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Policy and Legislature Family and Consumer Science

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Policy and Legislature that affect Family and Consumer Science
Birdie Bell
December 11, 2014
Dr. Lynda Martin

POLICY AND LEGISLATURE THAT AFFECT FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCE

Family and consumer sciences are an important academic discipline that students in most of North America take as a humanity subject (Brotherson & Duncan, 2004). The aim of this paper is to identify the policies and legislation on families in the United States and consumer science and examples will be used to illustrate these clearly.
Federal and State laws on Families The United States Supreme Court has long made a pronouncement that the family law belongs to the individual states within the nation’s federalist system. Even if the federal government has as well undertaken regulation of issues that affect families, initially in a sporadic manner and then in a more consistent manner, the Court has made an affirmation of the primary role of the state in defining family. A large number of commentators show of appreciation of this authority allocation, presenting an argument that that it plays an important role in promoting family pluralism by showing to honor to local values and choices. However, others point out that federalism creates “equality by design” (Laura, 2014, p. 1835). Therefore, a large number of commentators present an argument that deference to states play a role of insulating courts and federal agencies from the disorderliness of family life, thus demeaning the family relationships’ significance, devaluating children and women, and improperly emphasizing the divide between the private and public spheres. The critics also point out that the assigning of the family law to states complicates the many ways that the family is already implicated in several substantive areas of the federal law, encompassing the law of individual liberties and tax law (Laura, 2014, p. 1836).
In spite of such criticisms, the Supreme Court went on deferring to the definition of states of family in 3 recent cases that concern definition of family for the federal law purposes. In “Astrue v. Capato”, the Supreme Court upheld, “the Social Security Administration’s use of state’s intestacy laws to determine whether posthumously conceived twins qualify as ‘children’ for purposes of federal survivors benefits” (Laura, 2014, p. 1836). The term that followed, the Supreme Court turned to the other half of the child-parent relationship, making an assumption that the definitions of the state of “parent” were applicable to a challenged adoption under the federal “Indian Child Welfare Act”. The in the U.S v. Windsor, the Supreme Court put stressed that the state authority and power over marriage as an issue of tradition and history in making a ruling that, “The provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage between one man and one woman unconstitutionally excluded same-sex marriages, recognized under some state’s marriage laws, from federal benefits”( Laura, 2014, p. 1837). Although the Supreme Court did not make a decision explicitly about this case basing on the federalism grounds, each holding reiterated the assignment of the Court of family position to the states. The family pluralistic definitions thus persist even while the federal government distributes benefits increasingly to, and inflicts a burden, on the family members.

