How to fix the child care crisis

In “Moby Dick,” Herman Melville describes “thousands on thousands” of hungry sharks pulling at the flesh of the whale carcass being towed by the Pequod, gradually reducing it to nothing. “How at such an apparently unassailable surface, they contrive to gouge out such symmetrical mouthfuls, remains a part of the universal problem of all things.”

An apt analogy may be drawn to working-class Midwesterners, even those who have never set sail: You are the carcass, and you will be eaten. Every dollar you make will be consumed by creatures with limitless appetites, leaving nothing — or less. That way, you’ll have to continue to work. And, you’ll work until your carcass is all used up and nothing is left but bones. Perhaps the bones will be consumed, too.

A particularly gruesome set of jaws tugging at us is that of basic child care. Child care is so expensive here that parents often can’t get the flesh on their bones in the first place. Americans spend about 23 percent of their annual net income on child care — twice what the rest of the world spends. In Kentucky, the average yearly expenditure for one child is over $6,000. In Indiana, it’s almost $9,000 — more expensive than in Florida and Hawaii.

Read More ›