By Alex Reyes
Returning home after my American history class, I turned on the television and watched
MSNBC’s coverage of Boston’s public remembrance of the tragedy that occurred on April 15,
MSNBC news talk show host Joy Reid was interviewing Chris Jansing, host of the network’s “Jansing & Company,” in the minutes before the ceremony. Reid told viewers that Jansing had broadcast one or more of her shows from Boston in the days after two bombs were allegedly placed and set off by brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsaernev that killed four people, critically injured 14 and injured 250 others near the finish line of last year’s Boston Marathon race.
I heard Jansing say that the American people came together in a profound way in the days after the Boston attack. Jansing said the American people had shown the same gathering of spirit in the past and, from her perspective, American attention and support turned to Boston.
Hearing what Jansing said made me feel good about the rest of my fellow American citizens: Americans contribute great sums of money every year to charitable organizations dedicated to promoting the “general Welfare,” as per the social goal listed in the Preamble to the United States Constitution, and help each other out in many other ways.
When the crowd silenced and the bells of Old South Church began to ring in memory of the victims who had died one year ago, I felt solidarity with my fellow citizens. I stood at attention and looked at the image of the bell tower on my screen.
Then the subject of child care in America was introduced. I heard a guest say “We actually pay the people who care for our lawns more than we do the people who care for our children,” and I began to think about the value American people place in the well being of their own children and families.
The segment began with MSNBC “The Cycle” host Krystal Ball citing a fall 2013 survey conducted by Child Care Aware America, a national organization that describes itself as working “with state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) and other community partners to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care.”
According to an April 9 Washington Post online article about the survey, “the annual cost of daycare for an infant exceeds the average cost of in-state tuition and fees at public colleges in 31 states.” In California, annual day care costs $12,068, while in-state tuition is $9,368.
“The sad thing is it’s not because we pay our child care workers so much,” guest Stephanie Coontz said. Coontz, who is the director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, another nonprofit organization focused on family issues, then delivered her “we pay more to mow our lawns than we do child care workers” line.
An MSNBC graphic linked the cost of daycare to another troubling social trend: After a 30-year decline in stay-at-home mothers (49 percent in 1967, 23 percent in 1997), 29 percent of mothers have returned to the role of full-time homemakers.
Social conservatives surely must love that bit of news, forever hoping to return American society to the “good old days.” But as today’s financial reality means that both parents in families with children must work, in many cases, to simply survive, parents not working because they cannot afford to pay the cost of child care is not a social trend to cheer.
By the end of an hour that began with bells tolling for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, I found myself wondering how many City College students struggle to pay for both their education and their children’s well being, and how many former students have had to suspend their own education because they cannot afford to pay for both?
Despite our best intentions, “we, the people” have crafted a society of deep financial inequity.
The bells of Old South Church rang for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, but they could have been ringing for all of those Americans who struggle to survive day by day.