The government child care “disaster”
One of the original planks in the president’s Titanic-sized Build Back Better proposal was to get government directly, and deeply, involved in providing child care. On the surface, it seemed like a pleasant notion: make caring for kids more affordable, more accessible, and of higher quality.
Such is the rationale for every government initiative. But as Cato’s Ryan Bourne writes, the child care idea is a “disaster”:
Western governments are tangling themselves up in contradictions as the state has gotten more heavily involved with childcare. Politicians can’t decide whether the problem they want to solve is childcare being too expensive, not enough parents entering the formal labor force, or supposed “poor quality” care hindering child development.
Targeting any one of these goals brings obvious trade-offs with the other objectives, but an unwillingness to confront these contradictions has seen a policy devised that would:
make childcare more expensive;
push parents towards using more formal care that might not best suit their needs or wants;
and create new disincentives against working.
Bourne says the inevitable result is even more government interference in the market:
…offering subsidies with the quid pro quo of choking supply through all sorts of ongoing restrictions to shape the market in a particular image. And because of the unwillingness to address the contradictions in aims, I suspect implementing this program would be a one-way street to, in time, an even fuller government takeover of this important economic and social area of life.
Rinse and repeat…and then listen to some who wonder why all that government involvement hasn’t improved conditions a bit.