Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thank You Cindy Sheehan

Today, MaGreen and I read Cindy Sheehan's letter on DalyKos with great sadness. I'm not sad because she's retiring from being the face of the US peace movement, but because she has suffered so much. Her motivation truly came from losing her son to the war in Iraq, not from ego or ideology. She cut through the divisions within the peace movement. When she set up Camp Casey, MaGreen and I had already ended our intense phase of street activism because we were burnt out by those divisions. She gave us a way to lend our bodies and voices without having to debate points of unity and march routes with anyone. I didn't have to go downtown and ask for a sound permit. MaGreen didn't have to design a website getting out the word about the next protest. We just showed up in Crawford. Cindy Sheehan's authority as the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq seemed to trump all the distrust among activists. Her civility set the tone for the thousands of people who gathered with her in the Texas heat.

MaGreen was six months pregnant with BabyG when we drove to Crawford with our friends Keith and Theresa. The weekend we went may well have been the most frenzied moment in the history of Cindy Sheehan's protest outside George W. Bush's ranch, because a national group of pro-war activists had planned a counter-protest. On the way, we got caught up in the pro-Bush caravan made up almost entirely of SUVs and huge trucks. They had US flags mounted, draped, and crammed between various parts of their vehicles. Their windows were painted with “Support the Troops” type slogans. Right before Crawford, the whole caravan turned off towards what I assumed was their rallying site.

We drove into Crawford as pro-Bush people stood on the sides of the streets or sometimes in the street itself heckling us. People flipped us off or gave thumbs down signs. Many of the pro-war signs seemed factory made and they said, “I’m with W.” Others were homemade and said things like, “Cindy doesn’t speak for our marine.” Or “I support the troops and their mission.” There were several signs connecting the U.S. invasion of Iraq with 9-11. Free US flags were being handed out and the little plastic ones were strewn all over the ground. We had a big flag with a peace sign flying from our car. One man shouted that our peace sign looked like a chicken foot. “Now I know what it stands for,” he said, “chicken foot, chicken foot.”

When we got through their gauntlet of flag-waving and heckling, a peace protestor greeted us. “Ah, you’re friendlies,” he said and gave us directions. We worried that some pro-Bush person impersonating a peace activist had duped us. We had to park in a lot outside a hotel and take a shuttle to the site where the peace activists had gathered. We could see the road towards Bush’s place and there were secret service people there standing behind the “100% ID Check” road blocks. The volunteers hurried us into the huge tent where a rally was in full swing. We walked under the tent and there was Joan Baez getting on stage. Late, Cindy Sheehan spoke, mostly light-hearted quips, not her full-force polemics. “Joan proposed to me yesterday,” Cindy said, “and I accepted…just another day at Camp Casey.” A few more jokes and the rally was over. We missed most of it. Several Iraq veterans had spoken.

Once the rally broke up, some extraordinary musicians took the stage. Terri Hendrix, and Lloyd Maines played with a fantastic fiddle player. Non-Texans started shouting, “Who are you? You’re amazing!” One of Terry Hendrix’s song had the refrain, “Hey hey FCC don’t you turn your back on me.” The infrastructure of the whole camp was well done and clean. The main tent was situated behind “Arlington West” where all the crosses in honor of killed US troops were erected. To the side of the tent were about eight port-o-potties. Also tents for some groups like Military Families Speak out. There was a no drug and alcohol policy. Everyone volunteered to do something. I passed around the donations bucket and collected about $250 for the Crawford Peace House in five minutes. It was so hot, over 100 degrees in the sun, so everybody stayed underneath the tents or an umbrella. Water was available free and volunteers walked around handing them out. People had to drink massive amounts of water. The recycling bins for the “empties” filled over and over again. MaGreen had to find two chairs to sit on and placed them in front of a fan. She said, and I quote, she needed, "one for my enormous behind and another to put my feet up for the first time of my pregnancy."

A restaurant catering group served free food – celery, salad, tomatoes, cheese, dressing, cole slaw, cucumber and tomato salad, beef and corn and chicken and poblano tamales, tortillas, buffalo meat, barbecue chicken, roasted green peppers, roasted onions, two kinds of sausages, a vat of barbecue sauce, pecan pie, brownies, several other desserts, lemonade, and tea. While people were waiting in line for the food, they wrote thank you letters to the man who lent the land for Camp Casey II.

