The actual quote radioed by our astronauts on April 13, 1970, as their moon-bound spacecraft was damaged by an oxygen tank explosion, was "Houston, we've had a problem, here." In the 1995 film Apollo 13 screenwriters wanted to kick it up a notch or two, thus was born, "Houston, we have a problem."

But either way, we do have a very serious problem that needs fixing right now: it may sound crazy, but it's agonizing trying to find employees willing to work. I won't get into the weeds of why I think this happened, but I will address how to fix the situation.

First, though, a quick refresher. Before the pandemic, women consisted of more than 50 percent of the county's workforce, ruling a line under their importance to the economy. But that number has plunged, as many of the women are also mothers of young children.

The problem Washington or Beacon Hill isn't solving is the urgent need for daycare. The mother's household depends on her earnings. It's a rhetorical question, but what do you do when you have to choose between showing up to work or having to care for your children?

The government has been a life-size failure in this regard. And speaking of getting a big, fat red "F," Florida State University had the nerve to tell its employees that they'd no longer be permitted to care for children while working remotely. I have difficulty understanding how this government can shell out a mountain of money in every imaginable direction and not cover pandemic-era daycare until we can sort things out.

As we restart the economy, we need able-bodied and willing employees to work the jobs but they can't without qualitative, licensed daycare that is too expensive for the families. Private industry has to be involved as part of the solution, along with the government, as long as this spending doesn't end up as one of those unfunded entitlements that just jacks up the deficit. It's an old problem. Unquestionably, we can come up with new solutions.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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