Discourse

Care isn't infrastructure, no matter what Biden and Mother Jones say

Many women do not want to outsource the care of loved ones to government programs primarily staffed by other women who are giving up the care of their children and parents to government programs in order to earn a paycheck.
Libby Emmons
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

The Biden administration, Mother Jones notes with glee, has "turned care into infrastructure." With social justice framing and feminist overtones about the importance of women in the workplace, the new, massive, so-called infrastructure spending bill has plans to outsource care from families to the government.

"By turning care work into infrastructure, Biden is doing something unprecedented: He’s taking women's economic plight seriously," Kara Voght writes for Mother Jones. The article was noticed by United Federation of Teachers' President Randi Weingarten, who decried the statistic of 115 percent of mothers leaving the workforce in order to care for children. Weingarten is perhaps looking forward to the increase in unionizable care workers, undoubtedly women, whose jobs will be created because of the bill.

The progressive line has been that women prioritizing care, and leaving the workforce therefore, is a problem, for working class women as well as for professional women. There has been no indication from the Democrat camp that there could be reasons, other than being subjugated by systemic sexism, that women could be the ones taking on the task of care.

"To be a woman is to accept the fate that your life," Voght writes, "at some point or another, will revolve around the care of a family member. To be a woman in the United States is to accept that you will either pay monstrous sums for that care or do it yourself—likely, at some expense to your job."

What I find particularly perplexing is why this is a bad thing, why it should be believed that there is something wrong with bearing the responsibility of care for parent or child. Are our jobs really so much more important than caring for children? Should women believe that their economic earning power is more important than caring for children or aging parents?

Many women know fully that caring for children, caring for parents, is not only more important than full-time work, but is more fulfilling, more sustaining, and more essential than any other kind of work. Many women do not want to outsource the care of their children and parents to government programs that are primarily staffed by other women who are giving up the care of their children and parents to government programs simply in order to earn a paycheck.

In defense of the spending bill, which equates child care with bridges, tunnels, and roads, Voght decries the cost of care. If a woman isn't going to submit to caring for her loved ones herself, she says, the options are slim and financially detrimental.

"The average cost of full-time infant care in the US is more than $16,000 per year," Voght writes. "That’s if it’s even available at all: Nearly half of all Americans live in 'child care deserts,' according to a 2018 analysis from the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.

"The costs of child care have grown twice as fast as overall inflation since the 1990s, causing an estimated 13 percent decline in employment among mothers with young children. That comes at a personal cost to women, 1.3 million more of whom could enter the workforce and earn a collective $130 billion across their lifetimes if the country adopted a universal child care system, according to a new study from the National Women’s Law Center and Columbia University. It also comes at a macroeconomic one: The US could see a $210.2 billion boost to GDP if child care costs were capped at 10 percent of family income, according to a study from CAP."

In these words, we find a moral imperative for society to allow women to live free of responsibilities in order to fulfill their professional and financial desires. We get the sense from Democrats, leftists, and this infrastructure bill, that the most important thing a woman can do is to fulfill her economic potential.

But is it? Is the most important, essential, fundamental thing a woman can do in life to pay strangers to care for her children and aging parents while she toils at work? Is this what most women want? Were women forced out of the workplace due to the pandemic or did they find that their responsibilities to their families was, in fact, more important than working for a paycheck?

Why is the Biden administration so insistent that women should outsource care and maintain workplace efficiency? Why does the Biden administration want the government to take responsibility for the care of our children and elders, and why would anyone think that government would give better care than families do?

The social justice narrative that has woven its way into the COVID-19 discourse that women have been too hard hit by the pandemic began with articles about women leaving the workforce to care for loved ones, and is ending with federal promises of implementing massive progressive programs to relieve women of their responsibilities to children and parents.

This past year we have seen the result of government caring for our children and parents. The government booted our kids out of school with little to no evidence as to the efficacy of that diminishing COVID-contagion and we watched our kids' mental health suffer steep declines. The government housed our aging parents in nursing homes then shut them in and allowed COVID run through them until tens of thousands of our elderly died needlessly.

The government is not fit to care for our children and parents, no matter how much tax-payer money they throw at it. When we decide that government, and not family, bears the responsibility to care for our loved ones, we diminish our own humanity. Women did not leave the workforce simply because of the pandemic, but because many of them, undoubtedly, realized what was most important. Instead of being relegated to care of loved ones, as Biden and Mother Jones believe, women prioritized care of loved ones, and we should be grateful to them for it.

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