Friday, December 16, 2022

What our choices mean

 This is not an attack on the United States or our people. What I am trying to point out, is that our system of economics and politics lead to odd choices. Nearly all seem to be choices of (nearly) unfettered capitalism versus common good. And many of our choices have changed over time.

This headline kind of sums up the choices we have made.

If you read the article, it talks about that part of the child care system that is "working". In this case working means making a profit. And the part of child care that is working is the part at the top of the economic ladder. Day care from these companies, which are very upscale, runs from $40,000 to $45,000 a year. Almost $2,000 a month.

Child care in the middle-class or poorer segments of our population are severely limited. Often either much less supervision per child, or other local friends and family one may or may not pay. Costs and limits on location mean that these workers - who often need two incomes - face impossible choices.

And these providers lobby Congress with millions of dollars to lower barriers to their business and raise barriers to other, lower cost, solutions.

This isn't a bug, it is a feature of our current system. Our country values profit over people. It is not a complaint or accusation, it is just a fact.

Childcare in other countries is subsidized by the state. Which sounds anti-capitalist, but it actually allows a higher percentage of people to be in the workforce. 

We don't have national health care, we have private hospitals and drug companies. This has lead to some of the best care in the world. But it comes at the cost of basic health care for middle class and poorer people who cannot afford it.

Our education system does not value children enough to pay teachers a comparable wage to those adults and college grads make at for profit companies. In fact, we use the saying often that "those that can't do, teach". It devalues our education and educators. 

And this is a choice that (mainly) boomers made. When I was young, my parents (boomer-ish) and the public at larger valued education as a way to increase knowledge and allow upward mobility. But once they and their children (me) were done with school, public support and funds began to dry up. College tuitions have increased 10 fold at public universities

Our system has decided that educating poorer people isn't worth it. The worse the poorer did on standardized tests, the less money we are willing to spend. 

Our police are paid from local states and taxes. This leads to ticketing for profit. When a policeman is judged by the amount of fines  they generate, or by the number of tickets written, there is a push for more money generated. And in many places that usually means a crackdown in middle class, poorer and less influential people. Rich people are more likely to be let off with a warning and more likely to have charges dropped.

Our homeless problem is without equal in the high income countries. We have decided to let hundreds of thousand people, often veterans with PTSD or mentally ill, fall through cracks in our system. And we choose to let it happen. There ARE solutions, Salt Lake City has shown the way here, but we choose to lower our taxes and let these people live on the streets - hopefully out of sight.

Like I said, this isn't a complaint, it is an observation. We value profit more than children, medical care, or equality under the law. If we want to change our country's choices ... we can't. All that profit leads to much of it being transferred to politicians via lobbyists.

It is very much this cartoon.

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