The Overloaded Liberal: Shopping, Investing, Parenting, and Other Daily Dilemmas in an Age of Political Activism

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9780807001295: The Overloaded Liberal: Shopping, Investing, Parenting, and Other Daily Dilemmas in an Age of Political Activism

A veteran journalist and levelheaded mom tackles the ethics of everyday life
 
Today’s shoppers don’t just consume; we investigate and categorize the impact of our decisions on climate change, animals, our health, our political views, geopolitical relationships, working conditions, and more. Yet when we actually try to live according to our principles, it can be so overwhelming, contradictory, and demanding that we want to scream. Do I buy imported organic or local nonorganic? Is it terrible if my child wants watermelon out of season? Veteran journalist and levelheaded mom Fran Hawthorne sets out to answer these questions—and spark more. En route, she interviews activists and ordinary consumers alike, including officials from PETA, the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, an organization of “EcoMoms,” and the rabbinical group that has redefined kosher. She learns from ethicists, psychologists, Wall Street analysts, child-rearing experts, and policy wonks, while examining everything from Barack Obama’s union-made inaugural ball tuxedo to the conundrum of how electric cars might obtain their electricity. And she delves into socially responsible investing at a moment when the wheels have come off the economy. Her odyssey will be all too familiar and often funny for consumers who have thrown up their hands and wondered, “What’s a good liberal to do?”

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About the Author:

Award-winning journalist Fran Hawthorne has been a writer or editor at Fortune, BusinessWeek, Institutional Investor, and other publications. She is the author of three books on health care and investing, including Inside the FDA and Pension Dumping. She lives with her family in New York City.

From Booklist:

Hawthorne presents many issues facing the average liberal who seeks to be politically active but is often overwhelmed by the daunting challenges created by informed choice. From what to eat to what to invest in, she makes it clear that what seems obvious (American Apparel’s Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:Table Normal; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Times New Roman;}“Made in the USA Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:Table Normal; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Times New Roman;}” label) is likely far less so under careful observation (American Apparel’s anti-union stance). Do we care more about country of origin or price? Local or organic? Should an eco-minded shopper buy anything from a Big Box store? These are basic questions, but Hawthorne doesn’t sugarcoat the often difficult answers. In fact, contrary to green guides that say any effort is good, Hawthorne counters that weighing in on national legislation is really the only truly effective way to change the world. With the exception of a self-serving lecture on supporting Israel in the final pages, this is a solid choice for those willing to dive into the complexity of living with a social conscious in the twenty-first century. --Colleen Mondor

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