In “Astrue v. Capato”, a mother looked for the “federal Social Security survivors” benefits for the twins she had conceived by utilizing the frozen sperms of her husband. Just before he died, the husband had taken an initiative of depositing his sperms in the sperm bank with expectation of his upcoming treatment for the esophageal cancer he was suffering from. This couple had conceived a child in a natural way while the husband was undergoing his chemotherapy treatment. However, the husband succumbed to cancer before they could have their second child. From there, the wife went through vitro fertilization, delivering twins one and a half year after the death of the husband. It was undeniable that the twins were actually the biological kids of the late husband. The first child was qualified for “Social Security survivors” benefits after the death of his father. The mother looked for the same benefits for her twins, but the “Social Security Administration did not accept her application. Appealing a definitional provision of the “federal Social Security Act”, the Agency made a ruling that, “the twins would qualify for benefits only if the intestacy law of the husband’s domiciliary state recognized the twins as his legal children” (Laura, 2014, p. 1838). Since the death of the husband occurred in Florida, and the law of Florida has recognition of the after-born children as being heirs only if their conception occurred before the death of a decedent, the Agency drew a conclusion that the twins were actually not “children” and hence, not eligible for benefits. Following this conclusion, the mother made an appeal in the federal court. The district court had agreed with interpretation made by the Agency of the Social Security Act. This was reversed by the Third Circuit, finding that, “the undisputed biological children of a deceased wage earner and his widow qualified for survivor’s benefits as a matter of federal law, without regard to state intestacy law” (Laura, 2014, p. 1843). It reasoned that the invocation of the “Social Security Act” of the state intestacy law is effective only “when a claimant’s status as a deceased wage-earner’s child in doubt” (Laura, 2014, p. 1843). Since all parties were in agreement that the applicants are the biological children of Capatos, this Court established that it was needless to make application of state law (Laura, 2014). A unanimous Supreme Court did not agree to this. Making a keen analysis of the interplay of a number of the Social Security Act’s provisions, the Supreme Court drew a conclusion that that the Agency was logical in requiring the applicants for the survivors benefits to be able to meet the “child” definition “under the relevant state’s intestacy law or under the three, relatively narrow definitions of a child otherwise set forth in the Act” (Laura, 2014, p. 1850). Since the mother of twins did not invoke at least on the criteria, the Supreme Court drew a conclusion that these twins could only receive the benefits if they were able to meet the “child” definition based on intestacy. In reaching the conclusion, the Supreme Court regarded and refused to accept the position held by the Circuit that it was needless to undertake a child’s status each time the applicant is a married couple’s child. This Court stressed that interpretations like these depends on words that are not found in federal law, is consistent with Restatement and dictionary definitions of a “child”, unsuitably promotes of both marriage and biology in undertaking determination of parentage and offers no time limits on a qualifying birth of a child (Laura, 2014).
A large number of commentators have been criticizing this outcome, stressing that neither the federal nor the state law has been able to keep up with the changes occurring in the reproductive technologies. These commentators clearly make an assumption that all children conceived posthumously should be handled alike for the federal benefits’ purposes, but do not give an explanation why uniformity is required. Indeed, these critics tend to make an assumption that a law that is developed in a better way will as well be a more uniform one. However, “if the pluralism underlying federalism retains any value, then the Capato Court appropriately deferred to states’ definitions…and this general deference to states’ authority by no means anomalous when deference to state’s authority by no means anomalous when determining who counts as family” (Laura, 2014, p. 1851).
Single and LGBT parent families have to struggle in life without the support of the government on health and other aspects of life. This is because of the education, health and housing policies in place that do not consider such families. However, there are those that criticize the government for providing funds for citizens claiming that this aid weakens the family structure by removing self-reliance and creating a dependency nature among citizens. All these new ideas came about with the new age of Functionalists, who believe that welfare destroys independence. According to functionalists, these welfare donations in the form of food stamps, welfare gifts, Medicare, and housing allowances cause irresponsibility (Hogarth, 2002). A man, for instance, may abandon his responsibilities as a father if he realizes that the state is supporting the child. If, however, the man had no support, he would work hard and ensure that he gives his child all the support he or she requires. Housing provision for teens is becoming a common phenomenon in the US, which according to these people, leads to the uncontrolled teenage pregnancies. There are a number of people in the US who call upon the government to assist them, and since it does, the do not see the need to work (Hogarth, 2002). They sit back and wait for the government's assistance instead of working and making their money. However, the Functionalists do support the government's aid on the traditional family structure through tax allowances. They believe that these support systems encourage the unity of the family and hence increase responsibility among people. Child support agencies, however encourage irresponsibility by allowing a man to be absent from his child's life only to send money.
Recently, however, the government has enforced new policies in many states that are making it possible for other types of family such as single parent homes and LGBT families to partake of government favors (Kanter, 1977). Moreover, there have been changes in the adoption system making it in such a way that these people (single parents and LGBT) can adopt children. Even more recently, people cohabiting have received the right to adopt a child as well. In the past, only heterosexual couples married. The government policies have also affected these families by using various incentives to encourage adoption of children. These include the use of welfare policies and minimum wage taxation policies on families that adopt a child in order to encourage more people to do so. The policy helps in the distribution of resources among the poor orphaned children.
The recent changes in welfare and child policies have received both negative and positive reactions. The positive reactions are that these steps have led to acceptance and equality. In traditional society, a single parent and especially a single mother was considered a disgrace to the society. People misjudged these women for “cheap” and unethical for sleeping with a man she is not married to (Brotherson & Duncan, 2004). Moreover, belonging to the LGBT society was a huge embarrassment. However, with time, single mothers became more and more common and were eventually accepted in society. The latter however remained a controversial topic for a long time.
In fact, there are people today that have still not accepted the LGBT community and discriminate openly against them. As for the critics, they believe that placing a child in either a single parent or LGBT society will lead to their psychological and social defects (Hogarth, 2002). They believe that these families are dysfunctional and unnatural. Therefore, they will instill in the children whether consciously or otherwise, the dysfunctional qualities. In fact, some of them argue that these families produce juvenile delinquents through wrong exposure for the children.

