There was column in The Mining Journal last Saturday written by Bill O'Reilly. It was titled "Importance of daddy seen on Fathers Day." He points out that "Single mothers head up almost 9 percent of American households," that an estimated 40 percent of those in jail today are products of those households. These are kids who " . . . did not have a father in their childhood home."
Another source offered these statistics: The connection between violence and children "born out of wedlock or raised by a single parent" is 26 percent. And that figure jumps to 71 percent for "the poor."
A recent legal decision has authorized the taking of DNA samples from a wider range of people than had been permitted in the past. DNA, as I understand it, is as positive an identifier as fingerprints. It can be used with certainty to establish paternity to determine the legal parent of a child born to a woman who is either hesitant to identify the father or has been, can I say, promiscuous?
In any event my article is not "crime and punishment" but responsibility. There is a responsibility that "phantom fathers" have to support the children they have conceived. DNA would be a legal answer to determining parenthood. I would go so far as to suggest that, in any case where parental responsibility is involved, the child in question should be represented by his or her own attorney. The court can more justly determine the terms and conditions of a settlement when there is full legal representation of the interests of the newborn.
The expenses involved should be fully covered by the state. Before anyone gets all bent out of shape over this cost to taxpayers, review the cost: Those raised without fathers, they are about 40 percent of the inmates in our prisons, are costing (in 2010) just over $31,000.00 each, annually. Also note the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. We have a prison population of 2,266,800. Do the math. You'll discover that's a whooole lot of pork and beans.
How many of those criminals would we have had to salvage to make an investment in their legal representation to garner the support of an absentee father? to provide them with a better childhood? The savings in dollars and the quality of their lives would be well worth what it cost in taxes.
Speaking of the quality of life, let's not begrudge a little assistance to the many poor families out there struggling every day to keep body and soul together. A special message to the "wealthiest 1 percent" of our fellow citizens: No one blames you for not trusting the government to administer an aid program. You all are successful as evidenced by your social position. You might consider reaching back, demonstrating a little empathy by getting involved. Create jobs or paying higher wages or just downright charity
This next is not something that can be legislated but it's a pretty well accepted fact that children who receive parental love, guidance and care are far less likely to resort to criminal acts in later life. No judge or court order will ever be able to provide that. The thing they might be able to do is that, threatened with the higher probability of legal action to affix responsibility, it would promote a little caution even "in the heat of passion." Maybe folks would practice better birth control measures?
Some degree of empathy is a necessary for every one of us to attain genuine happiness in this world. Unfortunately empathy can't be bought. Empathy has to be learned, taught by example. How about the rest of us setting that example, you and I and the "1 percent."
For any of you absentee fathers out there who may be reading this, make notes. Because, when I am the King. ...
Editors note: Ben Mukkala is an award-winning northern Michigan author whose several books on life and living are available in printed and e-book form. Books are available in bookstores and gift shops or through his website, www.benmukkala.com.