What is infrastructure? It’s the current $200 billion question. As the Biden Administration endeavors to put people back to work it’s another point that fellow caregivers have been struggling with, especially through the pandemic: what about childcare?
Remote school. In-person school. Hybrid school. It’s enough to make caretakers want to quit. Oh wait, that’s what many of them have done. The inconsistent changes in school and the erratic schedules have made it so difficult for parents to coordinate between their children’s pickups and drop-offs and help log in and off that many have been forced to quit their jobs.
How do we expect mothers and fathers to get back to work when we don’t have viable childcare available? Anne-Marie Slaughter penned this opinion for The New York Times in which she advocates for including childcare and care facilities for elderly and disabled people in infrastructure. During World War II the government passed legislation to build over 3,000 federally subsidized daycare centers. Why? So that Rosie could take up the jobs in the factory to support the war effort.
If Rosie had to be riveting, someone needed to take care of the children.
Why is it any different now? Were we not just in dire economic and social crises that are still ongoing? The lack of connection to good bottom lines for the business and supporting families is still incredibly frustrating. As has been mentioned several times already, if this was a moral imperative it would have been solved by now. If you can’t see it as a morality issue then surely you can see it as good business.
Let’s also bring forward a point that Ms. Slaughter mentions: career feminism has long taken place over care feminism. One thing we are not here for is shaming any woman for her choice to raise a family or not or work while she does or not. The entire point of feminism is that we all have choice. ALL OF US. One is not better than the other and structures have been put in place to make it seem like we have to choose. Hera is here to tell you that you don’t.
The disconnect between our “workers” as also humans with outside interests and families creates more of a disadvantage for the economy than we give credit. If we saw our employees as whole people who would perform better if they weren’t stressed about getting their mother to her vaccination appointment but not having any time off available or picking up their son from daycare that closed early, the output would be incredible.
As easy as it is to think of infrastructure as tangible buildings and roads, which are clearly necessary, we also need to think of the people and skills required to support the stabilization of society. If the workers are essential, why aren’t the programs? Caretakers want to go back to work as well but on their terms. We almost don’t even have a choice right now. As Ms. Slaughter eloquently suggests, let’s reconsider “lefty social programs” as what they really are: critical infrastructure needed to get us back to a fair and stable society.