Saturday, April 23, 2016

Abortion comments (inspired by Facebook posts re Oklahoma)


This proposal is based on the premise that it’s irrational to demand that a public health problem be solved but at the same time be adamantly opposed to the methods of solving it. The public health problem in this case is one we know how to solve, namely, unwanted pregnancy. The methods of solving it are readily available, safe, extensively tested, and found to be effective, at least at the individual level. It’s a well-known and widely-accepted fact that long-term effects of this particular public health problem fall unequally on the sexes, with the female being physically affected, subjected to potential medical complications, and traditionally burdened with nearly two decades of direct responsibility for the care, feeding, and education of another human being, whereas the male’s participation in this responsibility is largely voluntary or, when involuntary, limited to financial contribution. The main points are:
(1) Immediately enact a so-called “life tax” to provide for public funding of “life services,” defined as prenatal health care, treatment for medical conditions arising from pregnancy, and care, including medical care, clothing, food, shelter, and both education and special education as needed, for any infant born to a mother who would otherwise have chosen to abort it. Life services would continue until the child is 18 years old.
(2) Establish residency requirements, for access to such support, similar to those already established, for example, for tuition at post-secondary institutions.
(3) Require DNA testing of mother, infant, and father (when the father can be ascertained) when an infant is born to a mother who would otherwise have aborted it. Costs of such testing would be paid by life tax revenues. If necessary, use test results to identify the father. Require, by law, the father to contribute half of the costs incurred in providing life services to mother and infant, and provide for an 18-year lien on the father’s earnings if necessary, with an extension to such time as the state is re-paid half of the life services costs by the father. Include in this law a provision that the father’s parents are liable for this contribution if the father is a minor.
(4) Immediately establish sex-education programs in all public schools, the curriculum to include effective contraception. Withhold certification from private schools that do not institute such a curriculum.
(5) Immediately provide birth control services for all individuals who want them but are unable to afford them. Pay for these services through the life tax. Services would include oral contraceptives, Plan B, condoms, patches, injections, and all other forms of artificial birth control to individuals over the age of 14. These services would be available in school health centers.
(6) In the event that an infant born to a mother who would otherwise have obtained an abortion requires long-term care or services due to a congenital condition, then such care and services would be provided by the state and funded by life tax revenues.
(7) In the event that pregnancy results from rape or incest, the mother would receive a lifetime stipend for carrying the fetus to term and the state would fund all services resulting from this birth, including counseling, adoptive services, and treatment of any medical conditions, including mental or emotional ones, resulting from the conception and delivery of this infant. In the case of rape or incest, residency and means requirements do not apply.
(8) The overall impact of this program, including life tax and life services, will be reviewed every ten years by qualified consultants from outside the state. Life tax will be adjusted annually to ensure revenues adequate to support life services programs.
A rough estimate, based on the widely available information on costs of rearing children in the United States fall is about $500,000 per non-aborted fetus if you add in the overhead costs of administering the above program. For example, Wisconsin reported 7,640 abortions in 2011; at that rate we’re looking at somewhere in the vicinity of $3.8 billion over the next 18-20 years to provide life services as part of Walker’s plan to deal with the problem of unwanted pregnancy for a single year. Alternatively, of course, that $3.8 billion would be paid by those who would have had an elective abortion but could not because of the law or other de facto restrictions on reproductive services, and that’s assuming that the individuals involved actually had the resources to pay these bills.
We have, of course, not even started to consider the social costs of unwanted pregnancy brought to term, and I’m not sure there is any real way to calculate those costs so that the public in general, and male legislators in particular, appreciate their impact on society. We do know that social factors such as lack of education, poverty, and crime are linked at least to some degree, and that “quality of life” factors are important for the attraction of business to a particular region. So in essence, the $3.8 billion should probably be considered a conservative estimate of the overall impact of unwanted pregnancy on the State of Wisconsin. Obviously there are 49 other states with varying numbers of abortions performed annually, but I have not calculated the overall national cost. C’mon, GOP, man up. Pass this tax and unlike G. W. Bush and his Iraq war of choice, make the nation pay for your personal beliefs and sexual politics.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Comments on the Gideon Marshall Mystery Series

Comments on the Gideon Marshall Mystery Series, and especially the forthcoming one: THE WEATHERFORD TRIAL (TWT) (comments given to my Beta readers):

This version of the fourth Gideon Marshall Mystery is now in its sixth or seventh draft, and ready for some Beta reader comments. Although each of these books is written to be a stand-alone mystery, with the second one (THE STITCHER FILE) I started working in enough backstory to accomplish that task. I was determined to make this fourth one a trial, for a number of reasons. First, I simply wanted to see if I could handle a trial in fiction. Second, an arrest, at the end of THE EARTHQUAKE LADY, needed a trial to follow. And finally, I wanted, and needed, to do one in third person, with the narrative extended over a several month period, again as a training exercise. The first three books are written in what I call “first person real time” in the sense that aside from backstory, all of the events take place within a few days, the main character is Gideon Marshall, and he’s narrating the action from his own POV. In a trial, because participants are not allowed access to all the information and witnesses can’t observe courtroom action until they are called to the stand, the third person narrative was necessary.
In preparation for writing this one, I read Robert Traver’s ANATOMY OF A MURDER, much of John Grisham’s A TIME TO KILL, and the introductory pages of Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. These three books came up repeatedly when I asked social media contacts about fiction that contained trial scenes. I had also read Grisham’s SYCAMORE ROW and ROGUE LAWYER, both of which had trial scenes. I also spent many days in the Lincoln Hall of Justice watching district court judges and attorneys functioning in their particular roles. Finally, I studied several trial transcripts, including that of Oklahoma City bombing perp Timothy McVeigh. The big question to be answered was: what do these successful writers get by with in terms of demands on a reader? In this book I tried to be somewhere in the ballpark, my estimate of the size of that park being based on those previously published books.
In general, my writing goal is to make a manuscript interesting no matter where one starts. In working through my own edits, I repeatedly open up the stack of paper at random places and ask whether the text is at least somewhat interesting. I also do that with books in the library and in Barnes and Noble, just to see what hard-cover published authors are getting by with. They get by with a lot of crap. In TWT, the main character is the defense attorney, Connecticut “Connie” Bergen, part of the legal team of Stevens Oil, Inc., a global energy enterprise owned by Delmar Stevens, a multi-billionaire. The focus of all these Gideon Marshall mysteries is intellectual property produced by scientists, important because of Stevens’ belief that this work has enormous value and can provide its owner with unimaginable power, assuming that owner also has the tools to implement the ideas. Stevens has the tools and wants the property.
In my opinion, this one still needs some intrigue and the main device I’ve introduced for providing that intrigue is a 3x5 card. After I get comments from readers, I’ll probably need another 500-1000 words scattered throughout to weave that card into the narrative so that the last two pages make sense.

Thanks for taking the time to look at this one!

John Janovy, Jr.