To increase accessibility and reduce the price of formal child-care, then, we need state legislatures and regulators to liberalize these regulations. This should not be considered crazy. Many European countries have no statutory limits on staffing, with no ill effects. Parents demand a safe environment from their providers. It should be up to them to decide what price-quality bundle they want and for providers to be able to operate efficiently to deliver that. (i.e. caveat emptor)

Federal subsidies, in contrast, amount to just disguising the high costs through the generosity of others.They may not even improve access if the program is badly designed. Of course, families would see lower out-of-pocket payments, but others’ tax bills would rise to pay for this.And attempts to subsidize “free” care often bring huge unintended consequences. In the United Kingdom, for example, the number of child-care centers is falling as they struggle to maintain profitability given low subsidy rates.

Deregulation of child care is a preferable means of both reducing the cost of care and increasing its availability. It would not put taxpayers on the hook for a single dollar. Rather than introducing a whole new federal entitlement, let’s unpick the state-level interventions that drive up the costs of care in the first place.

Years ago Ayn Rand, the “philosopher” whose ideas are the basis for libertarian economics, wrote a book titled “The Virtue of Selfishness” whose pretext was that profit seekers would ultimately want to provide for those in need because doing so would help them. When “thinkers” like Mr. Bourne see corporate profits and low taxes as preferable to creating an equal opportunity for all to succeed, the flaws in Ms. Rand’s “philosophy” are self-evident.