Care Talk

A sweet week for family policy in the print media. Don’t miss Ruth Rosen’s cover article on “The Care Crisis” in The Nation of March 12, 2007 OR the special report entitled “The Mother Load” in The American Prospect of March 2007, with contributions by Heather Boushey and Janet Gornick, among others. Both magazines insist that creative feminist family policy ideas should move to front and center-left of the Democratic party agenda.

First, a confession. I am a virgin blogger so I may not get the links–or the lingo–quite right. But here goes:

Ruth Rosen, you rock. Your political diagnosis helps explain my own feelings of malaise: “The problem is that many Democrats, along with prominent liberal men in the media, don’t view women’s lives as part of the common good. Consciously or unconsciously, they have dismissed women as an “interest group” and treated women’s struggle for equality as “identity policies rather than part of a common national project.”

The American Prospect articles, while less passionate (and less pissed off) go into richer detail. As Heather Boushey puts it “Values Begin at Home, But Who’s Home?” She links the struggle to balance work and family to a larger effort to ask “what’s the economy, for, anyway?” Ellen Bravo explains why we need to “redesign the national household” and celebrates the achievements of the Multi-States Working Families Consortium. Kathleen Gerson describes a younger generation trying to renegotiate gender roles in the middle of a pressure-cooker economy. Joan Williams deconstructs the media’s misrepresentation of famous women “opt-outs” who quit cool jobs, Scott Coltrane weighs in for progressive men…

Oops, I’m not supposed to summarize, but to opinionate. Here goes:

Could someone get more specific about how best to package the many proposals being dangled here? Paid family leave AND more public support for child care, yes, and obviously we need to build a broad coalition. But if we keep adding things like public housing and mass transit to the train, the engine won’t make it up the hill.

For any given package, what’s the total cost and who should pay? Progressives still don’t like to talk about the T word, but without tax reform, what can we do? I say, tax wealth to help kids. Or, in the language of economics, which doesn’t fit on bumper stickers, “tax financial wealth to invest in human capital.”

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