There were people there from all over the country. We met folks from California, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Colorado. There were many, many middle-aged women there. There were few teenagers and children. Also very few people of color, perhaps twenty-five out of the 2,000+ people there. We did not see Camp Casey I where we heard that there were a 1000+ people. Singer songwriters must have been ten percent people there. One young man had a sign that read, “Country singers against the war.” One t-shirt had a Gandhi quote on it, “At first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.” Another said, “The revolution will not be televised…it’s online.” Several shirts said, “Yee-haw is not a foreign policy.”

After dinner, we volunteered for traffic duty and helped keep the road from getting congested. Many of the people who drove by were curious onlookers with cameras and many were pro-Bush people waving flags, giving us thumbs down signs, the three-finger W, holding up signs that said “Hippies go home,” and even people sticking their tongues out at us. We kept telling each other, “No confrontations, avoid confrontations.” Peace people also drove by. One truck had a hand-drawn devil on the back next to which it said, “Bush is my number one worker.” Every now and then a beat-up truck driven by tough-looking guys with thick moustaches, fencing materials in the back, would drive by. They just looked at it all and kept driving. The volunteers said, “Now that was a real cowboy.”

From the road, you could see the sun setting and a big storm coming in. In the tent, three sisters from Ithaca were singing a cappela, their refrain was something like “can’t be silent anymore,” and it was if their harmony drew in the wind. The tent started shaking violently. The overhead lights swung from side to side. People were packing up and securing things madly. We caught the first shuttle out. Keith and Theresa stayed back longer to help with the traffic. We reunited at the car. All the hotels in the area were booked solid so we drove home in the night through an electrical storm. Every two or three seconds the sky lit up like it was daylight. MaGreen said that the Calvinists tried to read meaning into everything they saw in nature and it was hard not to see the two thousand lightning strikes we witnessed as symbolic of all the people who had died in Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan wrote in her resignation letter:
The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried every since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.
That part made me want to cry. Camp Casey was an incredible moment in history, not just because it forced the human cost of the Iraq war into US news coverage but because for the people who were actually there it was a time of communion, renewal, hope, kindness, and friendship. That beautiful event happened because of Cindy Sheehan's determination. She deserves our utmost attention. We should open ourselves to the message in her "letter of resignation."

She ended her letter with bitterness and a challenge:
Good-bye America ...you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.

It’s up to you now.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Seven Greenish Things About Magreen

Like GreenDaddy's post below, I'm responding to cake's tag: we were both supposed to write seven things about ourselves people don't know. Because I am stickler for the title of our website, mine are loosely based on ideas I associate with being (or not being) green.

1. I drank a glass of shelack, as a child, and had my stomach pumped. I don't remember the pumping, but I remember eying the shelack and thinking it looked tasty.

2. My friend Shelly and I used to clean my dad's bar every Saturday and Sunday morning, while playing barmaid. We stole a sixpack when I was six, drank it, and threw up all night long.

3. Throughout my pregnancy and even the delivery of BabyG I never actually envisioned having a baby at the end. I was thinking: I'm pregnant, or I'm in delivery, but never: I'm creating a child that will one day actually exist. I was determined to come through the 'phases' of pregnancy and delivery, but was totally shocked when suddenly there was this tiny other being, my baby, in the delivery room.

4. I learned to swim in an irrigation ditch full of leeches. Every summer I stepped on at least one rusty 'pop top'.

5. When I am depressed, I imagine myself curling up and resting in some coral cave deep in the ocean. When I'm happy, I look forward to passing lots of time swimming and canoeing in cold, cold clear rivers.

6. I once hitchiked out of Zion's park, during a Spring Break backpacking trip I took there with college classmates, because I missed my father so much and couldn't stand being so close to him without visiting(I went to school in Minnesota and he lived in Salt Lake City).

7. Whenever I am very angry at somebody I fantasize about supergluing their car's tires to their driveway.

Okay. I tag anthromama, fiddlehedz & pirate papa...none of whom I've met face to face, but whose blogs I've read awhile. I also tag top secret blogger juju, and anybody else out there yankering to yammer in meme form.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Secret Seven

I got tagged by cake to do a post that lists 7 things about me that you might not know. I've never done a meme, but here it goes:

1) The first album I ever bought was Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation, back in 1987. That’s the one with the song “Dude Looks Like a Lady.”

