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The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto [Kindle Edition]

Tavis Smiley , Cornel West
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Record unemployment and rampant corporate avarice, empty houses but homeless families, dwindling opportunities in an increasingly paralyzed nation—these are the realities of 21st-century America, land of the free and home of the new middle class poor. Award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, one of the nation’s leading democratic intellectuals, co-hosts of Public Radio’s Smiley & West, now take on the “P” word—poverty.

The Rich and the Rest of Us is the next step in the journey that began with “The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience.” Smiley and West’s 18-city bus tour gave voice to the plight of impoverished Americans of all races, colors, and creeds. With 150 million Americans persistently poor or near poor, the highest numbers in over five decades, Smiley and West argue that now is the time to confront the underlying conditions of systemic poverty in America before it’s too late.

By placing the eradication of poverty in the context of the nation’s greatest moments of social transformation— such as the abolition of slavery, woman’s suffrage, and the labor and civil rights movements—ending poverty is sure to emerge as America’s 21st ‑century civil rights struggle.

As the middle class disappears and the safety net is shredded, Smiley and West, building on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., ask us to confront our fear and complacency with 12 poverty changing ideas. They challenge us to re-examine our assumptions about poverty in America—what it really is and how to eliminate it now.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

From his celebrated conversations with world figures to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders as a broadcaster, author, advocate, and philanthropist, Tavis Smiley continues to be an outstanding voice for change. Currently, Smiley hosts the late-night television talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS; The Tavis Smiley Show, distributed by Public Radio International (PRI); and is a co-host of Smiley & West (PRI). He is the first American to simultaneously host signature talk shows on both public television and public radio. In addition to his radio and television work, Smiley has authored 16 books, including his New York Times bestselling memoir What I Know For Sure and the book he edited, the #1 New York Times bestseller, Covenant with Black America. He is also the presenter and creative force behind America I AM: The African American Imprint-an unprecedented and award-winning traveling museum exhibition celebrating the extraordinary impact of African American contributions to our nation and to the world. In 2009, Tavis Smiley was named one of TIME's "100 Most Influential People in the World" Educator and philosopher Cornel West is the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton University. Known as one of America's most gifted, provocative, and important democratic intellectuals, he is the author of the contemporary classic Race Matters, which changed the course of America's dialogue on race and justice; the New York Times bestseller Democracy Matters; and the memoir Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. He is the author of 17 other texts and the recipient of the American Book Award. West holds more than 20 honorary degrees, and will return this fall as Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Product Details

  • File Size: 622 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1401940633
  • Publisher: SmileyBooks (April 17, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007ST4B1U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,795 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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119 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down-sizing the American Dream April 18, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
The "Smiley/West Show" has taken to the road. Two giants of American Christian patriotism have joined forces to wage a war, not on, but for, the poor. Together they give a new much-needed high profile voice to the "the least of us." And even though they do not yet know how they are going to pull it off, their ultimate goal is nothing less than to help restore the American dream - the one that has been "outsourced," "down-sized," "sodomized," and then bludgeoned to death by our corporate overlords and their elected whores in both of the political parties - both of whom have abandoned the poor, and both of whom dance to the tunes of their corporate paymasters.

According to these authors, so far in the 2012 Presidential campaign, the spoke-persons for neither political party have been able to shape their lips to form the word "poor," or vocalize the word "poverty."

Smiley and West, the "last-standing" champions of the poor, are "walking their talk," as they "end-run" the "bought-and-paid for," impotent and purposefully dysfunctional American political process. They go straight to the doorsteps of the people on the frontlines of the strategically engineered Wall Street war against them called the Wall Street meltdown and also euphemistically referred to as our new globalized economy. From their vantage point, the shock and trauma to what used to be called the "middle-class" (but is now version 2.0 of the poor) is incalulatable!

