There is such an obvious solution to the problem of crèches closed, with health care workers torn between going to their workplace and minding their children, I can’t believe I am the first to suggest it. Nationalise them (same as has been done with the private hospitals). In times of crisis the traditional Keynesian solution is to expand the state to provide jobs and increase tax. Fiscal relaxation. This now is relevant to the health care sector (hospitals and care homes), to the education sector (schools and universities), and to child care (crèches).
The refusal of the insurance companies to cover the risk of getting Covid19 when a child care worker goes into the homes of HSE staff is a useful example of why the private sector doesn’t work. Suppose the state took over crèches, regulated them and indemnified them, there is a win-win all round. The state would continue to make the Covid19 sick payment to any staff who contract the disease at work. The state would ensure regulations were enforced and the best practices possible in keeping the children and staff safe. And the state would be taking the pressure off those private crèches who can no longer afford the exorbitant insurance premiums.
By nationalising child care we would be fulfilling our promise in the Proclamation of 1916 declaring that the Irish Republic would "resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.”
It is 2020, over a hundred years later, and we must take note that our governments of the last forty years have fostered differences which have divided a minority (the wealthy) from the majority (the poor, the just about managing, the disenfranchised).
Let us seize the moment, supported by our diaspora in America, the United Kingdom, and by our gallant friends in the European Union; let us, Irishmen and Irishwomen, become a nation striking for social equality on our own strength, let us strike in full confidence of victory.
© Alison Hackett (this blog was first published in the Irish Examiner on 16 May 2020)
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