2) I won a gold medal at the 1989 National Unicycle Meet for my age group in the Walk the Wheel race, which requires taking your feet off the pedal and putting them directly on the tire. Only one other kid finished the race. Mobile, Alabama – the city I grew up in – had a very active unicycle group. I got interested when I saw them performing at a pumpkin festival.

3) When I was about fourteen, I read and reread Ursala Le Guin’s Very Far Away from Anywhere Else at least three times.

4) I started a South Asian radio show at a college radio station that’s still going after nearly ten years. It’s on WNUR in Chicago and is called The Lotus Beat. I feel really proud of that even though the name embarrasses me.

5) I never had any wisdom teeth.

6) I enjoy checking everyday how many minutes are left on our cell phone plan.

7) One of my favorite tasks I have been assigned as part of a job was when I worked as an intern for a children’s magazine called Muse. I was asked to find pictures of monkeys that didn’t show any of their genitalia. So I spent half the day at the Chicago Public Library thumbing through books about monkeys and, among other things, learned about Jane Goodall.

Now I'd like to tag Laura.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Green Inventions That Aren't

The frugal traveler, in the New York Times, is driving across the states. Since I've been having snark attacks lately, I began my sincere suggestion about where he should go in Houston (Menil, Artcar Museum, Cali sandwiches, folk houses, Clayburn cafeteria if he's a veggie...) with the observation that it is neither environmentally (the whole greenhouse thing) nor economically (with the rising gas prices) frugal for one man to drive an old car across the country. (Don't you think it'd be more interesting for him to take the Greyhound or one of the posh Mexican bus lines? He could have packed a portable scooter or bike to toot around on.)

Anyway, I know precisely how expensive gas is right now because my snarkish comment is a hypocritical one: GreenDaddy, BabyG and I have been guilty of a lot of car travel ourselves these past couple weekends. Which means we saw lots of new sights, but we also saw a lot of the same old sight: concrete & asphalt.

Gruesome, hot concrete. Unfriendly, scalding asphalt.

The whole starting off complaining about the frugal traveller's gas may have thrown you off track because, god knows, we need something that isn't gas to use in our cars...but corn, soy, oil, battery, electricity, fuel cell focused people seem to be on that one.

Which brings me to the green invention that isn't: more porous roads. I declare it high time for highways to be made of pastel colored clays. For city streets to be made of pressurized moss and tree leaves. Some sort of compacted organic 'waste' product. The roads would cool cities down by degrees. They would allow the water to fall back into the earth. They would be eco-modern.

Because hot asphalt isn't. It's 1978...as is the very idea we have to live in concrete jungles. It's 2007, ladies and gentleman, I am ready for some roads that feel good to walk down barefooted in August.

Do you have an idea for a green invention that isn't? Send it along to our gmail address which is greenparenting at said service.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Official Meatrix I

GreenDaddy and I have been thininking about how to talk about food and parenting. We've written about our incompetant gardening and our shopping at farmer's markets, co-ops, and health food chains. But somehow we feel like we've only touched the surface of...the Meatrix.

We just stumbled upon this video. Make sure you visit their site to see the other two videos and experience their interactive world.

Here's a shout out to the Other Mother and her family, who went vegetarian today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tale of a Fateful Trip

I am yankering to begin this story about our camping trip to Bastrop State Park by assuring you readers that it really taught the Green family a lot about what we should do better on our next trip. Which you know means one thing: everything went wrong.

It did. Wrongness was the most confident and reliable member of the camping party GreenDaddy, BabyG and I set off on with our friends Gemini, Araf and their five year old daughter, Maha. I’m fairly certain none of us would deny it.

But just in case somebody would, I’ll make my case, which begins by explaining how the site we had planned to visit, Huntsville State Park, just an hour away from Houston, was filled. Garner State Park and the clear and cool Frio River, where I really, really want to go was too far: four hours away. So we drove to Bastrop State Park, which we knew little else about except that it had a swimming pool and pine trees. I could not dismiss a forboding feeling when I heard the park (was so lame) that even though it had two lakes, it also had to have a pool.  Something seemed amiss.  

But Bastrop is two hours from Houston and had a spot open: who cares about amiss? GreenDaddy and I spent hours Friday night amassing gear...so long we skipped breakfast and were two hours late meeting up the next morning. Then, though she didn’t scream the whole two hours, our child refused a nap and earned high high-maintenance marks.

