Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
“I had a job teaching at a law school in Houston when the babysitter quit. Over the next few months I tried all sorts of child care options: another babysitter, a neighbor with kids, and a couple of daycare centers,” Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote, introducing her Universal Child Care plan. “One day I picked up my son Alex from daycare and found that he had been left in a dirty diaper for who knows how long. I was upset with the daycare but, more than anything, angry with myself for failing my baby.”
Then her Aunt Bee came to her rescue by arriving and helping out with the baby. And Warren concludes, “Not everyone is lucky enough to have an Aunt Bee of their own.”
Then, as usual, misses her own point, and announces her plan for universal government child care.
Universal government child care would just be the same daycare that left Alex in a dirty diaper and left her in tears. Allegedly. (Any personal story that Warren tells has to be viewed with suspicion.) As a law professor, Warren could afford a good daycare center. Government daycare facilities are much worse.
Here’s a sample of headlines from New York City which has universal 3-K, “Father Grieves His Toddler Son Beaten to Death at NYC Day Care Center with Numerous Violations”, “Health Code Violations Common at NYC Day Care Centers”, and “Woman Seen Kicking Child at Brooklyn Day Care Center.”
That’s what Warren’s universal child care would look like. Children being beaten and kicked by the foot soldiers drafted to provide the latest universal benefit. There’s no government substitute for Aunt Bee.
After our child was born, we had our own Aunt Bee. Her name is Auntie Barbara.
Our new baby’s grandma stayed with us overnight on our first night home from the hospital. She came back countless nights to walk us through the hardest parts of caring for a new baby. When she couldn’t be there in person, she was on the phone. Her grandpa came and held her in his arms through meals and dinners. And Auntie Barbara also came night after night to hold her and soothe her.
Warren is right. Not everyone is lucky enough to have an Aunt Bee or Barbara. The question is why.
A new study from the Institute for Family Studies notes that California’s upper classes enjoy the benefits of a family structure that the culture they promote rejects. “When it comes to their own families, California elites with kids overwhelmingly ‘live right’ in private, giving their children the benefit of growing up in a two-parent family. In fact, this pattern of talking left and living right plays out at the neighborhood level in the Golden State as well. It turns out that some of the most elite neighborhoods in the state—including several in Hollywood and San Francisco—have virtually no single parents.”
That’s true, not only in California, but around the country.
In Coming Apart, Charles Murray documented the gap in social values between the working class and the upper class. Marriage had become an asset for wealthier groups while declining in poorer areas.
The disintegration of the two-parent family has gotten more attention than the similar collapse of the extended family. Warren not only had the support of her husband, but of her extended family. These days she has the support of the sort of media publications who write explainers about how to argue with more conservative members of the extended family over Thanksgiving. And break up the family.
The disintegration of communities, of the extended family, and finally the family, ushered in the social problems of the modern age. And the ability to create communities is at the heart of social stability.
There can be no sustained prosperity without community.
The welfare state is a poor replacement for a community whose members know and support each other. Government child care is an even worse replacement for Aunt Bee. And no amount of government services can replace a two-parent family. The missing X factor are the values.
The difference between Aunt Bee and a daycare worker kicking one of the children in her care is values.
Government entitlements are abstract legal moralizing that are very different than a personal sense of obligation. It’s the difference between caring and not caring. Charity and morality are not just jobs. Progressives have declared wars on hunger and poverty. But the soldiers fighting those wars are as indifferent to their outcomes as the armies of any empire fighting for a cause they don’t believe in.
You can’t mass produce a generation of children. There’s no collective solution to personal problems.
The war on child care will be fought and lost by the same forces that lost the war on poverty. It will be implemented along the same lines as the failed public education system. The soldiers will be recent immigrants working in the basements of daycare centers with too many kids and too many regulations. The quality standards won’t be met and every attempt to tighten them will just make things worse.
Warren and her colleagues have failed to understand that you can’t collectivize Aunt Bee.
What most people miss about the Left is that its elites have built successful communities. Its members are often the products of inherited wealth. They succeed because of strong family structures. As adults, they integrate into communities, social, academic, and cultural, that pursue the same goals.
These goals include breaking up traditional and conservative communities by undermining their structures and their values. And then offering to replace them with government services.
We often say that the Left has undermined the structure of the family. It’s more accurate to say that it undermined the structure of other people’s families. Just as it has shredded the values on which traditional community structures were based. The decline of traditional families and communities allowed the Left to grow stronger by building up the power of its own communities and families.
What the Left set out to do was to destroy the social stability of the working class, undermining its communities, its families, and its values. Only by bringing down the working class from its Eisenhower stability, could it advance its radical program for seizing power and transforming the country.
The America of broken families and shattered communities, of drug epidemics, lost industries, absent jobs, political extremism, religious decline, and loss of faith in everything is the triumph of the radicals.
But this is only part of the picture.
The other part is a Left that has built up its economic niches into industries, creating rewarding jobs for its own class, whether in the government sector, the non-profit sector, or cultural industries. While shattering traditional communities by destroying their economies and values, it has built up its own communities along the lines of its economic programs and its own cultural and social values.
This new system has been funded by managing the traditional communities they have destroyed.
There is a term for it. Colonialism.
America’s traditional values, its communities and its economy were shattered and then colonized. Lefties want to live in these colonies in the nation that they broke while denying them to everyone else.
The Left does not want to live in the world it made for everyone else. Senator Warren wanted Aunt Bee. Not the daycare center she’s pitching to others. Lefties like Warren want the two-parent family and the extended family. They want rewarding careers and a supportive community based around their values.
They want to monopolize the power of family while denying it to everyone else.
The family bonus is an incredible financial force multiplier. The progressive solution of running everyone through college while offering them and everyone else government freebies has failed miserably.
A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis noted that, “the average Black bachelor’s degree family with a head born between 1970 and 1989 had no more wealth than the average Black nongraduate family with a head born in the same decade”. Instead, “Whites are the only racial or ethnic group born in the 1980s for whom a bachelor’s degree provides a family with a reliable wealth advantage over comparable nongraduate families—albeit one that is much smaller than those enjoyed by earlier cohorts of college graduates.” Income doesn’t necessarily mean wealth.
The social stability provided by family and community transforms wealth into income. The decline in the college wealth premium reflects the universalization of higher education and the decline of the qualities that made it possible to lock in the advantages an increased income. Higher income without stability doesn’t lead to greater wealth, but to greater debt. And that holds back individuals and the economy.
Forget, “It’s The Economy, Stupid”. It’s The Family, Stupid.
Without familial stability, the country’s economy is doomed. It doesn’t matter how many jobs are officially created or what initiatives are announced. Wealth and productivity can’t be carried forward by collective policies, but only by individual choices. That’s as true of all of life as it is of child care.
The family is the basis for all human productivity. When the family is undermined, productivity will not be sustained even when it’s aided by technological innovation and revolutionary scientific discoveries.
Government can give people benefits, but not a sense of purpose. Family does that.