Sunday, January 02, 2005

Sowell On Crack

This is an elaboration on a comment I made at Pandagon, but I thought it deserved a smaller audience.'s Thomas "Organs" Sowell wrote the following:

Marriage is not a right extended to individuals by the government. It is a restriction on the rights they already have.

People who are simply living together can make whatever arrangements they want, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. They can divide up their worldly belongings 50-50 or 90-10 or whatever other way they want. They can make their union temporary or permanent or subject to cancellation at any time.

Marriage is a restriction. If my wife buys an automobile with her own money, under California marriage laws I automatically own half of it, whether or not my name is on the title. Whether that law is good, bad, or indifferent, it is a limitation of our freedom to arrange such things as we ourselves might choose. This is just one of many decisions that marriage laws take out of our hands.

The last paragraph is sheer idiocy. (Actually, the whole column is idiocy, but the last paragraph above is idiocy at its finest.)

Here's a statement from a State of California website which describes the basics of California community property law:

California is a community property state. This means that all property married couples acquire while domiciled in California is community property. Each spouse owns an equal share of all community property.

Separate property is all property owned separately by the husband or wife before marriage. It includes all property acquired separately after marriage, such as gifts or inheritances. Separate property also includes money earned while domiciled in a separate property state. All property declared separate property in a valid pre- or post-nuptial agreement is also separate property.

To recap:

1. If Sowell's wife buys a car with her "own money," the car is her separate property.

2. If Sowell's wife earns money during the marriage, the money is not her "own money." It is community property and the car bought with that community property is also community property.

3. The community property law does not limit the Sowells' "freedom to arrange such things as we ourselves might choose." As stated above, "All property declared separate property in a valid pre- or post-nuptial agreement is also separate property." The Sowells can arrange things however they damn please.

This is not an esoteric point of law. It's well known, in California, even by single people without Ph.D.s or make-work think tank jobs.

Sowell has impressive credentials: Harvard University, Columbia and a Ph.D. from the U. of Chicago. How can it be that he's such an idiot about his own economic rights?

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