Bastrop Park was hot. Our site was hilly, BabyG tripped, and this made her cry until daddy took her for a walk. We forgot ice. When Gemini and I went to buy some, I asked the cranky old lady in the park store where we could swim, and she told us nowhere: the pool was closed and no wading or swimming was permitted in the lakes or creeks. Since we were planning to paddle, I asked if water-contact was prohibited because the water was somehow dangerous, or if it was just a protected ecosystem. She said it was an ecosystem, and wouldn't say more. When an old volunteer guy carried our ice to the car, I asked him how to cool off. He said drive five miles to the lake in the neighboring park. We eventually did: it was a crowded, swimming-pool-sized, fairly shallow area in a lake otherwise meant for water skiers and that, Maha said (dismissivley) smelled like ketchup: otherwise it was perfect.

That night, BabyG peed the bed. Twice. It was blistering cold outside, for Texas, and we were serenaded by the continuous humming, honking and buzzing of cars passing on the nearby highway. Half the pan of oatmeal fell into the fire, that next morning. BabyG started saying bye-bye to everybody, which meant: okay, I’m ready to have been back in Houston three hours ago.  

Instead, we headed to the lake you couldn’t swim in, to kayak and fish. It turned out we were missing GreenDaddy’s kayak oars, so he and Araf rented a canoe and then Araf went fishing. It took forty mintutes to put the Klepper kayak together, after which, Gemini, Maha, BabyG and I climbed into the canoe. I took one oar as Gemini had never paddled before, and GreenDaddy took the other in his kayak.

Maha, almost immediately, wanted to go fish with her dad, and BabyG was unabashedly unimpressed with her life-jacket. She performed her best shrieking raptor imitation, non-stop, until I stopped paddling and breastfed her. Gemini didn't want to take the helm as the canoe thing was new to her. She thought she'd kill us. She didn't though: she caught on to paddling nicely.

When we reached Araf, he said he’d like a ride. GreenDaddy jumped waist deep in the water to help moor us as we transferred vessels. When Gemini’s family came back, we all decided to picnic on what ended up being waterlogged veggie burgers. Yum. After eating, we packed up and headed to our respective homes.

Fast forward twelve hours and note how GreenDaddy’s body is a minefield of flatworm infestation. It looks like countless mosquito bites. Initially, I felt sorry for him, but didn't pay much attention. When the bites seemed to multiply, I searched the internet and discovered he has swimmer's itch: bites made from a parasitic worm that cycles through snails and ducks until humans stupidly offer up their, apparently, duck-like skin. Its itch is severe (like poison ivy) as opposed to mild (like insect bites) according to the Center for Disease Control. He has over 74 bites.

So, it’s like I said, we learned a lot about what to do better, next time.

But it's also like what I didn’t say, but what GreenDaddy and I talked about half the way home. As BabyG slept peacefully in her Aloha carseat, and we were following the wildflower drenched highway back to Houston (and there were dozens of varieties of wildflowers out this weekend: in purples and reds and yellows and golds and whites and lavenders...) we talked about how we both felt toatlly relaxed. Stress-free for the first time in months.

And it occurred to us, as it has occurred to all campers at one point or another, that the swim in the grass-filled and pondy bottomed lake, the making due with imperfections, the passing of intensely intimate time with another family, the learning to wash two pounds of spinach in a plastic bag, the witnessing of somebody learning to steer a canoe, the blossoming friendship between BabyG and Maha, even the little part of beauty evident in the presence of motorhomes with their sewage systems, Christmas light pollution, and satellite televisions: the power of camping is that all of these tiny things come together and trump the obvious wrongs. And no matter how annoying the wrongs were at the time, by the ride home they seem to be integral parts of camping fun (except for those worm bites.)

I mean, I wrote all this just to say: we had fun. More fun than we've had in ages and ages. It was nice to spend that time with our friends and each other. And though next time we’ll be sure not to wade in shallow lake water we’ve been told not to swim in, and we’ll remember toys for the baby, and we’ll make simpler meals, and we’ll get up earlier and swim in cooler water…something else unexpected will happen. And we’re looking forward to finding out what it will be.

Friday, May 18, 2007

This world of dew

This world of dew
is only a world of dew -
and yet

Kyoshi Takahama


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Okay Something Weird is Happening

BabyG is a veritable toddler's dictionary, she says: (za)pato (as in shoe), aqui, mas (as in more or in give me food now), no (as both a command and a joke), shoes, one, two, three, ojo, pelo, boca, park, book, baby, ball, ouch, not, Mama, Dada, all done, meow, kitty, woof, baa, moo, neigh, Ana, pretty, bye-bye(as a command (let's go NOW) and a salutation), hi, hello, bath, good, buenas, adios, pee pee, poo poo, happy, vaca, qua, pato (duck), Lila, La la la, mine, mia...She's making sentences: No, no, Mama, night night! (I don't want to do that, mom, I want to breastfeed!)

