I’m remembering (fondly) Dr. Paul Krugman’s book “End This Depression Now”, as I read this story about a study of poor single parents in America not being able to afford diapers. According to the Johns Hopkins study, not being able to afford diapers is the single largest stressor for parents.
There are social safety nets for things like nutrition, health care, and education, especially for kids. These exist because we consider hungry, sick, uneducated kids unacceptable in our society. None of those safety nets, it turns out, include diapers.
Going back to Keynesian theory, and Dr. Krugman’s book, adding to the social safety net during a recession creates demand. Demand will eventually lead to more supply (as far as I know, there is no shortage on the raw materials for making diapers). Creating more production, which leads to more jobs, creates more supply.
Instead, the social safety net not only doesn’t cover diapers, but budget cuts (via sequestration & state cuts) has also removed nutrition. Single parents are stigmatized, and the children are put at a health risk. What’s more, mothers (and fathers – no discrimination here) are forced to humiliate themselves and their children by re-using dirty diapers. Again, according to the Johns Hopkins study, not being able to afford diapers is the single largest stressor for parents, which adds to the stress of children.
In Canada (yes, that Socialist country to the north), free diapers can be had at any Food Bank for those that need them. Yes, they have Food Banks in Canada, just like in America, because their “socialism” is so awesome.
The simple laws of supply and demand in the context of a social safety net will not only solve the problem of poopy diapers, but will actually add to one sector of the economy in a uniquely Keynesian way. This is one of the easiest problems to solve as a society. However, until we as a society consider poopy diapers “unacceptable” for our children, it will not actually be considered a social problem; until hordes of kids show up in Emergency Rooms at least.