My rating: 1 of 5 stars
This book only gets one star because only one chapter was clear and helpful (chapter 4, on food). Every other chapter was filled with fallacious arguments and emotionally laden distortions of reality. One chapter even had a blatant contradiction within two paragraphs of each other.
The first chapter covers the "necessity" of fair trade laws within the coffee industry. It even has a chapter on "fair wages in the Bible", but it doesn't go through any of Jesus' parables about fair wages, nor does it mention any biblical laws or proverbial wisdom principles to help guide the reader. It only mentions the oppression of the poor by robbing them of their wages. And that doesn't provide any biblical solutions at all. It only leaves the door hanging wide open for secular humanistic solutions to walk right in.
The second chapter is about chocolate and the horrors of "human trafficking" in SOME foreign industries of chocolate production. She lists only one very small region within the entire world to argue her case against such slavery. William Wilberforce is used as a historical example of christian heroism (of course) in opposition to slavery. And based upon that evidence alone, she even goes so far as to claim that: "...most of us are guilty of aiding criminal behavior, even slavery, every time we indulge in a choclaty treat" (p. 57). That is pure nonsense. It is in this chapter that she contradicts herself within a couple paragraphs. On page 60 she writes: "...in the Christian tradition, there is a long history of taking a stand against slavery." But two paragraphs later, and on the same page, she argues that beginning in the first century, and "until the nineteenth century, it was common for the majority of christians to read the Bible as not only approving of but mandating slavery as a God-ordained institution." So which is it? Does the Christian tradition have a long standing history of opposing slavery or approving and mandating it?
The third chapter is about the "wasteful" effects of greenhouse gas and global pollution to the earth's atmosphere. After citing Al Gore's bogus documentary about global warning -- An Inconvenient Truth -- she tries to scare the reader into believing that the global warning crisis is so OBVIOUS, and greedy Americans so guilty of hurting others through pollution, by saying that: "some reports even predict that entire islands in the Pacific could be devastated as sea levels rise due to climate change. In 2002 the small island of Tuvalu started recruiting other Pacific nations to join a planned lawsuit against the United States... for the destruction of their homes" (through the increase of greenhouse gases, p. 79). Could the author have used a more nebulous example? "Some reports"? Really? They "predict" that this "could" happen?? Really? And one "small island" even planned on suing the United States because "climate change" destroyed their homes??? Give me a break.
The fifth chapter is all about the odiousness of "sweatshops" that make clothing for US consumers. I agree with her assessment that "basic workplace standards," like having a well-lit work area, short breaks during the day, having proper safety equipment, etc., are all good and practical ideas. But then the author goes on a diatribe in favor of enforcing minimum wage laws and promoting the "basic human right" for every person in the world to work and get health care, benefits, and a safe place of shelter to sleep at night. That sounds fine and dandy until the reader realizes that she provides no evidence of that being a basic human right. She assumes it's a basic human "right", and then goes on to talk about ways to provide "justice" in foreign sweatshops. I sympathize with her feelings about the odiousness of tyrannical and unclean work environments, but I don't agree with her understanding of basic human rights. It's certainly not what the Bible illustrates as a basic human right.
The sixth chapter is about garbage; specifically the horrors of disposable diapers, tampons, and electronics in garbage dumps. She says it's hurting the environment and poisoning tons of people, and Americans are responsible for aiding in the destruction of the world by not switching to cloth diapers, cloth feminine pads, and increasing government restrictions (i.e. increasing taxation) upon electronic companies for the harm caused upon the environment and people's health when such items are improperly disposed. My wife and I use cloth diapers for our child, and she draws out some interesting health facts which helped us decide (long before I read this book) to go that route, but there isn't much more in this chapter that's helpful or insightful.
The seventh chapter is about the national debt crisis and the irresponsibility of US citizens. It's an interesting chapter, especially those parts which talk about the IMF and World Bank (interestingly, there is no mention of the Federal Reserve to be found), but some of her arguments are really strange. For example, she argues against bigger government intrusion into people's lives, but then she blatantly endorses government schools and "free" government education!! I wasn't aware that there was such a thing as "free" government education. I thought tax payers and other expenses from the private sector were used to support government education. But hey, if it's absolutely FREE, and incredibly valuable, who wouldn't want it? But she fails to tell us where this "free" government education can be found. Her emotionally laden arguments are overly simplistic too. For example, while writing in favor of "free" government education, she says: "Universal public education is a luxury often taken for granted by wealthy nations. When the government cannot provide free education, schools must charge fees. ...One effect of this is the widening of the gender gap around the world. In cultures that value boys more than girls, a family will not "waste" precious resources to pay for a girl to attend school. The result is generations of illiterate, uneducated women" (p. 171). In this example, we are supposed to deduce that illiterate, uneducated women are the direct result of cultures which do not have a government that can provide free education. If that's not an oversimplified argument, I don't know what else is.
Only chapter four (on food) was really good and helpful.