As Sarah Jones discusses here, the GOP vision of America is just…nothing basically. There’s just no human values here at all.
Someone has to care for your children, your parents, and someday, you. Absent this person, who steps in? A relative, maybe, if they’ve got the time. Otherwise you’re on your own, left to sort out the burden of care with whatever resources you possess. Should those resources be plentiful, you’ll be fine. If they aren’t, you’re in trouble. You’ll have to leave work to care for your children. Your parents will depend entirely on you. And as you age, no one will be there to nurse you.
That fate is already reality for thousands of Americans who lack the means to afford child care or nursing care in their homes. President Biden’s new $3 trillion infrastructure plan takes some steps toward relief. It allocates new public funding to care work and child-care facilities. The plan is far from perfect: Some argue it doesn’t do enough to raise wages for child-care workers. But it contains a suggestion that is radical by American standards: Care work is infrastructure, as necessary as a road or a bridge.
Republicans disagree. On CNBC, Senator Shelley Capito of West Virginia said she wants a different kind of infrastructure plan, something that doesn’t fund “home-health aides and school buildings and all of these kinds of things.” Her colleague, Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, tweeted that the Biden plan “is about anything but infrastructure.”
The Washington Post reports that a group of Republican senators, including Capito, are working on their own bill, which would “narrow their focus” to “traditional” infrastructure, without the corporate tax increase Biden had proposed to pay for it. Ignore, for a moment, Capito’s assertion that school construction is somehow not infrastructure: Care work, too, is infrastructure, as many left-wing economists, organizers, and advocates have argued for years. Republicans seem to believe that physical infrastructure simply appears, as if a giant hand descends from the sky and builds a road by itself. Construction isn’t sorcery — people have to build things, and those people need other people to care for their children, teach them, and look after relatives while they’re building that road. There is no giant hand. There are no robots, either. Workers are human beings, with human requirements. Society cannot function without care work or the laborers who perform it. A collective good, care work is a collective responsibility too. The only question remaining is the law. Will it pay for care work, or not?
The literal definition of infrastructure for Republicans is having some sweet roads, preferably privately run for profit, so that they can drive fast in their big trucks and roll coal on Democrats and their silly little electric vehicles. It’s all culture war, including taking care of your elderly parents or babies. Party of life baby!