to support their children or in many
instances to help with the attorney's fees in divorce litigation because
they have the resources to do so and the non-working mother doesn't or the
mother doesn't have the resources the father has. In civil divorce
litigation, there need be no accusation that determines then where the
financing ends up going.

Baskerville: Well, you're exactly right and the results of this is that we
have a system of government sponsored kidnapping extortion. The government,
the family courts and other government agencies are essentially in the
business of taking children from their fathers and sometimes mothers and
then shaking down the fathers for they have....

Hardball's Host: (interrupting) Alright, let's go to Sacramento. Joining us
now is Nora O'Brien, the California State Director of ACES, the Association
for Children for Enforcement of Child Support. Nora O'Brien, the government
is in the business of kidnapping, of shaking down, of extortion, and you
love it, don't you?

O'Brien: Ahhh, no actually not, we don't think...we don't see it that way.
The issue is that, this issue of child support is not a gender issue. It's
not a war between mother and dad. It's an issue of children not receiving
the support that they deserve and doing everything that children
deserve...the emotional and financial support of both parents, we believe.

Hardball's Host: OK and joining me in Los Angeles is Marcia Clark. (Clark
smiling the whole time) Marcia Clark, you an I both live in LA, I know...I
personally know a number of women who ARE PAYING CHILD SUPPORT to their
husbands who are not making as much money as they do, who are paying
alimony to their husbands, who have surrendered vast resources to their
husbands. Where does this idea come from that the male is somehow oppressed
in divorce litigation and then in child support judgments?

Clark: (never breaking her smile) From Stephen Baskerville...(laughs). I
mean the truth of the matter is that what we tend to do, and I think the
general intent of all of these laws is to make sure that children are taken
care of. And especially in California, the intent is to have both the
parents support the children, however that may be, and whoever makes more
money pays. That's the bottom line. It has nothing to do with gender. If
you make more money, you're going to pay. If I make more money, I'm going
to pay.

Hardball's Host: Stephen Baskerville, what's wrong with that? You know that
in California there is a computer program where you just plug in numbers.
Here's the wife's resources, here's the husband's resources, here's who
will get what amount of child support. What is evil about a computer
program that divides up the numbers that way?

Baskerville: Well for one thing, I think we all know that the computer
system in California, like in most jurisdictions, is a mess. The California
child support system is in complete disarray, as it is in many other
jurisdictions. But the deeper problem behind this, is the system of child
support is created by a massive machine of people. This machine consists of
family court judges, of lawyers, of child support enforcement agents,
essentially a system of bureaucratic police, of social workers and others,
who all have one thing in common. They have a vested interest, a financial
interest in ripping as many children away from their fathers as possible.

Hardball's Host: (interrupting) What is their financial interest in that?
What piece of the action do they get?

Baskerville: Ah, the lawyers get obviously get legal fees.

Hardball's Host: (interrupting) OK but you're accusing the judges, the
clerks, the court officers. Everybody's in a racket where they are somehow
siphoning off of child support?

Baskerville: Child support is only part of it, there's a much...there's a
bigger picture here. What happens, the judge sits at the center a patronage
racket. The judge funnels...when the father is hauled into court, he is
essentially plundered for everything he has. The judge then proceeds to
pass out, to dole out everything in his account to favored cronies of the
court which include lawyers, psychotherapists, and others. Ah, the child
support enforcement people also have a stake in this. They are the ones
that actually write in many instances, they actually write the child
support guidelines themselves, the courts and the enforcement agents. In
other words it's the equivalent of the courts and the police writing the
laws. If this happened anywhere else in society we would have a police
state. And that is exactly what we are creating around fathers.

Hardball's Host: OK, Stephen Baskerville says we got a police state around
fathers. We aren't buying it but you're watching Hardball on CNBC.

(commercial)

Hardball's Host: And we're back on Hardball. Marcia Clark, the only problem
I've ever been aware of in child support is basically the men's refusal to
pay child support. Now men being the people most frequently ordered to pay
child support although it always doesn't work out that way and that in all
the welfare legislation moving in the Congress in the last few years, one
of the provisions that has always been in there is that we have to enforce
child support, we have to enforce child support as a way of relieving some
of the welfare payments end up being made because no child support is being
made.

Clark: (trying to smile and talk) That's right and in a matter of fact in
California, where you have a spouse and it doesn't matter which one it is,
you know, it's genderless, completely neutral that way, but whoever's been
ordered to pay, to the extent that they don't and that the other spouse,
the receiving spouse goes on welfare, when they catch up with the one who
is suppose to pay, he will be required to reimburse welfare even if the
spouse no longer needs the help. So in other.....

Hardball's Host: (interrupting) Stephen Baskerville, what's wrong with
that?

Baskerville: Well first of all, parents of neither gender should have to
suffer this. But this misconception of men are not paying is simply not
true. Fathers who have visitation and joint custody of their children
overwhelmingly do pay child support. The leading reason why people do not
pay child support is because they are unemployed. The fathers who don't pay
child support generally can't pay child support. They're usually part of
the under....

Hardball's Host: (interrupting) But Stephen, just a second. Whenever your
economic circumstances change, whenever you become unemployed, whenever you
get a pay cut, you can march right into the court. You don't need a lawyer
for it, you can lay out the numbers, you say look....my situation has
changed, I can't afford it and they change the child (Baskerville tries to
interrupt stating NO) support order.

Baskerville: Unfortunately that's not the case. They almost never change
child support orders....

Hardball's Host: (interrupting and screaming) Ohhhh wait a minute Stephen,
THAT'S THE LAW! DON'T TELL ME IT'S NOT THE CASE! That is exactly the way it
works.

Baskerville: The law is on the books. And the law that operates in family
courts are two different things. Family courts operate in secret for the
most part. There is no record of their proceedings. Witnesses....

Hardball's Host: (interrupting and screaming while Marcia makes a loud sigh
at the same time) THERE IS A RECORD! EVERY SINGLE CHILD SUPPORT ORDER IS A
PUBLIC RECORD. It's a piece of paper you can go and get.

Baskerville: Excuse me, the public are generally excluded from family court
proceedings. And....

Hardball's Host: (interrupting and screaming) I CAN GO GET YOUR child
support order or anybody elses child support order in the state of
California. There's nothing private about it.

Baskerville: Uh'hum. But you cannot...you do not know what goes on within
the family court proceeding. Very seldom judges lower child support
awards...

Hardball's Host: (interrupting and screaming) I KNOW WHAT GOES ON, THERE'S
A COMPUTER THAT'S PLUGGING THE NUMBERS! EVERYONE KNOWS HOW THE COMPUTER
WORKS.

Baskerville: (trying to get a word in) Excuse me, judges have a vested
interest in keeping child support awards as high as possible.

Hardball's Host: (interrupting and screaming) BECAUSE...

Baskerville: The higher the awards are...to bring more fathers and more
children into the system. This is how the system is designed, to create
deadbeat dads. It is created...it is designed to create arrearages....

Hardball's Host: (interrupting and screaming in amazement) IS THIS
BECAUSE...IS THIS FOR THE JUDGE'S PRESERVATION of his own job?

Baskerville: Precisely!

Hardball's Host: (screaming in amazement) YOU THINK, YOU THINK family court