Unpaid Labor Is Work, Contrary To What This Senator Believes

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 
Scary Mommy and Drew Angere/Getty

This year, many struggling families were able to find some financial relief in the form of the expanded Child Tax Credit. These small monthly payments have been beneficial for families as they’ve dealt with the ramifications of the Covid pandemic. Currently, the plan was only to have the child tax credit exist this year because of Covid. But, there’s a chance that the expansion can continue. President Biden has included the child tax credit in his 3.5 trillion dollar reconciliation package. Many Democrats are on board. But there are some prominent members of the party who want to put stipulations on the money.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin believes that there should be a work requirement for any families who want to receive the child tax credit going forward. That begs the question: what happens to those who provide unpaid labor? You know, the stay at home parents (mostly moms) who may not have a taxable income, but are sure as fuck working inside their homes? For someone who claims to be a Democrat, Sen. Manchin sure sounds like one of those Republicans who thinks that liberals are too easy on people.

“There’s no work requirements whatsoever. There’s no education requirements whatsoever for better skill sets. Don’t you think, if we’re going to help the children, that the people should make some effort?” Sen. Manchin asked Dana Bash on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ Hold the fucking phone for a second.

Excuse me, Senator Manchin, but I would like to have a word about who the fuck you think parents and caregivers are, and why you feel these stipulations are necessary. Do you mean to tell me that you think there needs to be an education requirement to get money to help you care for your family? If a parent only has a high school level education and is working their butt off to take care of their young children, what are they supposed to do? When would you like that parent to get this education you’d like to require? Because they’re already working 40 hours a week on top of 24 hours of being a parent. Are you suggesting they get an education that will put them further into debt to get a paltry few thousand dollars? Seriously?

Why Joe, explain to me how that makes any sense. What does your level of education have to do with your ability to have and raise children? And how would adding that requirement help the people who need it the most? Families are living in poverty, and you want to tell them that they don’t have a high enough education level to be able to help keep the fucking lights on? Make it make sense, I’m begging you.


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People living in poverty do not have the time or the means to jump through Sen. Manchin’s hoops to get their extra $250/$300 every month. If a mother working at McDonalds for 40 hours a week is making $15 an hour (if she’s lucky,) where is she getting the money to also pay for community college classes? She probably wouldn’t even qualify for a student loan, even if she had the resources to be able to go back to school. Who is going to take care of her kids, because she works during school hours to make sure she can pick her kids up.

Thankfully the older ones can stay in an after school program, but she pays for daycare for her four-year-old, because she lives in a school district that doesn’t have universal Pre-K. Daycare costs her a few hundred dollars a week as is. And her mother watches her nephews so that her sister can work nights. But tell me how this woman is supposed to get a higher education to get back money she puts into the system.

And while we’re on it, let’s have a little chat about unpaid labor, Joe. Because you’re over here talking about how we need “work requirements,” but don’t seem to understand how being a parent works. Someone has to get the kids up in the morning, make the meals, take them to school, help with homework, schlep them to soccer and go to the parent teacher meetings. Do you know who usually does all of those things? Moms. Do you know how much money they make to take little Aidan to t-ball? NOTHING. In fact, it costs them money: the cleats, the team shirt, the pictures. Not to mention the gas it takes to drive him and his sticky little friends back and forth.

The unpaid labor of caregivers is what has kept many families afloat since the pandemic began. Want to talk about how many parents (again, mostly mothers) lost their jobs or had to quit to take care of their kids when schools shut down? And before you start talking about how school is back in session, someone has to stay home with Sophia when someone comes to school with Covid and she has to quarantine.

You see, Senator Manchin, you may not know anything about unpaid labor because you’ve never had to know anything. You’re married and have three children. When those children were young, you went to an office and did a job. And your wife took care of everything else. She cooked the meals, did the bedtime routine and stayed out of your hair. All you did was sit at the head of the table and eat the delicious dinner she put on the table. That is unpaid labor. Parents are still doing all of those things and not seeing a cent.

Because of the astronomical costs of childcare in this country, in some families, it’s cheaper to have a mom stay at home than go to work. So you’d require her to get a job outside of her home to receive a tax credit that barely reimburses her family for how much they spent on daycare? Have you been hit on the head with a coconut, or are you that out of touch? I’m going with coconut, because otherwise I will see nothing but white hot rage. I can feel my blood pressure rising at the thought of you sitting in your office and having those thoughts entering your brain. You know, the ones where you think that making dinner, doing laundry, and helping with homework don’t count as work.

Let me say this one more time Joe. Unpaid labor is WORK. Laundry is work. Cooking dinner is work. Shuttling kids to and from doctor’s appointments is fucking work, you out-of-touch shit gibbon. Families do not need a work requirement to get the money they’re already putting into the system. That makes no sense. Thank goodness for your fellow senators who understand that unpaid labor is the thing that keeps this country running. And as for you, I hope you go home and thank your wife for the dinner she made that you didn’t pay her for. Jackass.

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