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No Exit: What Parents Owe Their Children and What Society Owes Parents Paperback – December 15, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Novel and thought provoking...Alstott [argues] that society should share in the costs of raising children because... of mutual obligation between caretakers and society: caretakers have an obligation to provide continuous care [for their children, a requirement] imposed, in part, by the state; the state thus has an obligation to care for caretakers' lost opportunities. Her argument is well supported and thoughtful... No Exit should open up a useful dialogue."--Perspectives on Politics
"Is having children just another peculiar taste, like hang-gliding or world travel? Anne Alstott's important new book explains why not. Alstott brings much-needed clarity to the debate over what society owes to parents. Her policy analysis and proposals will be controversial, but no one involved in the care work debate should skip this book."--Joan Williams, author of Unbending Gender and Director of the Program on WorkLife Law, American University
"Anne Alstott provides a thought-provoking and innovative response to one of the enduring questions for a liberal society: How to reconcile a commitment to individual autonomy with the urgent need to require that our children be nourished and cared for? Alstott persuasively describes and defends a "no exit rule" for caretakers, but then argues that the government has a corresponding responsibility to provide opportunities for parents and other caretakers. She details a public system of caretaker resource accounts and life-planning insurance designed to ensure that caretakers retain meaningful life opportunities despite their sacrifices. This book will spark spirited discussion throughout the academy, as well as among policymakers who will find in No Exit a concrete reform agenda."--Elizabeth Garrett, Professor of Law, University of Southern California
"Alstott succeeds in making an extremely compelling case: public policy can do a much better job rewarding and supporting modern day mothers and fathers who provide indispensable care for children. A powerful and timely book."--Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Creating A Life
Top Customer Reviews
She is unusually skillful at making incisive arguments of two different kinds:
- moral arguments, in this case arguments about what society owes parents (given what parents do for society), and
- practical policy arguments about how her new policy initiatives should be shaped to help parents the most without being overly paternalistic.
This book links those two kinds of arguments, and the result is a convincing moral case for some major policy changes. They may not be quite the ones you expect. Alstott is hard to pigeonhole as either a traditional feminist or a traditional economic liberal. Her proposals have their own logic. I think they're worth reading whatever your political/philosophical views.
This bias the author has for one primary parent seems to cloud thinking on many other issues?
I do agree with the author that parental leave and work flexibility programs that are designed around one primary parent won't work, and will create a pink ghetto, but she curiously retains this fallacy of "one primary parent" and just takes that parent out of the workforce, making things worse.
Perhaps she has too much romance with the families of the 1950s. I grew up in a family set up that way and it was a nightmare.