By Mike Tront
Whether it’s Trump wanting the government to build a massive wall, or Bernie wanting free college for all, or Hillary wanting to expand the warfare state, there’s plenty of big government programs being proposed this election cycle. There’s one, however, that’s not getting much press. But it could have a huge impact on our lives. It’s Hillary’s plan to take over your daycare. From her campaign site:
Significantly increase child care investments so that no family in America has to pay more than 10 percent of its income to afford high-quality child care.
Hillary will fight for every family in America to have access to high quality, affordable child care by significantly increasing the federal government’s investment in child care subsidies and providing tax relief for the cost of child care to working families.
It sounds simple and appears fairly non-intrusive. If you’re a financially struggling family, she’s basically proposing that you and/or your daycare get an extra tax credit. Who can object to that?
Like all government programs, however, once you give an inch they take 100 miles. Then they take 10 more miles every year after that. Eventually, we end up with something that is unbelievably more expensive than what we had before and with much lower quality.
What Happens to the Daycare Workers?
In addition to making daycare cheap again, Clinton also wants to raise the wages of daycare workers. Who is going to pay for that? Taxpayer subsidies, of course! Again from her campaign site:
To increase the quality of child care in America and pay child care workers for the true value of their work, Hillary will create the Respect and Increased Salaries for Early Childhood Educators (RAISE) initiative. In line with Clinton’s Care Workers Initiative, RAISE will fund and support states and local communities that work to increase the compensation of child care providers
The idea is that with higher wages, better quality workers will be attracted to the daycare profession and those currently employed will have their wages increased. But that’s a huge contradiction. If the goal is to increase the quality of daycare professionals by increasing their wages, doesn’t that also mean that the current people employed in daycare are not good enough? Won’t they lose their jobs? If you want to increase their wages, how will getting them fired help?
All of this is leading to the inevitable government takeover of daycare. The government won’t just simply send money to various independent daycares, no strings attached. In order for a daycare to qualify for their worker subsidies, and in order for the parents to claim their daycare voucher or tax subsidy, they’ll have to sent their kids to specific, federal approved daycares. After all, how else is the government supposed to make sure people aren’t just claiming fake daycares on their taxes?
These new federally approved daycares will be like any federally regulated industry. The cost of complying with the new regulations will put many smaller, family run daycares out of business. Only the larger ones will survive. With less competition and less customizing available from local, small independent daycares, prices will go up and quality will go down.
Even more scary, this may eventually start to look like the public school system. With taxpayers footing the bill, the price of daycare will skyrocket. Just like colleges started raising their fees as more federal money started flowing their way, daycare fees will rise too. As politicians get angry about daycares gouging the taxpayer, they will demand action. Will this action involve getting the government out of the daycare industry? Ha! They will demand that daycares become totally paid for and ran by government so they can control the costs.
This will get passed by promising voters that daycare will now be free, or extremely low cost. Every neighborhood will have their own government run daycare, just like they have their own schools. Of course, with no competition and a centralized bureaucracy planning it all, costs will only go up further! Since workers will not be able to be fired and there’s no competition for parents to go to, quality will get worse and worse.
Unless you’re rich. Wealthy people will be completely out of this system. Wealthy people will be able to afford to sent their kids to private daycares or have in-home nannies. They’ll have the benefit of choice and competition. And just like private schools today, these options will actually end up costing less than what the government will spend per child for their free services!
Am I crazy? Am I reading too much into this seemingly simple proposal to make childcare more affordable? Maybe Hillary Clinton doesn’t have some grand conspiracy to have government completely take over child care as I’ve described above. It really doesn’t matter if she intends this or not. The law of unintended consequences always gets its way. The economic incentives for a government bureaucracy to take over childcare is too great to ignore. The only way to stop it is to keep this Pandora’s Box of government subsidized child care closed.
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