The American Way of Poverty Pdf Summary
Fifty years after Michael Harrington published his groundbreaking book The Other America, in which he chronicled the lives of people excluded from the Age of Affluence, poverty in America is back with a vengeance. It is made up of both the long-term chronically poor and new working poor—the tens of millions of victims of a broken economy and an ever more dysfunctional political system. In many ways, for the majority of Americans, financial insecurity has become the new norm.
The American Way of Poverty shines a light on this travesty. Sasha Abramsky brings the effects of economic inequality out of the shadows and, ultimately, suggests ways for moving toward a fairer and more equitable social contract. Exploring everything from housing policy to wage protections and affordable higher education, Abramsky lays out a panoramic blueprint for a reinvigorated political process that, in turn, will pave the way for a renewed War on Poverty.
It is, Harrington believed, a moral outrage that in a country as wealthy as America, so many people could be so poor. Written in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, in an era of grotesque economic extremes, The American Way of Poverty brings that same powerful indignation to the topic.
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The American Way of Poverty Review
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive view of poverty and its causes
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 12, 2015
Sasha Abramsky presents a paranoramic view of poverty in America that is also detailed in its analysis. Presenting anecdotes of poor people from Appalachia to California, Abramsky draws on the stories of real people to paint a vivid picture of their struggles, courage, and resilience. The breadth of diversity is impressive–from undocumented immigrants to inner city black poor to middle class citizens who have fallen behind as result of the recession. A few anecdotes that stood out to me: a man who stole a dollar from a bank so that he could be treated for a serious illness in prison that he could not get treatment for outside because he was unemployed and did not qualify for medicaid; a couple who could not receive welfare because the assets they owned, two burial plots, exceeded the cut off limit to qualify for welfare; a woman who left an abusive marriage and finds herself sleeping with strangers in exchange for housing.
In addition to documenting how the poor lives, Abramsky offers insights on why there are so many poor in America. He offers a scathing critique of a system that allows the wealthiest to become increasingly wealthy while the poor are forgotten and the middle class struggle to keep up. The main culprit is a corporate dominated government that focuses on giving tax cuts to the wealthy and blaming government debt on welfare for the needy. The citizens of Scandinavian countries, the author points out, pay more than 50% of their earnings in taxes, but they get benefits that eliminate poverty like universal healthcare, affordable housing, reliable transit systems, affordable childcare, free higher education, and retirement benefits. American taxpayers get lemons, which fuels the perception that government cannot provide good services, leading to more demand for tax cuts. More interesting is his analysis of the root of our culture’s lack of empathy, stemming from our perception that the poor are “others”: minorities and immigrants who are competing for resources with white Americans, and the legacy of protestant Christianity that interprets wealth as a sign of virtue and divine favor and therefore poverty as a sign of moral decrepitude and divine punishment.
Abramsky lays out a detailed road map for eliminating poverty in America. These recommendations include:
– Providing a guaranteed minimum income for all Americans (provided for by natural resources from the commons such as oil and gas development).
– Reforming immigration law so that illegal immigrants have access to basic protections and services.
– Increasng the minimum wage.
– Instituteing a progressive tax and more taxes for the wealthy.
– Investing in public education and job training.
– Improving the efficiency of the healthcare system and provide universal healthcare.
– Providing welfare and safety nets for the temporarily unemployed.
– Creating jobs through public works programs during periods of recession.
– build affordable housing stocks.
– Protecting pensions and retirement benefits.
– Putting fewer people into prisons and rehabilitate those who are there.
– Providing opportunities for those in foster care and with disabilities.
The American Way of Poverty is an excellent overview of this issue that encompass so many issues. It shines a spotlight on an aspect of society that we would rather not see, but is increasingly everywhere around us. It castigates our willingness to take poverty for granted and inspires us to see it as something unacceptable and urgent, and shows us that there are plenty of solutions if we have the will to execute them.
My only criticism of this book is that it is at times too long. The information in the second half of the book repeats a lot of what is in the first half. Everything in the second half can be inferred from just reading the first half. While the book attempts to organize poverty into categories and causes, it all kinds of runs together at times. But overall very engaging, insightful, and eloquent.
