Breadwinning makes no sense without caregiving. Someone must transform income into the food, shelter, clothing, nurture, discipline, education, minding, nursing, transportation, and emotional support that creates life outside of the office, permits survival of the race, cares for the ill and disabled, and makes life livable when we can no longer care for ourselves. Yet the United States lags behind almost all other industrialized countries in providing the goods, services, and incentives that make it possible for women and men to be caregivers as well as breadwinners. What mothers need, as well as fathers, spouses, and the children of aging parents, is an entire national infrastructure of care, every bit as important as the physical infrastructure of roads, bridges, tunnels, broadband, parks and public works.
What are the elements of an infrastructure of care? Let's start at the beginning of life and work our way toward the end. According to Save the Children, an estimated 11,300 babies die on their first day of life in the United States, a number that is 50 per cent more first-day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined. All the EU countries together have 1 million more births each year than the U.S. does, but only about half as many first-day deaths. Reducing first-day deaths, the riskiest day of a baby's life, is hardly rocket science. Basic procedures such as steroid injections for women in preterm labor, resuscitation devices for babies who do not breathe at birth, cleaning solution to prevent umbilical cord infections, and injectable antibiotics to treat newborn sepsis and pneumonia can dramatically cut death rates. Death rates of roughly 30 newborns a day in one of the richest countries in the world is simply shameful.