22 June 2004

Comments on The Working Poor

I recently skimmed through David Shipler's new book The Working Poor: Invisible in America (2004). When I first checked out the book, I was expecting to find some in-depth analysis of poverty among the working class. I found, to my chagrin, that the book merely provides numerous anecdotes about the poor. Many people will probably find the writing balanced. Shipler claims that there are numerous factors leading to poverty: in addition to government policies neglecting the contributions of poorer workers there are factors such as ignorance, laziness, and irresponsibility. After providing countless stories and descriptions of poverty for the working class, Shipler offers the following solutions:

  • Poor workers should vote. (Although Shipler concedes that few voters actually vote their class interests, or for that matter, correctly understand what class they belong to!)

  • The US should create a higher minimum wage.

  • Workers should unionize.

  • Those who are not college bound should get vocational training.

  • The government should do more to provide adequate health insurance coverage, etc.

  • Government efforts to help the poor should receive better funding.

Lastly, I did find one admiral quote from the book (p. 299).

"The liberal conservative divide is not only about how big government should be; it is also about what government should do."

For our conservative friends, this is a no-brainer: Buy expensive military hardware; launch pre-emptive wars; subsidize companies such as Halliburton that have close ties with the government and third-world kleptocrats; and shout class-warfare whenever anyone complains.

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