Friday, December 30, 2011

Two Things I Never Knew Before: Eldercare, and New York Water

Both old news, but not to me:

  • A number of states--maybe thirty?--have laws that oblige children in one way or another to pay for the care of their aged or infirm parents.  Google "filial responsibility laws."   I had thought the number was like, you know, maybe zero.

    From what I read, it looks to me like a lot of these have been on the books for a long time, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's more action in the arena as public agencies look harder for new ways to stick someone with the bill.

    Came to my attention concerning the status of this sort of claim in bankruptcy.  As you may know, debts for spousal and child support are not dischaegeable in bankruptcy.  But there doesn't seem to  be any provision for thesse "filial obligations." So the past debt might go away in a bankruptcy case.  Of course, the post-bankruptcy "continuing obligation" would continue in any case.  Make me remember the old days when I taught the law school's Contracts class, including those cases that explore the responsibility (if any) of parents to take care of their adult children, or vice versa.  As I recall, the notion that they might actually bear an obligation, legal  or otherwise, to support their parents, was enough to snap their suspenders (private note to my kids and grandkids: not to worry, things are just fine--for now).

  • New York City has its famously clean water because it bought off the competition.  Specifically, they paid (or pay) upstream communities not to build in ways that would taint the water, and they're happy to do so because it is cheaper than building a purification plant.

    So for once we fined a win-win, positive-some,  Pareto-enhancing deal of a sort that you're supposed to find just everywhere, but which so often seem just to disappear around the corner.  Apparently New Yorkers can thank a dispossessed Georgian nobleman, described in his New York Times obit today as a "supercitizen.

    In the same vein, I've always indulged an impulse to wry amusement from the notion that I discovered bottled water in Rome, home of the Trevi fountain and the city where the water system may be the one public service that actually works.  

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