“Are we—we the secure, the insured, the housed, the college educated, the lucky—connected to all this needless suffering? This is a book about poverty that is not just about the poor. Instead, it’s a book about how some lives are made small so that others may grow.”
Pulitzer Prize winning sociologist Matthew Desmond’s work on evictions in the United States openened our eyes to life’s daily horrors for many Americans living at or below the poverty line when he visited the John Adams in 2018. Now, with his trademark blend of investigative journalism and academic rigor, Desmond turns to a much broader topic related to his previous work: poverty.
In his latest book Poverty, by America, Desmond encourages us all to be poverty abolitionists: to actively support and encourage policies, programs and mindsets that diminish poverty in the United States. This is no easy task, and requires updating not only government agencies and funding more equitable poverty-reduction programs, but more profoundly, begs us to take a long look in the mirror.
Dollar for dollar, the American government gives the most help to those who need it least, with the most tax breaks and benefits going to the middle and upper class, while making the poor poorer. This, he says, is the true nature of our ‘welfare’ state.
Matthew Desmond is the Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and founder of the Eviction Lab. Visit his website for more information and resources.
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