I am giving up on blogging until Sunday night when I hope the blogger glitches that have devastated a longer, better post are no longer.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Vicious Canines Attack BabyG

It happened in Utah, the second to the last day we were there. My cheerful, funny, walky little baby was mauled by what I think were two canines sometime between breakfast in my mother's hotel and lunch. It happened that fast.

What started out as a fever and mild crankiness, evolved into her most painful teething episode yet. It has meant a two hundred percent meltdown from a general feeling of discontent into an outright rage, several times a day, for the last 6 days.

Teething has always been hard for our little one. She refuses to eat anything but breastmilk, she gets diahrrea, she has 100.9 degree fevers, she wakes every couple of hours and requires long bouts of nursing...And these canines, they have been the worst. And I hear the most painful teeth to come in are molars.

I've decided to amass a list of green teething solutions. I'm going to say upfront that BabyG has been eating lots of Infant Motrin because nothing else I tried came close to working for her. We tried Hylands teething tablets, teething bisquits, teething toys.

However, I know there are levels of teething, and I know there are lots of remedies out there I haven't tried, and that might work alone for mild teething or (for us) augment the pain medication. Maybe there's a natural solution that will beat out Motrin...

So this is a general call: What teething remedies have you all used or have you seen used to good effect?

I've heard about: frozen bananas, vegetables, frozen washrags, clove oil. Anybody use any of these methods, or know anything about them? Teething post will be up in a week or so...

Why You Might Not Try To Save $2,000

The ATT&T Lesson: When you called AT&T two months ago to complain about the ever-increasing bill, a young man put you on a new plan to help you save $35 a month. The new plan, it turns out when you get your bill, costs exactly five dollars more than the old one. Because you like the quality of AT&T, you call and ask if you can get their cable internet without the phone. You can! If you also get their cable TV, which will eventually cost you $75 a month. Nobody believes you don't have a television (or that you have one in the attic, in case of emergencies). So you decide to switch to Earthlink cable. When you call to cancel AT&T, they tell you that it will cost you $100 because you were just put onto a new plan that requires a one year contract. You say you weren't informed of a yearlong service contract, that you wouldn't have signed up for one since you were considering the switch to cable for awhile now, and that even if they had told you, they lied about the price. They ask if you if you want to pay the one hundred dollar cancellation fee or keep your service. You ask for the manager. They say it's the weekend, the manager will call you by Wednesday. They have told you this before, about another issue, and you know what they mean is that you should call back on Monday. I haven't had the resolve to do this as of yet.

**Update** 43 minutes into a call in which you speak to 6 different AT&T reps, half of whom think your contract actually expired in August, half of whom think it began in March, you are informed that the manager has to call back because they're backloaded. Turns out it's not only on the weekend you can't talk to a manager, it's everyday.

The Internet Switch Lesson: No matter how proficient you have become in the last twenty years, it will always take at least eight solid hours, usually thirteen, of your time. When the installation guy leaves, for example, you will discover you don't actually have a working connection. The Earthlink call center will help you along and a few days later you will learn a 56k modem is faster than your new Earthlink cable. The Earthlink call center will tell you to unplug your modem and cable connection and restart your computer (the old goat takes more than 5 minutes to restart every time, and throughout this process, you will restart it at least 20 times) and swear your problem is solved. An hour later, you will call the same call center, tell them about the same slow problem. The new call center employee will try a completley different solution that sort of works. Eventually, they will refer you to Time Warner, who installed the service. Time Warner employee will perform all the same tests from your computer that Earthlink did, look at various settings, finally refer you back to Earthlink. At the last second the employee will get a bright idea, have you fix one more thing, and that will work.

The Energy Company Switch Lesson: You sign up for a new service April 16th or so, and get a note back from the Texas Power Commision telling you they've approved the switch for June 15. It takes two months, I guess, to. Um. What???? Whatever. I'm not making any phone calls.

The Bank Switch Lesson: Switch banks before you switch phone companies or you may not have enough life force left to fill out the online application and send it in via snail mail. We are switching from Chase, king of $12 service fees and low interest rates, to EverBank that charges nothing and gives 6% interest on both checking and savings. It's an internet bank...meaning I'll have to send in deposits, but it pays for ATM charges at whatever local bank you make withdrawls.