States have been defining marriage, being specific as to who may qualify to have the status and establishing the terms and conditions for exit. Up to the time the “Defense of Marriage Act” or DOMA, was passed in 1996, the federal government almost entirely deferred to the determinations of states of which person was married and who was not, even for federal law’s purposes. DOMA instituted a drastic departure from such practice, propagating independent definitions of “spouse” and “marriage” for the entire federal purposes. DOMA made specification that, “in determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife” (Laura, 2014, p. 1852). In “U.S v. Windsor”, the DOMA’s constitutionality was challenged by a surviving spouse after she was not able to make claims for the federal estate tax exemption offer to surviving spouses since she had entered into marriage with another woman. The Second Circuit and district court drew a conclusion that the plaintiff was eligible as a surviving spouse under the New York law, where there has been domiciling of the couple and the husband’s death. However, although her marriage had been recognized as being valid under the state law, the living same-sex spouse was supposed to pay $363,053 in the federal estate taxes, which “a similarly situated surviving mixed-sex spouse would not have been required to pay” (Laura, 2014, p. 1853). Eventually, the Supreme Court made a ruling in favor of the surviving couple, drawing a conclusion that DOMA’s main effect in make identification of a subset of the state-sanctioned marriages cause them to be unequal, thus serving to violate the fundamental due process as well as equal principles that are applied to Federal Government. In a similar way as the Capato Court, Windsor Court didn’t explicitly have reliance on federalism in arriving at its holding. Rather, the Court eventually drew a conclusion in a 5-4 opinion that “DOMA was motivated by an improper animus or purpose” (Laura, 2014, p. 1854). Even if the Windsor Court didn’t frame the decision in made in the federalist terms, this Court had heavy reliance on the authority of the state in defining marriage (Laura, 2014, p. 1854).
The laws and policies that govern marriage tend to favor or benefit only the couples that are legally married according to the US law (Hogarth, 2002). Cohabitants and single parent families may not enjoy the benefits that the government allows to “ideal” families. For instance, the government gives them higher allowances on taxes. Moreover, when cohabiting couples go to the government in assistance in “divorce”, they have a harder time since the government does not recognize these families. The division of property during separation, therefore, becomes a nightmare for these couples, as the government tends to ignore these pleas.
The argument of functionalists on the effect of policies on families is that the state acts in favor of the society's interests and thus assists the people (Hogarth, 2002). They believe that the country use these policies to protect its citizens and assist them towards a better life. The argument is however debatable seeing that the government is more inclined towards the traditional definition of ideal families. It means that many of the resources that the government offers society only benefit such families.

