- Stories from Strapped: College Education
- Stories from Strapped: Paycheck
- Stories from Strapped: Debt
- Stories from Strapped: Housing
Chapter 5 in Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead by Tamara Draut is And Baby Makes Broke. Basically the author says the younger generation can’t get ahead because child care costs too much.
For a change, I’m going to keep my comments to the minimum this time. I will present the stories and give you a chance to chime in. The first story:
After Renee had her baby son Ben, she and her husband divorced. Her employer only gave her unpaid maternity leave. She got help from welfare, food stamps, and WIC. For one reason or another, the family child care providers Renee found didn’t work out as well as she liked. After a raise and a state budget cut, she lost some child care subsidy from the state. She’d like to put Ben in a formal child care center, but she can’t afford the price.
Robin and Jack (from the last chapter) send their son David to a Montessori child care center which costs them $1,300 a month. The center has two teachers for every four children. Because there is high demand for good quality child care, they had to wait a long time before a slot opened up for their son.
Now we know why a couple making $160,000 a year live paycheck to paycheck when they have a $2,500/month mortgage payment. The third story:
Carolyn and Ryan, a teacher and a police officer, were happy with their child care provider until Carolyn got a new job at the opposite end of the town. They visited many child care centers but none met their requirements. When their older son reached three, they also had a hard time finding a good preschool they liked. They finally found one but it cost them total $1,280 a month for preschool for one son and toddler care for another. They had to cut back their retirement savings in order to afford it.
Ms. Draut recommends that the federal and state governments provide paid parental leave for 6 months and universal child care for age 0-5. That sounds good if nobody has to pay but everybody knows that’s not possible. So I have a question. If the younger generation as a whole will receive a net benefit of paid parental leave and age 0-5 child care, that only means the two older generations above them will have to pay because money doesn’t grow on trees. At the same time, the younger generation is paying Social Security and Medicare tax which goes to the older generations’ retirement and post-retirement health care. Shouldn’t we just cut the Social Security and Medicare tax rates and call it even?
Life would be a lot simpler if money were of no object. Then we would all be able to get what we want. What is the proper role of government, if we decide we are not going down the path of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”?