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The New Poor

(Books, Nonfiction) Permanent link

This book started with a bus tour (The Poverty Tour: a Call to Conscience) and ended with a symposium held in Washington D.C., staring West, Smiley, Michael Moore, Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed, our Community Read a few years ago), and others. If you’re into the Occupy Wall Street movement, you will like this book. It’s a look into poverty, a political call to action, a history of poverty in America, and a manifesto for poor people. It's also critical of Obama.

The Problem in Numbers

  1. 1 in 2 (48%): of Americans are either poor or near poor (low income, paycheck to paycheck).
  2. 33%: increase in incomes for the richest 1% in the last 20 years, compared to stagnant incomes for 90% of Americans ($33,400 in 1988 compared to $33,000 in 2008)
  3. 28%: increase in homeless people since 2007
  4. 50 million: Americans in poverty now
  5. 1% owns 42% of the wealth
  6. 38.2%: of African American children living in poverty, compared to 12.4% white
  7. 27.4%: poverty rate for African Americans; compared to 9.9% white, 26.6% Hispanics
  8. Over 90%: of so called Entitlement Benefits (e.g. Welfare) go to elderly, disabled, or working people. In other words if you think poor people are just lazy, you would have to look at a small 9% of non-working, non-elderly, non-disabled people getting welfare.

12 Solutions

  1. Jobs should have living wages
  2. Invest in workplace day care and Head Start so moms can work
  3. Community-based infrastructure projects to create jobs (e.g. “green the ghetto” projects)
  4. Adjust mortgages to reflect true-market value: if you bought a house for $100,000 ten years ago, what could you sell it for now? Maybe $70,000? Their point is that you should be paying for a $70,000 mortgage then, not a $100,000 mortgage.
  5. Universal food delivery system to end hunger: they don’t really explain how this would work
  6. Stop incarcerating so many people of color: read The New Jim Crow for more on this
  7. Don’t privatize education or prisons, and give health care a public option
  8. More lobbyists in Washington D.C. for the poor
  9. Tax the rich more and close loopholes for corporations
  10. Make the people who caused the recession pay for their crimes by paying money to the victims (restitution)
  11. Health care public option (mentioned in #7)
  12. The White House should create an actual plan to end poverty

They argue that poverty should be a national security concern; it’s not an external threat, but rather an “internal rot.” Countries can be destroyed from the inside-out, sort of like what happens in the Hunger Games or the Detroit Race Riots.



The Rich and the Rest of Us

Posted by Matt Smith at 06/07/2012 11:35:42 AM