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Poverty, By America by Matthew Desmond review – how the rich keep the poor down - - Welcome Press "Enter" to skip to content

Poverty, By America by Matthew Desmond review – how the rich keep the poor down

A Pulitzer-winning sociologist argues that the United States’s gross inequality is no accident

It’s no wonder Americans have failed to eliminate poverty, sociologist Matthew Desmond maintains in his new book. He believes the better-off are fighting a class war, keeping the poor down by design. Even if he shies away from some of the consequences of his explosive claim, his arguments have the potential to push debate about wealth in America to a new level.

Having won a coveted MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2015, Desmond is known for his absorbing previous book on eviction practices in housing, which netted him a Pulitzer prize in 2017. He starts his ambitious new study by demonstrating how enduring American poverty is. The current poverty line is represented by an income of $13,590 a year for an individual and $27,750 for a family of four. The number of Americans below it has hovered between 10% and 15% for decades, with calls and plans for reform amounting to “50 years of nothing”. The only exception was the brief period of pandemic relief, which drove poverty down “tremendously” – for children, by more than 50%. But things are now returning to form. The Democrats ended much emergency relief last autumn and cut new entitlements for the worst-off from an Inflation Reduction Act that privileged green capitalism.

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