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.
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.