Sunday, August 23, 2015

Childcare for workers is a social issue. For publicly funded childcare centers

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

When I was active in the union movement we used to publish an opposition newsletter that was quite widely read and had subscribers across the nation, including local unions.  As an opposition in formation we published a series of demands, issues we stood for and campaigned around. One of these demands was for free on site childcare in all public sector workplaces.  This issue was especially relevant for women back then and is as important today.

The median pay for childcare workers in 2012 was $19,510 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is half the median for all workers.  It shows what little regard the US 1% and their representatives in the two Wall Street parties have for families or children for that matter. But childcare is like health care, the rich will always have it. They have socialism, they simply object to the rest of us participating. And to think we are told to fear ISIS or some other nebulous grouping of individuals once in the pay of the US government. *

There is a real shortage of childcare facilities which is no surprise given the poverty wages and this is happening as birth rates are rising. So, as is the case in the so-called free market economy, demand is greater than supply and costs for those parents who are foolish enough to have children are rising. Child care and nursery school costs rose at an annual 4.3% in June according to Bloomberg Business Week compared to 0.1% for all consumer prices.**

The cost of childcare is the biggest problem for Millennials BW says and this is causing problems all round.  If they can’t get grandparents or other relatives to care for their children, parents are forced to do it themselves reducing purchasing power. This is of great concern to capitalists as consumer spending is some 70% of the economy. If people don’t buy things the economy doesn’t work. In capitalist terms this means profit cannot be realized. Profit is created by extracting surplus value (unpaid labor) from the worker in the process of production then realized through the sale of the commodities produced. If people are forced to cut in to their disposable income to care for their offspring they’ll buy less. Let’s not forget what the imbecile Bush said on 911, “Go shopping”.

According to census figures, the number of mothers with children under 18 that didn’t work outside the home went from 23% in 1999 to 29% by 2012 while the number of fathers staying at home almost doubled over the same period going from 1.2 million to 2 million.

One woman explains her plight in the Business Week article. “We basically had to remake our entire budget around day care” she tells BW.  She retuned to work after the child hit three months and had to put her in day care that cost $2100 a month.

BusinessWeek being a journal of the 1% the idea that the state should provide such a service is not in the cards, it would take money away from drone warfare and also take up a slot private capital could fill. State subsidies for childcare were some of the first benefits to be cut after the Great Recession hit and they haven’t returned. Downturns are good for capitalists. As Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and destroyer of public education stressed, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”. Childcare subsidies in Illinois were the first to be cut there, the article points out. Illinois is a state where parents spend an average of 16% of their income on full-time childcare.

And we’re supposed to spend every thinking moment worrying about ISIS, foreigners, immigrants from Central America who contribute a lot more to our well being than Rahm Emanuel a former IDF thug and other external enemies.

I would ask workers who have the tendency to think that the private sector, owning your own business, entrepreneurship and the so-called free market are the elements that guarantee we live a healthy prosperous life to think about that.  Firstly we only have to look around us and see that capitalism cannot even provide a decent life in the most powerful capitalist economy in history. If we work for the public sector we have a more humane workplace, more security better retirement. The same class of people that own the media and the corporations and profit from the wars our children are sent too fight bombard us day in day out with this propaganda that the private sector is the answer to all things. This is why some of us believe it even when the conditions under which we are forced to live show it to be false.

That doesn’t mean we don’t absorb some of this propaganda. If they couldn’t influence thinking, they wouldn’t spend billions a year on advertising. But in the last analysis of course, consciousness, ideas, have a material base. We can absorb it to the point that we blame ourselves for conditions that are generally beyond our individual control as opposed to them and their system, Blaming ourselves is very destructive to us as human beings. That public money should be used to provide on site childcare would give us more security, perhaps more free time. But the 1% do not like this. They want us forever insecure, constantly in fear of losing our jobs, being attacked by hordes of bees, overrun by immigrants who are escaping conditions even worse than ours caused by the same people that cut the measly social protections we have. We have to be distrustful of each other, in competition with each other at all times.

We create the wealth that we call public money; we create this social capital through our labor. We should benefit from it and decide how we use it, when and where.

We need to worry less about Iran, a nation that has invaded no one in generations and whose wealth has been plundered by British and US corporations and their managers, and more about the folks on our shores who call themselves Americans. They especially remind us that we’re all Americans when they need our kids to die to maintain their plunder and profits abroad but begrudge them care when they return physically and emotionally destroyed. That’s if they do return.

They refuse to even provide childcare unless we pay extra for it. If we can’t pay for it, “you’re on your own baby.”

We have to change this.

* Up until 1999 every Taliban official was in the pay of the US government
* *Millennials’ Biggest Problem? Day Care. Bloomberg BW 8-24-15

1 comment:

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