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August 2-8, 2006

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Letters to the Editor

Amazing Exposé

Cecily Ruttenberg's cover article "Who's Your Daddy?" (July 19) is an amazing exposé of the "child support" system, for those of us who still have any faith in the government and so still have the capacity to be amazed at its corruptions.

Not only fathers but some mothers are victimized in almost the same way. But for simplicity, I'll stick with the father-as-victim scenario. Readers, don't forget that either gender may be a victim; it depends on the particular case. The article illustrates that some men are forced to pay "support" for children they have never seen because they are prevented from seeing them. But it doesn't say why they are prevented from seeing or raising their children. Often, it may be due to the financial incentives built into the child support system. The mothers have a financial incentive to deny fathering time, because the custody time imbalance, where the mother has all the custody time, jacks up support payment amounts in her favor. The main ingredients in the formula for the size of the "child support" payments are: (1) the proportions of custody time each parent has, and (2) how much money each parent has or earns (sometimes, just how much a parent earns). Thus, as some of us have experienced, once the government starts calculating child support, some mothers minimize the amount of time the father can spend with the child and minimize their own reportable incomes! In a divorce, the family court repeats the government's platitudes that each parent should become financially self-sufficient and that the two parents should cooperate with each other; but what the child support system really pays them to do is to earn as little as possible and to minimize the amount of custody time the other parent can get.

The most astounding thing in the whole article is near the end, where Ms. Ruttenberg shows that the government makes no attempt to hold mothers accountable even when (as illustrated earlier in the article) they wreak such havoc by naming the wrong father. Many readers will also have noticed that women generally are not held accountable for lying about anything: rape, domestic violence, and so on ad nauseum. A lot of us have been their victims. (Women are sometimes victims in other ways, but that's beyond the scope of this letter.)

Paula Roberts of "Citizens for Law and Social Policy" (CLASP) is quoted as saying the law works well "most of the time [for most of the people]." I doubt it. And, I would have hoped that a representative of CLASP could imagine a better set of laws and a better social policy. Here's one: Instead of just an "Equal Rights Amendment," let's have an "Equal Rights and Responsibilities Amendment," with a governmental and social philosophy to match that.

Finally, in the long term, the solution is not about either of the genders. Rather, it is about humanity. Consider what kind of humanity we are cultivating now, when the parent who lies is the one trusted to raise the children up to be responsible citizens.

John Lehman, San Jose

Love and Ricketts

Steinbeck's métier—the novel of social protest—bore no obvious (Ed) Rickettsian influence.

It took only 35 years for someone to write a better Travels With Charley, for example, than Steinbeck's (this was 1997's Invincible Summer: Traveling America in Search of Yesterday's Baseball Greats, a 229-page, 25,873-mile book by Santa Clara native Dave D'Antonio, and his 1993 red Geo Metro, Nellie).

No one, though, is likely to write a better The Grapes of Wrath than Steinbeck's.

And the modest D'Antonio won't acknowledge that his Summer was better than or even the equal of Charley, written, as he put it on page 10 of his own book, by a "beef stew of a man."

Dave Canfield, San Jose

Diamond Is Forever

Concerning the movie review on Leonard Cohen by Richard von Busack ("Monk of Doom," Film Review, July 19). I AM sooooo tired I SAID with everyone's reference to Neil Diamond's stage performances. The man (Neil) is a genuine genius and doesn't have to hide behind fake lyrics like Cohen has all his life. If honesty is uncool, then I hope Neil stays uncool forever. I LOVE YOU NEIL, EVERMORE!

Anita Baker, Beverly Hills

Art Link Letter

Re "Missing Links" (Menu, July 12). I was impressed by your restaurant review of Dog House. It's a great place to just grab a bite with friends when out and about in San Jose as well. I appreciated that your writer conveyed the menu and location in a clear and concise manner. I look forward to other reviews from her in the future.

Alex C., Geneva, N.Y.

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