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So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in Americaby Peter Edelman
Synopses & Reviews
If the nations gross national income—over $14 trillion—were divided evenly across the entire U.S. population, every household could call itself middle class. Yet the income-level disparity in this country is now wider than at any point since the Great Depression. In 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 million—climbing to over $11 million when all forms of compensation are accounted for—while the current median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000. How can some be so rich, while others are so poor?
In this provocative book, Peter Edelman, a former top aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a lifelong antipoverty advocate, offers an informed analysis of how this country can be so wealthy yet have a steadily growing number of unemployed and working poor. According to Edelman, we have taken important positive steps without which 25 to 30 million more people would be poor, but poverty fluctuates with the business cycle. The structure of todays economy has stultified wage growth for half of Americas workers—with even worse results at the bottom and for people of color—while bestowing billions on those at the top.
So Rich, So Poor delves into what is happening to the people behind the statistics and takes a particular look at the continuing crisis of young people of color, whose possibility of a productive life too often is lost on their way to adulthood. This is crucial reading for anyone who wants to understand the most critical American dilemma of the twenty-first century.
"In 1996, Edelman resigned from the Clinton administration in protest against the president's signing welfare reform legislation. Here, the Georgetown University law professor sharply criticizes the guidelines perpetuating poverty in the U.S., lambasting conservative politicians while ascribing blame for everything from the deteriorating financial situation of single mothers to the current economic crisis. Assiduously detailed and rife with figures carefully selected to support his claims, Edelman provides readers an informative and inclusive analysis of the American wealth distribution and welfare system. However, some may find Edelman's frequent forays into self-aggrandizement tiresome, while others may see this work as a thinly veiled excuse to praise liberal politicians of his personal acquaintance, as well as members of his own family. Edelman's tendency to make sweeping generalizations regarding entire segments of the population is sure to resonate with many of his admirers, but will strike neutral parties as lacking in intellectual objectivity. This slim volume is a great source for summaries of our country's antipoverty program, but despite the author's expertise in the area, cannot be trusted to offer an unbiased exploration of its effects on society." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Peter Edelman is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. A top adviser to Senator Robert F. Kennedy from 1964 to 1968, he went on to fill various roles in President Bill Clintons administration, from which he famously resigned in protest after Clinton signed the 1996 welfare reform legislation.
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History and Social Science » American Studies » Poverty