5“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
–Malachi 4:5-6 ESV
Cane Caldo makes the case for bringing the concept of bastard back:
Mothers of bastards are incentivized to make peace with the fathers. Currently, bastard mothers are incentivized to be at war with the father, and to threaten him with no access to his child. She is incentivized to recruit the power of the courts against him because it is her best bet financially; even though it is the worst bet for the bastard’s spiritual, mental, and emotional good. “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
This is the old conservative view, and is contrary to the new conservative view which has great zeal for the new family model based on single mothers collecting child support. Interestingly, while modern conservatives almost universally love the new destructive family model, some on the left are concerned about the way this new model alienates fathers from their children (emphasis mine):
…child support is generally perceived as a pure good: a benefit to children, families, and society, as well as a moral and legal obligation of absent parents. But for the millions of children whose child support has been assigned to the government,5 the reality of child support is anything but pure or good. Poor mothers are forced to name absent fathers, and then sue them—and sue them again and again. Because the fathers are often also poor, the vast amount of assigned child support goes unpaid and insurmountable arrearages quickly result.6 The fathers who try almost always fail as the automated enforcement mechanisms throttle endlessly: a trucker’s license is suspended, so he cannot work; a laborer’s wages are garnished at sixty-five percent, so he cannot afford to pay his own rent; a father obtains a new job and then loses it after being incarcerated for contempt because of his child support arrearages.7 The relationships between the mothers and fathers, fragile at their beginnings, can be obliterated through the process. The hopes of children to have fathers who are supportive and involved in their lives are often dissolved.8
The quote above is from the paper Child Support Harming Children: Subordinating the Best Interests of Children to the Fiscal Interests of the State, by Daniel L. Hatcher. Hatcher is arguing against the Republican welfare reform of the 1990s. This reform all but obliterated the line between welfare and child support and thereby exposed a new class of broken families to the corrosive power of the child support system.
While Hatcher is on the left and would prefer to remove all stigma from single motherhood (just like modern conservatives), he unintentionally makes Cane’s point that the concept of bastard promoted reconciliation and marriage due to the stigma attached to the term. Hatcher quotes an 1832 decision of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky regarding the bastardy act in Burgen v. Straughan (emphasis mine):
[N]or can we perceive how it can be unlawful or immoral, or inconsistent with the policy of the law, for the mother of a bastard to agree with the father that, if he will co-operate in the maintainance [sic] of their child, she will not proceed under the bastardy act . . . . It should not be deemed injurious to the community or county. It is not the public duty of the mother of an illegitimate child to assert her statutory right. Her voluntary forbearance is no breach of any moral or civil obligation. Her child may become a burthen to her county; but this might happen, and would, perhaps, be more likely to occur, if such contracts as that we are now considering should be declared illegal and void. Many, in her condition, might prefer all the wretchedness of destitution and poverty, to a voluntary promulgation, in a county court, of all the circumstances necessary to coerce contributions under the bastardy act.
- Debtors prisons are an essential tool of our new public policy.
- How we came to embrace illegitimacy.
- How changes to welfare encouraged the illegitimacy explosion.
- The blurry line between the welfare state and child support