Unlike a large number of foreign jurisdictions, the U.S lacks an outstanding, comprehensive code of consumer protection. The United States Consumer protection law is rather a patchwork of the state and federal laws. Such patchwork is basically a product of the United States’ federalism that undertakes allocation of sovereign powers to state as well as federal governments. However, it is as well as function of the state and federal government’s fragmentary approach to the consumer protection legislation. For that reason, consumer protection law in the U.S isn’t so much a unified law body because it is a jumble of distinct state and federal laws (Crane, Eichenseer & Glazer, 2011).
The federal consumer protection law gives a reflection of piecemeal Congressional attempts to offer protection to the consumers. Instead of enacting overarching or comprehensive consumer protection laws, Congress has been passing several distinct laws that target specific industries, consumer products, and business practices. The most important of these laws deal with deceptive or unfair business practices such as the “Federal Trade Commission Act”, drugs and food such as the “Drug, Food and Cosmetic Act”, the household goods such as the “Consumer Product Safety Act” and the financial services and products such as the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” (Crane, Eichenseer & Glazer, 2011, p. 306).
The “state consumer protection” law is found to be not any less complex. As on one hand each state has been enacting laws that prohibit deceptive or unfair business practices, on the other hand, the evolution, scope, and enforcement of such laws vary from one state to the other, in a considerable manner. Moreover, the state “common” law may provide hurt consumers an additional protection layer. The consumer protection law in the U.S is distinctive in its federalist complexity as well as reliance on the class actions (Crane, Eichenseer & Glazer, 2011).
The government applies various policies in trade in order to ensure that it achieves a desired outcome, which is to control the options of citizens. This means that government policies create barriers or limits to consumers in order to prevent an undesirable outcome. The government policies on both local and international trade play a major role in the lives of individual families' consumer habits. The major reasons for government participation in trade are to create revenue as well as to protect the consumers (Brotherson & Duncan, 2004). The taxes imposed on imports are a major source of revenue for the government. The higher the taxes on imports, the more expensive these products are once they get into the country in order to cover the cost of tax. International trade has a great impact on civilians since many countries depend on imported products to survive.
The prices of commodities are regulated by the government through the tariffs (taxes) that companies pay to import their goods as well as a producer who passes on the cost to the consumer (Kanter, 1977). Most states in the U.S regulate prices in such a way that the imports are more expensive than the local products. The reason for this is to promote local trade by “encouraging” people to use local goods rather than imported goods. This greatly affects the purchasing power of the locals hence ensuring that the vast majority purchase the local products. Moreover, the government also tries to reduce the importation of goods that are readily available as a way of eliminating competition.
The unfortunate issue about this is that the local products are often very expensive in order to keep the products in the market. This in turn becomes a burden to the consumer as they struggle to make ends meet. The policies protecting goods producers affect the consumers negatively since they are sometimes unable to make ends meet. Consequently, the government is forced to assist its citizens by giving away food stamps to help them pay for goods (Brotherson & Duncan, 2004).
The ever-increasing prices of goods and services are because of the high taxes the government demands from producers. As a result, producers overprice their goods in order to pass the cost of tax to the consumers. These policies determine the meals on a large number of Americans' tables as they can only afford a certain range of products. Additionally, the government is forced to regulate prices in order to protect consumers. Some of the areas where citizens suffer are in the case of monopolization (Brotherson & Duncan, 2004).
In years past, the government allowed monopolistic business people to determine the cost of goods and services (Brotherson & Duncan, 2004). This led to an outcry among American citizens especially at a family level. In such cases, the poor suffer most, as they cannot afford to buy even the basic commodities. The regulation of the process by the government however attempts to protect the consumers, and that means that the manufacturers must produce more goods and services. The point of doing so is to ensure that they do not incur losses per unit of production through small-scale production.
The impact of government policies in trade are felt at the family unit level. When a country does not import unnecessary items, which is items available locally, there is creation of job opportunities (Meier, 1987). As a result, the family leaders, usually the parents, can provide for their family. The availability of basic needs is crucial in a family setup as it determines the provision of all other needs whether emotional or psychological. Moreover, finances enable the parents to take their children to better schools and hence give them a chance to have a better future. The consumer behavior patterns affect his or her ability to run or manage a home properly. Circumstances such as tension and stress due to lack and want lead to great frustration in a family setup. Moreover, the parent or leader of that home is usually in a physical and emotional state that makes them insensitive to the needs of others.

The policies and legislation on families, both at federal and state level, affect each citizen of the country in terms of marriage and children welfare among other family issues. Considering the side of considering on the side of consumer protection, international trade, for instance, can determine the availability of the product to residents as well as the price of the same. If import taxes are low, the product prices will be lower making them readily affordable to citizens. On the other hand, if they are high the product becomes a luxury hence promoting local trade and market prices. Consequently, the government policies determine consumer behavior both directly and indirectly.

References
Brotherson, S. E., & Duncan, W. C. (2004). Rebinding the ties that bind: Government efforts to preserve and promote marriage. Family Relations, 53 (5), 459-468.
Hogarth, J. M. (2002). Financial Literacy and Family and Consumer Sciences. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences: From Research to Practice, 94(1), 14-28.
Kanter, R. M. (1977). Work and family in the United States: A critical review and agenda for research and policy. Russell Sage Foundation.
Laura, R. (2014). Federal Visions of Private Family Support. Vanderbilt Law Review, 67(6), 1835-1870
Meier, K. J. (1987). The political economy of consumer protection: An examination of state legislation. The Western Political Quarterly, 343-359.
Crane, E. M, Eichenseer, N. J. & Glazer, E. S. (2011). U.S. Consumer Protection Law: A Federalist Patchwork. Defense Counsel Journal, 78(3), 305-330.…...

