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The New Politics Of Poverty: The Nonworking Poor In America Paperback – July 21, 1993

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The New Politics Of Poverty: The Nonworking Poor In America + Government Matters: Welfare Reform in Wisconsin + Expanding Work Programs for Poor Men
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Railing against the nonworking poor is Mead's ( Beyond Entitlement ) central preoccupation here. The former research director of the Republican National Committee maintains that today's "nonworking" poor are singularly different than earlier generations of the poor in that they refuse to work. He concludes that they lack moral authority and, therefore, the right to make demands upon society. He calls for "work enforcement" and the "reassertion of public authority," while arguing against today's "dependency politics which is largely about how to cope with nonworking people." Mead relies heavily on statistics to prove his points, but his interpretations are highly subjective. This is social policy in the hands of a zealot, and fervor more than facts are the draw. First serial to Commentary.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Mead examines the divergent conservative and liberal political responses to the increasingly threatening social and economic costs to America of a passively nonworking poor underclass, predominantly negative contributors to a mainstream society believing in advancement through active individual effort. As in his Beyond Entitlement ( LJ 12/85), Mead argues for a work requirement for employable recipients of public assistance. This, he reasons, would not only alleviate the poverty but would help individuals realize some measure of control over their lives and affirm the concept of personal responsibility. A challenging work, with very extensive notes, this is appropriate for upper-level undergraduates, policy makers, interested professionals, and laypersons. Previewed in "On the Campaign Book Trail," LJ 3/15/92, p.110-12.
- Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (July 21, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465050697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465050697
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,230,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Mead writes a book that is not only well researched, but also understands the psychology of poverty.
Before I go on let me explain the obvious by way of the fact that there are poor people that don't want to work, and poor people that do want to work. What's been happening is that there is a shift from the latter, to the former.
Those that want to work deserve all the support that our government can provide; however, there is a "just give me a welfare" check mentality that is quickly becoming popular amongst the disadvantaged. This mentality is fostered by liberal programs, and then these people are harvested for their votes like so much cattle.
The problem is what has been termed "the politics of pity". Liberal programs do not treat these people with any sort of respect. Instead, lip service is paid to their woes in return for their votes. Studies show that the more impovershed a person is, the more likely they are to vote liberal. Therefore, conservative plans have it in their own best interests to empower voters to work. However, while liberal plans are given impressive sounding descriptions, the DETAILS of liberal plans are less than generous.
THE POLITICS OF POVERTY says that when the USA is in an economic downturn, the country votes Democratic; when the country is doing well, they always vote Republican. While many country-club liberals enjoy feeling morally superior by feeling sorry for poor people, the ugly and hard fact is that they need the poor in order to support their own positions. Other People's Poverty equals their own power. Consider this: during the last 19 months of the George Bush I presidency, the Democratic legislature refused to bring to debate any appropriations bills, even those supported by Alan Greenspan.
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23 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Tim Hundsdorfer on May 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There are three things that strike me about The New Politics of Poverty. First, the mean-spirited attack on poor people, but especially poor children. Second, poor logic and weak evidence is presented as indisputable fact. Finally, the extremely important role this book has played in American politics.
The argument that poor people are poor because they are in some way defective-especially that they are lazy-is a recurrent theme throughout this book. If you accept this argument, you are likely to find TNPoP compelling reading. The call for poverty programs to be work tested, that is, to make government assistance dependent on willingness to work, is supported by anecdotes, logic and statistical proof. All of it is presented in a way that is generally easy to follow. It is, however, based on a weak theoretical foundation. This foundation is that people who do not work are not worthy of government assistance. This is a neo-liberal argument that has been implemented not only by conservatives, but also by the "New Left," politicians like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder.
The weakness is that if we accept Meads' argument, we are willing to argue that children and the infirmed are not only not eligible for government assistance, but that they do not deserve it. This is a classic argument against the neo-liberal idea, even before there was a neo attached to it. Hobbes has often been critiqued on the problem of social contract and the "unable." Mead has nothing to add to this argument, instead ignoring it or blaming impoverished mothers for the plight of their children.
Perhaps I am naïve, but I believe that most Americans do not, ultimately, believe that children and the infirm are unworthy of government assistance.
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The New Politics Of Poverty: The Nonworking Poor In America
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