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The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless Hardcover – March 13, 2000

103 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Tax credits, childcare benefits, school vouchers, flextime for parents, parental leaves--all have spawned what journalist Elinor Burkett calls a "culture of parental privilege." The Baby Boon charts the backlash against this movement and asks for a reevaluation of social policy. Burkett's cause isn't served by her sarcasm, which leads so easily to exaggeration and strained humor. She proposes, for example, that there exists an unwritten but widely understood "Ten Commandments of workplace etiquette in family-friendly America," which includes items such as "Thou shalt volunteer to work late so that mothers can leave at 2:00 p.m. to watch their sons play soccer" and "Thou shalt never ask for a long leave to write a book, travel, or fulfill thy heart's desire because no desire other than children could possibly be worth thy company's inconvenience." Burkett is more convincing when citing real-life examples, such as a legal secretary who applied for flextime and was told that benefit was available only to parents, or the case of Sarah, a childless travel agent in Seattle who invented a fake daughter, put her picture on her desk at work, and proceeded to take long lunches ("trips to the pediatrician") and leave work early for "family emergencies." Ironically, as Burkett describes, it was the search for equity that inspired the various pro-parent benefits of the "family-friendly workplace." A new attention to childless workers does seem to be in order--permitting them to substitute some benefits for others, for instance, or to receive bonuses instead, and to work in environments that support their choices not to have children. --Regina Marler

From Publishers Weekly

We may think of babies as "bundles of joy," but according to Burkett they are also bundles of cash--for their parents. In this provocative and well-documented study, the journalist and former history professor (Representative Mom, etc.) presents a case that new "family friendly" tax credits, child-care benefits and flextime policies, implemented over the past 15 years by government and businesses, not only work to the detriment of those without children but, in reality, help only the most affluent families (usually baby boomers). Drawing on firsthand interviews with parents, social policy makers, business leaders, feminists and elected officials, Burkett writes in a tone of moral outrage, and is unafraid to take controversial stands: she argues that workplace day care, for a series of complex reasons, is overwhelmingly used by middle-class white parents, although all workers pay for it; that school vouchers are essentially a boon for middle- and upper-middle-class parents at the expense of universal public education; and that many "family friendly" policies are in direct violation of the 1963 Equal Pay Act that mandated "pay for work done, rather then for the number of dependents." But perhaps Burkett's most contentious views are those attacking deeply held beliefs that there is something morally superior about having children, and what she sees as an ingrained prejudice against the childless.This incendiary book promises to stir public debate and elicit strong reactions.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (March 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684863030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684863030
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,495,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

238 of 254 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Someone left this book on the break table at work, and I started reading out of curiosity. At the end of my shift, I headed to a bookstore to buy it. I have 3 kids and I have never stopped before to think about who picks up shifts when I or the other parents in my office leave early or can't come in. I never stopped to think that the policies and tax laws that are being written are unfair to people who don't have kids. Like most people, I like to think that everyone who works with me doesn't mind when I have to leave early to pick up my kids or attend a school function. It is very eye opening for me to see that the people I have been passing work to when I was wearing my Mom hat have lives too. It is really easy to get wrapped up in My Kids and My Life, and not think about anyone else's lives. I highly recommend this book to every person, parent or childless, who thinks that the system in place is fair to all employees. It obviously is not and I am glad Burkett had the balls to write an honest, eye opening book. This is one person who will be making sure she appreciates the people who pick up the extra work so she can be home with her kids when she needs to care for them.
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106 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Bush on March 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Preaching to the choir of the childfree, this book should be required reading for every CEO and politician touting "family-friendly" policies within a very narrow definition of what constitutes a "family," and for every parent who thinks that their rights include stepping on everyone else "for the good of the (my) children."
There's a revolution brewing, and Burkett is the leading the charge. No longer will the childfree sit back and take it while parents run roughshod over them.
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104 of 108 people found the following review helpful By M. Kraus on March 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Elinor's book is a real eye-opener, pointing out the inequalities which exist in our child worshipping society today that affect not only the childfree, but the lower income families as well. Her facts and figures point to a trend in America which has been in the making for nearly 30 years. A trend which shows the changes in parental values from children once being considered a privilege and a responsibility to being viewed by wealthy "gotta have it all" parents as a loss in careers, time and money. Losses which the middle and upper income parents expect to be compensated for at the expense of the lower-income families and the childfree. The Baby Boon explains how the poor families and their children gain nothing from all the sugar-coated "family-friendly" policies being offered by the politicians and how the childfree have been reduced to second-class citizens.
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130 of 142 people found the following review helpful By D.L. on March 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every politician and CEO in the country should read this book. Elinor Burkett does an excellent analysis of allegedly "family-friendly" and "for the children" policies, exposing the underlying hypocrisy of the people espousing these policies. Burkett sounds the wake-up call for this country to realize that "family friendly" means middle and upper-middle class parent friendly and "for the children" means middle and upper-middle class children. The truly needy continue to go hungry and uneducated while politicians fall over themselves to offer "breaks" to those who can well afford to raise their own children. And of course, all these "breaks" are paid for by those without children.
Burkett does a wonderful job in detailing how affirmative action for parents results in discrimination against those without children and the demise of the concept of equal pay for equal work. Everyone, those without children and those with children, should read this book and decide whether this country can continue to support such rampant discrimination against those without children.
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96 of 104 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I just received my copy of this book tonight and I'm already half-way through it. Hats off to Elinor Burkett for researching so thoroughly and writing so compellingly about the coming social battle growing in the United States and elsewhere around the world. In an era of rampant pro-natalism and selfish 'gotta-have-it-alls', Burkett examines the moralistic rhetoric used by parents to obfuscate the truth and by politicians to justify blatant discrimination against the childless. For any of you tired of being shortchanged - financially, emotionally, politically, etc. - just because you don't have children, this book will be 'preaching to the choir', but very informative and enjoyable, nonetheless. Send a copy to your congressional representatives and remind them that childless people are the fastest-growing demographic in this country!
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92 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Greer on February 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Wonderful! In "The Baby Boon", Elinor Burkett draws back the curtains to shed light on an issue that has been quietly simmering for a long time. That is: how the ever-increasing child/parent-centeredness of U.S. society marginalizes and, in some cases, openly discriminates against people without children. Burkett gives a voice to those who have kept silent, fearing to complain lest they be branded child-haters or worse. And what an eloquent voice it is! Burkett's writing is smooth, effective, and most importantly: convincing. Her arguments are backed up not just by a sense of justice, but also by very well-researched fact. "The Baby Boon" challenges one of the most sacred of sacred cows; naturally it will prove to be a controversial book. In this Presidential election year, I truly hope that some of the public debate that this book will undoubtedly inspire will make it to the ears of our elected officials. It is high time that the host of problems associated with excessive parental priviledges be acknowled and addressed. Kudos to Burkett for her bravery in starting the ball rolling. "Baby Boon" is a must read for anyone in the U.S. who votes, pays taxes, or has a job, non-parents and parents alike.
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