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...Assess sociological views of the impact of government policies and laws on family life. There are many different views of how government policies and laws affect family life among different sociological theorists. Some view government policies as positive whereas some see the impact as positive. Feminists argue that many government policies promote the patriarchal family and reinforces the women’s economic dependence on a man. Policies such as tax benefits and maternity leave are seen as negative policies as they promote the ideology of women being the main childcares in a relationship. Women are entitled to 9 months maternity leave whereas men are only able to receive 2 weeks paid paternity. Consequently, this means women are forced to be the parent that stays at home to look after the child as a couple would not be able to have financial stability if the man stayed at home for 9 months without pay. The new right also do not support these policies however for different reasoning. Feminists have a negative view on policies that insinuate that they have to care for their elders, as they believe the role of a caregiver to the sick and elderly should be shared between men and women equally and should be a women’s obligation. Although feminists are against laws that enforce the inequality between men and women they support policies that allow women to be independent from a patriarchal relationship, for example the divorce reform act and working tax credits. The divorce......

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Policy Papaer

...The Policy Process Throughout this paper we are going to cover the healthcare policy process. Policies are constantly reviewed and gone over to ensure that people receive the best healthcare possible. Each one has the potential to affect each of us on a daily basis, so careful consideration must be given when policies are proposed. It is important to understand the process of how a topic eventually becomes a policy. We are going to look at the three stages that a policy goes through before it is implemented. So let us get started we have a lot to cover. Formulation Stage A national health research policy should be formulated based on the national health policy, which in turn should conform to overall national development plans. The research policy system within which health research policies are formulated, is actually very broad. Three variants have been defined for general policy, although these rarely exist in a pure form4. These variants can also be applied to the health research policy system.   * A unicentric health research policy system in which one authority (generally the government) is responsible. The result is a regulated system in which the government allocates funds and coordinates tasks. * A multicentre health research policy system, essentially a marketplace, in which many autonomous actors (research institutions and organizations) compete for the development of policy, which is attuned to the requirement of each research institution or...

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Examine the Approach and Policies of Governments Towards Families

...Examine the approach and policies of governments towards families During the period 1945-1970’s the government attempted to develop the welfare state by adopting an approach that was highly interventionist. Over the last fifty years, the state has changed considerably. It has gone from being a ‘big’ state in years between 1945 – 1970, to a state which gives minimal state support in the years between 1980 and 1990 and an enabling state from the years 1997 -2010. The welfare state is a social system whereby the state assumes primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens, as in matters of health care, education, employment, and social security. A social policy is simply a proposal or an initiative that is put into practise by a political party or a government that relates to any area of social life, and in this case the family. One policy the government introduced was the welfare state. The welfare state was introduced by Attlee’s government after their election victory in 1945, in response to the Beveridge Report of 1942. Beverigde was a British economist and social reformer who were closely associated with the development of the welfare state. The welfare state was created by the labour government to end poverty and look after everyone from the ‘cradle to grave’. The main parts of the welfare state included NHS, child benefits, job seekers allowance, and pensioners for elderly, education, state housing etc. The government’s purpose was to actively intervene......

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Examine the Ways in Which Laws and Social Policies Affect Family Life.

...Sociologist and political groups all have different views of social policies, some believe that they are a good way of achieving something and others see them as bad because they may only support one view point and not others. To start of here is the definition of a social policy; it is an action, plan or programme that the government puts in place that aims to deal with a problem or achieve a goal. These social policies are mainly based on laws, which provide the framework for agencies to follow. The first social policy that will affect the family is marriage. There are different laws in place to discourage certain behaviour inside marriages, a few examples of these would be; marriages must be monogamous where only one person can be married to one person at one time, in the UK it is illegal to marry or have children with your brother/sister but is legal to marry and have children with your first cousin, etc. Laws like these would have an effect on a family as having an affair on your partner is illegal and therefore if this happens then the marriage may breakdown and may end up in a divorce. Divorce is another social policy that will have an effect on the family. Divorce was granted legal in 1857 but it was very hard to get one up until the late 1960’s which made divorce become more popular as it was easier to declare. However, a divorce can only be granted if one of the following applies; Adultery – when one partner has a sexual relationship with another whilst in a......

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