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So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America Hardcover – May 29, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"A competent, thorough assessment from a veteran expert in the field."

"Bobby believed that, ‘as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.’ Much has changed in forty-five years, but as Peter eloquently reminds us, far too many Americans remain trapped in the web of economic injustice. His compassionate and singular voice awakens our conscience and calls us to action."
—Ethel Kennedy

"Peter Edelman brings blinding lucidity to a subject usually mired in prejudice and false preconceptions. Before we have one more discussion of how America can combat its persistent and growing levels of poverty, could everyone please read this book?"
—Barbara Ehrenreich

"If there is one essential book on the great tragedy of poverty and inequality in America, this is it. Peter Edelman is masterful on the issue. With a real-world grasp of politics and the economy, Edelman makes a brilliantly compelling case for what can and must be done."
—Bob Herbert

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 Clinton’s administration, from which he famously resigned in protest after Clinton signed the 1996 welfare reform legislation.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (May 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595587853
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595587855
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #745,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 75 people found the following review helpful By C. Wagner on June 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It is the same old story: Poverty, in the last decade has grown at a rapid clip as the poor got poorer and the rich got richer. The U.S. is virtually number one in the industrialized world in regards to poverty, and not in a good way.
This is hardly an original concept, but it is a subject which the author goes on to address in detail.
Hemorrhaging of good jobs to low pay countries and increases in single parent households hurt women and minorities where they live, but does no ethical person any good.
In the present economic system, the poor and near poor amount to an estimated 103,000,000 U.S. citizens.
The wealthy at the top " not only eroding our democracy but also making it virtually impossible to find the resources to do more at the bottom." (p. xviii.)
Great progress eradicating poverty will require bold action on the federal and local level public and private says the author.
And the challenge may be, as Steve Jobs said in 2011, the jobs are not coming back... and the jobs we have left may be insufficient to support a poverty free society.
Wages no longer rise with the consumer price index, which is rigged anyhow. A huge number of jobs do not pay enough to live on. (p.47.). Adequate living may be an income twice the federal poverty level. Naturally, globalization reduces the funding available for entitlement/assistance. Interestingly, the majority of the U.S. poor are white.
Defining poverty is also a rigged game.
Chapter 4 describes the ugly picture of the demise of unions and the current ineffective minimum wage.
In discussing the abandoned, Edelman says "The tools of opportunity need to exist," (P. 104.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Joanna D. #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I really like this book--the author slashes through the myths of poverty and welfare to highlight what has changed since the "War on Poverty" of Lyndon Johnson, and what doesn't work and why.

Some interesting facts brought out in this book:

Welfare these days mainly consists of food stamps. The old "welfare check" we remember in the olden days is no more. That, plus rent subsidy, is what modern welfare consists of (plus some medical aid as well.) States are rewarded for keeping people OFF food stamps, so there is a culture of denying benefits, even as benefits have increased. This is counter-productive.

The poor used to be overwhelmingly the elderly (hence, social security as the safety net.) Now, the poor are overwhelmingly children.

Low-wage jobs (the working poor) have been supplemented by sending Mom out to work. So people are getting by via two parents in the workforce, with no one home to raise the children. Meanwhile, the single mom, ever on the rise, has no such option. She MUST work, and find a family member or other way to take care of her kids.

The greatest NUMBER of poor people are Caucasian---but....Latinos and African-Americans are disproportionately poorer.

Suburban poverty has increased about 50 percent since 2000, but urban poverty has remained about the same level at 16 percent, which goes along with the reversal of the increase in the African-American middle class, which was on the increase, but has seemed to decline. This could also be tied to the decline of "jobs" that is, places to work in manufacturing and service, jobs that have disappeared over the last two decades.

Female-head-of-family has soared in number (single moms.)

Here is the crux of the problem.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Richard of Connecticut VINE VOICE on September 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Peter Edelman has served his country in many capacities as a man who comes from the left side of the political spectrum. He walked behind Robert Kennedy during his time in the Justice Department. He clerked for Judge Friendly on the Court of Appeals and Justice Arthur Goldberg on the Supreme Court. He holds multiple degrees from Harvard University both as an undergraduate and the law school. He also served as a high official in the Clinton Administration and resigned in protest of the welfare reform act enacted by that Administration.

He knows what he is talking about and has spent his life studying poverty. The statistics he furnishes in the book are indisputable and worth studying. This is a man whose work you should study. The book is more than worthwhile. If you are interested in poverty, a subject that has not been mentioned during the 2008 Presidential campaigns of both Obama and Bush II, and has not been raised during this campaign as well then this is a great book to start with.

The numbers speak for themselves. The professor mentions we have 46 million people in poverty as of the year 2012. That's up from 31 million in the year 2000. As a percentage of our population we have as many people in poverty today as we did 50 years ago.

Now having said the above here's the problem which is never explored throughout the entire book. Fifty years ago, Lyndon Johnson began this nation's fight on poverty. Medicare and Medicaid came into effect and a whole slew of programs specifically aimed at ending poverty in the country. Through the years trillions of dollars of this nation's treasury were spent in the effort.
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