The Saving $2000 A Year Lesson Ask the internet readers to come up with one. You spend too long trying to think of a pithy aphorism or metaphor, but your brain is in a hateful mood and won't help out.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I Love You Sleeping Worker

Today, for lunch, I ate two sandwiches garnished with dill and chard from the garden. Then I walked back to the office from home. I usually ride my bicycle back, but I had a flat tire and I didn't want to switch out the tube right then. It's about a two mile walk. Probably the most walkable two miles in all of Houston. Nearly the whole way the sidewalk is shaded by oaks and magnolias. I walk down Woodhead street through the lower Montrose over I-59 and into the elite neighborhood near Rice University. The trees over there don't just shade the street, they form perfect canopies. Most of the people outside in that neighborhood are brown like me. They're landscaping or taking white babies out for a stroll. Of course, I don't pass among them. My spectacles and at least a dozen other markers give me away as someone walking to the campus.

After I crossed Rice boulevard and entered the campus, I noticed a facilities worker sitting on the grass by the side of the road. He had his back resting against a tree and his legs stretched out in front of him. I thought he might be sleeping, but I couldn't tell because of his sunglasses. From about ten feet away, I heard him snoring. As I passed him, I saw a line of saliva hanging from his lip, gleaming brightly because the sun was hitting it at just the right angle. I thought about taking a picture of him with my cell phone camera, but was afraid that even allowing my camera to record the light bouncing of his body would ruin the perfection of his sleep. So I just kept walking and smiled for five minutes straight.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Economics for Humans by Julie A. Nelson

I was surpised a few years ago when I found out that economics comes from the same root as ecology. The common root is oikos, which is Greek for home or household. Back in the seventeenth centure, if you read a book of oeconomics, you would find dinner recipes, home remedies, and advice on managing expenses. Green Parenting is a 21st century blog of oeconomics in a way. The archives of this blog are largely dominated by our documentation of how we cook, what we throw away, what utility companies we use, and our struggle to share responsibilities. Then all of a sudden, we post about the World Bank or Global Warming. You see, we're harking way back to the oeco- in economics and ecology, like we're ancient Greeks. Call me Aristotle, baby. We're erasing the modern boundary between the public and private, the domestic and the civic, the personal and the political. Agoramania in the blogosphere!

A book called Economics for Humans helped me think through what it means to question the separation of what goes on inside a home and what happens in the global economy. Published in 2006 by the University of Chicago Press, the book moves from economic history to the challenges people in the United States face now. I think what's most interesting about the book is that Nelson takes aim at right-wingers who think the marketplace solves all problems and "her friends," who believe that corporations are intrinsicly evil. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:
Probusiness, neoliberal zealots firmly believe that the economy is a machine. They assert that any direct concern with ethics or care is unnecessary because a market economy automatically serves the common good. Antimarket critics also believe the economy is a machine. They assert that ethics and care are impossible within capitalism since the system automatically runs on the energy of self-interest and greed. Either way, the metaphor forces us to divorce the "body" concerns of economic provisioning for our lives from the "soul" concerns of social responsibility and caring relationships. The economy-as-machine metaphor has blinded us to the real-world qualities that make humans work and care and organizations run.
Non-profits, she argues, are not necessarily the instruments of good. Nelson gives examples of corporate hospitals that provide better benefits to their workers than non-profit hospitals. She's extremely critical of lefties who think of non-profits, churches, and volunteers as mop-up operations for the inevitable destruction of mega-multinational corporations. She's also critical of those who insist that government has no place in making sure everyone has access to childcare, eldercare, quality healthcare, and paid leave. She argues that the first step to addressing the caring crisis - a crisis I believe most parents are acutely aware - is to jettison the economy-as-machine metaphor. Then we'll be able imagine pragmatic solutions that involve corporations, non-profits, government, and individual responsibility.

I talked to an economist who specializes in the study of big corporations about Nelson's arguments. This person said, "We know the economy isn't a machine, that's Introduction to Economics stuff." Maybe that's true, but it's that Intro to Econ rhetoric that actually drives the public debate. Most of our politicians and journalists didn't get past that intro class. So I would recommend this book, along with The Invisible Heart by Nancy Folbre, for anyone who wants to learn a humanist and feminist economics.