4.0 out of 5 stars The growth of Inequality in the US
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 2, 2014
This is a fast and dirty analysis of this work. I am still in the process of evaluating and researching some of the conclusions the author proposes.
Mr. Ambramsky without a doubt has identified the extent of poverty in the current conditions in the United States today. He has well documented this case in current pockets of poverty. As a current member of a board in my community that is working to provide affordable housing for extreme low income and the working poor in my community, I can see where his analysis and the conditions he sites exist in my community.
I worked in the Civil Rights movement on the issues of poverty, access to jobs with livable wages and quality education. During the “war poverty” there were exceses by poverty pimps who feathered their own nests at the expense of the masses of folks. However, on the whole a lot of people were able to see their standard of living increase, kids could gain access to higher education and infant mortality rates drop — particularly in the South — where there is still the “Shadow of the Plantation”.
Most of the advanced capitalist countries either subsidize education for their nationals, or have waivers for those who work in programs in the national interests. In the US, our kids come out of college with so much debt that they are forced to try to acquire the most highest paying jobs to retire their student loans (eg. a doctor has to decide to do tummy tucks and nose bobs as opposed to basic scientific research to improve the status of preventive medicine.
Our MBAs are running to Wall Street where they transfer money as opposed to building sustainable businesses. Human beings are treated as commodities (ie. what have you done for me Today, as opposed to retraining them for the 21st Century jobs.
Some of the proposals Mr. Ambramsky advocates can help raise the poor into the “middle class” over a period of decades. However, there is no political will in Congress to take this up. In fact, the US is losing a lot of its institutional knowledge in Congress due to the fact that a lot of members are retiring because they cannot get any thing done in this dysfunctional environment.
The future is still bright. The Millenilals and Gen Y kids are rising to the challenge. They do not have the super pacs deniro, but they are making their voices heard. To paraphrase the late Sam Cooke, “change is going to come”.
3.0 out of 5 stars Gap in Expectations
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 29, 2014
I’m giving an extra star to “Poverty” for two reasons – 1) it appears the author put in A LOT of work in interviewing people across the nation, and 2) I’m an alum of UC Davis. But, to be brutally honest, I found the “Poverty” to be a major disappointment. I eagerly began the book with the expectation that I would read endless testimonies of those facing poverty in America with an opportunity for me to formulate solutions based on the testimony. Rather, 3/5th of the book consisted of a history of the US welfare system, and the author’s stern opinions on how to fix poverty in America. As part of this phase, the author alluded that the problem with poverty lies in the federal and state governments’ inability to design tailored welfare programs, and Americans’ apathy for the plight of the poor. In one way the author contradicted himself by criticizing the regressive tax structure in the US while at the same time proposing a Social Security type regressive tax structure to provide benefits to the poor. Another 1/5th of the book consisted of testimonials from social workers. Alas, finally, 1/5th involved testimonies of those struck with poverty. While I’m sure the interviewees provided much more insights than the author displayed, his editing resulted in a common message – “The government doesn’t give us enough money, and we’re going to cry and hide in our shelters over it.” Unfortunately, this limited view of the testimonials provided a disservice to America’s poor. It’s a shame – obviously the author has made a herculean effort to gather information, but ended up transforming this work into a somewhat valueless thesis.
About Sasha Abramsky Author Of The American Way of Poverty pdf Book
Sasha Abramsky Author Of The American Way of Poverty pdf Book studied politics, philosophy, and economics at Oxford University. He is now a freelance journalist and senior fellow at Demos who reports on political personalities and cultural trends.
His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, The Nation, The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Guardian, and Mother Jones, among other publications.
He lives in Sacramento, California
The American Way of Poverty pdf, Paperback, Hardcover Book Information
- Publisher : Nation Books; 1st edition (September 10, 2013)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1568587260
- ISBN-13 : 978-1568587264
- Item Weight : 1.04 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,602,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1,068 in Poverty
- #1,405 in Economic Policy
- #1,737 in Economic Policy & Development (Books)
- Customer Reviews: 4.4 out of 5 stars 125 ratings
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