In this short but tightly written book, this fearsome-twosome share with us what they have learned as they listened to the poor, took careful notes, and then used this book as a way to get the poor's message out. And what they discovered is both shocking and disheartening: that there is a new kind of poverty "out there." It is version 2.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pick of the Day April 24, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Just in time for the fall presidential election campaign, talk show host Tavis Smiley and philosopher Cornel West attempt to force poverty back into the national discourse. "The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto" expands on themes developed during their nationwide bus tour last year. On Democracy Now!, they argued that one out of two Americans struggles with poverty. "You take the perennially poor or the persistent poor, on top of them the new poor--we argue in this book the new poor are the former middle class--and the near poor, folk who are a paycheck away, that's 150 million Americans wrestling with poverty," Smiley said.

The book's website declares "by placing the eradication of poverty in the context of the nation's greatest moments of social transformation--the abolition of slavery, woman's suffrage, and the labor and civil rights movements--ending poverty is sure to emerge as the defining civil rights struggle of America's 21st century ." Stephen Colbert, predictably, had a critical perspective, which he shared with the authors when they were guess on his show. ""The Rich and the Rest of Us:" that is class warfare... I believe there is one America! One America, sir, that the richest 1% just happens to own 42% of." (originally posted at left eye on books org)
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three stars for effort May 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I expected a much more convincing argument from these two minds. The statistics were often confusing, contradictory, and unconvincing. Anecdotal evidence is weak without the larger statistical evidence to back it up. The authors make some excellent points however, and the fact that they are among a very few really driving for solutions to poverty is commendable. Given the connections and status of these individuals, I was left wondering why they didn't utilize more authorities on the subject and reference stronger academic studies in the book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's more complicated than that August 13, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read a large chunk of this book sitting in my car in the leafy suburban paradise of River Forest, Illinois while waiting for my daughters at a birthday party. It is a suburb of Chicago filled with $300,000+ single family homes, well-manicured lawns, good schools and safe places for children to play. There are probably at least a couple dozen suburbs of similar affluence in the metro Chicago are.

I live a couple suburbs over in the more working-class/blue collar Town of Cicero. Cicero has some pockets of deep poverty and has had a fair number foreclosed/abandoned homes and other evidence that the Recession hit hard. Nonetheless, Cicero is not blighted and the neighborhoods have mostly held on. The schools are decent, if a bit crowded and it’s not unsafe for children to play outside. There are also probably dozens of Chicago suburbs similar to Cicero.

I bring up these two suburbs as examples to illustrate my main concern with Smiley and West’s manifesto on poverty: the black and white division between “the rich” and “the rest of us”. I’m going to guess that very few people in River Forest consider themselves “rich”, despite their average family incomes approaching or exceeding the six-figure mark. Indeed, I would be surprised if very many River Forest residents are in the 1%, let alone the 0.01% who actually control the nation and the world.

On the other hand, despite its comparative lesser wealth, I doubt many people in Cicero consider themselves really poor. I would guess that more Cicero residents than River Forest residents are struggling to make ends meet, but by-and-large people are managing to stay in their homes, the Catholic Schools fill up each year and the food pantry, while well-patronized, is not overrun.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
In their book , they state they wish to create that dialogue about poverty and how to reduce, if not prevent. Read more
Published 4 days ago by rob rinkes
1.0 out of 5 stars A Communistic Screed with Limited Facts and Reasoning
Poverty has been humankind' s basic state for thousands of years. Unfortunately it remains with us here in the USA today. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Douglas Joslin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Jonathan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent reading!
Published 2 months ago by Benjamin C.
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 3 months ago by Pinkarn Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars l am one of the Rest
The book arrived on time. I found out so much about how hard it is in the land of plenty. If we don't make changes our children and grandchildren will suffer even more.
Published 3 months ago by Judy Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for people struggling with the economy
Love Dr. West!! This book is written in an easy to understand format and should open anyone's eyes to the inequality America is drowning in. Read more
Published 4 months ago by LizzieT
1.0 out of 5 stars Should be titled "The Rich and the Rest of You"
Tavis Smiley is worth about 10 million dollars. It is too bad when hypocrisy has the opposite effect of what someone wants you to think.
Published 4 months ago by J. Knight
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid work from Smiley & West
A great resource for those looking at the history of poverty in America. I came away hopeful that if we work together, we can change the course of events with the practical steps... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Yoshimi CO
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible book - single sided perspective
Worst book I've ever ready
Published 5 months ago by fast delivery!
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