“Life after a Green New Deal would be a world of free healthcare and childcare, cheap and beautiful public housing, first-class public transport infrastructure, well-funded arts programs and ample leisure time.” Clare Hymer, Novara Media
The Green New Deal: creating the care infrastructure for a just transition
What do Medicare for All, universal child care, child care subsidies for low income households (HB 2348) and paid family and medical leave (HB 2005-3) have to do with climate policy? They represent parts of the ‘care infrastructure’ we need to allow people to live with dignity now, survive climate change tomorrow, and fully decarbonize our society over the next ten years.
As the Pacific NW climate movement takes aim at fossil fuel projects, many advocate a just transition for workers who would no longer build LNG plants and pipelines, but instead would install solar panels or build high speed rail lines. But being able to build green infrastructure requires a scaffold of care: someone to take care of the kids while you’re at work, the time off you need to help your father, health care you can afford.
That scaffold is largely missing in the US. Among OECD countries, the US is second to last, just ahead of Turkey, in public spending specifically aimed to benefit families and children. Consequently, in the US, the net child care costs of a couple earning minimum wage amount to 65% of household income. For a lone parent, it’s much worse.
In the home, US women do the majority of care giving and housekeeping tasks. With paid labor, household labor, and emotional labor, women do a triple shift. Across society, the absence of a care infrastructure weighs disproportionately on women, indigenous, Black, and people of color. Indeed, the failure to dedicate spending toward family benefits in this country sends younger, lower income households with children toward poverty.