Monthly Archives: September 2008

SLIPPERY SLOPE!

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On September 8, 2008, something happened in Austin, Texas, making the local news. Between hurricanes and financial bailouts, there was a front-page newspaper story that went largely ignored by most. Now that the world has finished falling apart, temporarily, I can tell you about a Judge’s ruling that some might say smacks Roe v. Wade.

The Honorable Charlie Baird in Travis County got to do something that a lot of people would probably love to do in one form or another. He “ordered a woman to stop having children as a condition of her probation in her case of injury to a child by omission.” The woman is only 20 and admitted to failing to provide protection and medical care to her baby daughter, less than 2 years old, who was beaten by her father. The baby suffered broken bones among other injuries. The baby’s father was sentenced to 15 years in prison, and both parents relinquished their parental rights.

Although the mother was given 10 years probation, required to do 100 hours of community service, and undergo a mental health assessment, she was also ordered not to have any more children. She apparently did not object to the judge’s ruling at the time. Usually an appeal is based on an objection to a ruling. Without the objection, there are no grounds for appeal to a higher court.

Texas, judges are allowed to set conditions of probation. The defendant gave up her parental rights, and failed to object to the conditions of probation. Without having full facts, like knowing details of her relationship with the father, or knowing how she felt and cared for her baby, should this woman be restricted from procreation as a condition of her probation?

Although the constitution does not specifically say that we have a right to bare children whenever we want, there are apparently numerous court rulings that would suggest we have a constitutional right to procreate. But wouldn’t it be nice once in a while to disallow someone from having children if they are a convicted or known abuser of children? But is that really fair?
The newspaper article I read reports that there was one similar case out of Wisconsin. The facts are entirely different, but the ruling was the same. It related to a father of nine children who was convicted of intentionally failing to pay child support. He was ordered not to have children as a condition of his probation. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin upheld the decision. How many people do you know have either not received or not paid child support?

So here is your homework assignment. Answer these questions, and let me know what you think about this case.

1. Does any Judge have the right to order someone not to have children? If it depends on the circumstances, please explain.

2. Is the judicial branch of the government reaching too far in being allowed to make such a ruling? I.e. is the government’s control of the private lives of individuals too strict?

3. Last. Should such a ruling be reserved for severe cases involving injury and/or death to a child only? Please explain.

This topic conjures up numerous topics and angles. It is really hard to stick to the basic concept of “right to privacy.” As you debate the issue, as I did this evening before writing this, numerous different scenarios come up where a ruling like this could be damning to an unsuspecting and undeserving defendant. We will have to see where the Court of Appeals decides to take this case. Until next time, I look forward to the comments!

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Info About Your Money

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Things are crazy in our world right now, but when have they not been? If we were all to let go and quit reading the paper and watching the news tomorrow, do you think all the bad news would go away? If you refocus your energy on good things, your anxiety over money and the world economy would dissipate. The more we worry and fear, the more we bring to light reasons to worry and fear. It is much like growing old gracefully. We spend so much time resisting it through miracle creams, plastic surgery, and covering everything else we cannot change. Resistance only seems to make fear more prevalent. Fear feeds on fear, and that is exactly what the media is stirring up right now.

The key to life is to enjoy it. Like any relationship, one with a partner or a child, has its ups and downs. Do you withdraw your love from a child during the down times? Well, then why would you withdraw your money from a bank during down times? Where would you put it any way? Especially while CD’s are paying high interest rates right now and are FDIC insured. Not only that, if you were to withdraw your IRA, you would end up loosing more money in penalties and taxes. Do you want to keep bailing out producers of profligacy like politicians and Lehman Brothers Holdings?
What you do need to know is whether the FDIC is insuring your money. Here’s the skinny from www.fdic.gov.

FDIC-Insured
. Checking Accounts (including money market deposit accounts)
. Savings Accounts (including passbook accounts)
. Certificates of Deposit
.
Not FDIC-Insured
. Investments in mutual funds (stock, bond or money market mutual funds), whether purchased from a bank, brokerage or dealer
. Annuities (underwritten by insurance companies, but sold at some banks)
. Stocks, bonds, Treasury securities or other investment products, whether purchased through a bank or a broker/dealer

Surely we all face some risk depending on what type of holdings we have. Be smart and do some research. Here is what I have learned from Suzie Orman and other investment gurus this week; leave the mutual funds, stocks and other long-term investments alone. If you have new money to invest, put it in a CD for now, not in the stock market-duhh. Here is a link to an informative article about FDIC insurance. http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/105756/FDIC-Insurance-Protects,-Except-When

If things are really rough for you and you may need to take drastic measures, although I hope no one ever has to do this, I wanted to impart some additional information. Of course, this is coming from Wikipedia, so I would strongly advise you to consult an attorney before doing anything!

Just in case you have thought about bankruptcy and are worried about loosing your IRA, pension or 401K, I believe that the United States Supreme Court has ruled in one or more cases that a persons IRA is exempt from his or her bankruptcy estate. This may not be the case in all chapters of the Bankruptcy Code, so if this is an option you are exploring, check with an attorney. The case mentioned on Wikipedia was from Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, and most people file for bankruptcy under Chapters 7 or 13. Keep in mind that bankruptcy laws changed recently which afford more protection for creditors.

As far as protection from creditors many states have laws that prohibit judgments from lawsuits to be satisfied by seizure of IRA assets. I do not know what the laws in Texas protect your investments from Writs of Execution or failure to pay taxes. If there is any protection, those deposits into your IRA should have been made prior to any lawsuit or credit issues.

Last, I would advise you, no matter whether there was a crisis or not, to explore heavily each candidates plan, including those that are running as your U.S. Senator and Representatives. They will greatly affect your future including your ability to pay fewer taxes and afford health insurance. Here is a comparison of the candidates tax plans! http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/23165.html

Hold on Tight and God Speed!