Adding Context To A UM Study About Reliable Childcare In Montana

by William Skink

Just the headline pisses me off: UM study says Montana parents struggle to find reliable childcare. Yeah, no shit. Why is a study needed to tell us this? What’s next, a study that shows people who jump in rivers get wet?

Reading the article is even more maddening, and raises a question in my mind, specifically what the hell is the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis doing funding this study? From the link:

MISSOULA, Mont. — A study by the University of Montana funded by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found that unreliable childcare in Montana has an economic impact on the millions of Montana parents, employers and taxpayers.

Missing work, turning down job offers and changing from full-time to part-time work are three problems Montana parents say they faced this past year due to unreliable childcare.

I thought the job of central banks was printing fiat currency to buy toxic assets to cover insolvent banks in order to shift the consequences of systemic corruption from Wall Street to Main Street. Little did I know they also throw money at failing universities like UM to produce gems of economic insight, like this:

The study found that households making $30,000 or less each year lost more than 10% of their income in wages due to unreliable childcare.

If parents have to leave work to take care of their child, that parent loses wages and businesses have absent employees. Sonora said the economic impact affects parents, the state and taxpayers.

“If my income goes down then I’m paying less into state and federal government in terms of tax revenue,” said Sonora. “So other taxpayers have to fill in that space.”

Ah, the sacred taxpayer. I think I’m starting to understand where this is going. And my understanding was helped by also reading how the Missoulian covered this story. Here is an excerpt from that article:

Kelly Rosenleaf, the executive director of Childcare Resources Inc. in Missoula, lamented the fact that the Republican-controlled state Legislature and Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock were not able to find a way to permanently fund pre-kindergarten education in the past session. Montana is one of only a handful of states without publicly-funded “pre-K” education programs.

So, to summarize, the central bank gave the university money to study the economic impacts of unreliable childcare because our Republican legislature didn’t pass our Democratic Governor’s top goal of funding pre-k last session, which ultimately leads to a situation where other taxpayers have to fill the space.

This study SHOULD help make the case that funding pre-k for Montanans makes sense from a fiscally conservative standpoint. Once upon a time I thought making fiscally conservative arguments would make a difference for critical programs, like, for example, Medicaid. But I was wrong.

Conservatives in Montana don’t actually believe in fiscal conservative principles, which was crystal clear during the 2019 session when these assholes talked about drug testing Medicaid recipients. When Scott Sales says he wants to make Medicaid “more affordable for the taxpayer” he us utterly full of shit. From the link (my emphasis):

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, a vocal advocate of the program, is asking the Legislature to extend Medicaid expansion in its current form, including the state’s approximate $60 million-a-year share of the cost. The federal government covers the remainder.

But leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature say if they agree to extend the program, it will come with some changes.

“That program needs to be more affordable for the taxpayers,” says Senate President Scott Sales (R-Bozeman) who voted against the initial approval of Medicaid expansion in 2015. “I believe it needs to have a lot more sideboards put on.”

Some of those “sideboards,” or additional requirements for those getting coverage from the program, could be an asset test, work requirements or a drug test, Sales told MTN News.

The hard-on conservatives have for spending tax money on drug testing is one of the more stupid and fiscally irresponsible things they seem to constantly support. Who cares if spending over $200,000 only caught about 300 nefarious drug users? From the link:

Thirteen states spent more than $200,000 screening federal-aid applicants for drugs last year. Only 338 people tested positive, according to data gathered by ThinkProgress.

In total, the states required more than 260,000 people to submit to drug screening or testing as a condition of receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which provides cash assistance to low-income people. In some states, not one person tested positive.

With this context in mind, I’m going to make a prediction. Next year, during our legislative session, I expect Democrats will once again try to fund pre-k in Montana, and Republicans will once again be the assholes who ignore the beneficial economic impacts. As always, those who are struggling will continue to struggle, and those who are vulnerable will pay the price.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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2 Responses to Adding Context To A UM Study About Reliable Childcare In Montana

  1. Tim A says:

    Well I’m a conservative so I guess I will argue the other side…
    Let’s just say each of those people who were screened off public assistance received something like $1,000 a month, for 10 years. 338 x 1k x 12 x 10 = $4,056,000. So we might have saved $4 million by spending $220,000.

    I think the conservative position as long as I have been around is that kids do better raised by their parents than strangers (pre-school, K-12, daycare). The capitalist or corporatist position is that kids are better raised by people paid to be around them, not conservatives. This is one of the major areas Republicans have disagreement since conservatives would put families over money and corporatists/capitalists would put profit over the family unit. Ditto with drugs. Conservatives generally belief drugs are a net harm to society and that if people use drugs they should be self-sufficient instead of seeking other people’s money to support themselves.

    You should also really look into pre-K, although my sense if you seem to believe in it more for the benefits of the childcare than education. Almost every legit study I’ve seen on pre-K finds that it works well for higher income parents because they have the money to be involved in their child’s education and lower income children just get another year of government babysitting.

    My dad didn’t finish high school but he supported a family of 4 working at the saw mill in Seeley. Legitimately 70% of mill jobs are gone now because they’ve been sued into oblivion by the left over muh environment. Just this year in my business we’ve already faced double and tripling of lumber prices, while Idaho has GOP in power and many more mills and better economy. Instead we sit here and let it burn in the name of Pagan wilderness beliefs ala “public lands.” 30 years later I have two bachelors and working on Masters degree and am basically unemployable since we’ve completely restructured our education system to funnel kids into the prolonged adolescence of college instead of into real life where skills help you earn more money.

    I feel your pain man but I think your anger is misdirected. Personally I think brainwashing women into thinking they are more useful as secretaries and fast food workers while they are empowered by killing their own children before birth is a bit twisted to me. The solution here is not more government provided shit, but a move back towards providing living wage jobs with benefits so we can focus on keeping the nuclear family stable. FYI conservatives were the last people wanting families ripped apart so we could be gender-equal as minimum wage slaves while Big Brother teaches our children. That is the corporatists in both parties, not conservatives.

    • I’m being critical of the fiscal conservative mantra as it relates to drug testing because it’s one way I’ve seen, up close, the preference to waste taxpayer money on a social disease. if you kick people off Medicaid after growing government to so it has the capacity to test them, and they lose the case manager that Medicaid paid for, and they end up in jail (a scenario I have seen play out in real life over and over again), then the money you think you are saving is actually being spent on prisons instead. support services are cheaper, thus MORE FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE than incarceration.

      some of the other points you make I don’t necessarily disagree with, but the class war waged by corporatists/capitalists has captured both parties, and all the social misery is the result. conservatives need to realize that about the Republican party, and liberals need to realize that about Democratic party.

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