The Working Poor

The Working Poor

Invisible in America

Book - 2004
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"Most of the people I write about in this book do not have the luxury of rage. They are caught in exhausting struggles. Their wages do not lift them far enough from poverty to improve their lives, and their lives, in turn, hold them back. The term by which they are usually described, 'working poor,' should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America." --from the Introduction

From the author of the Pulitzer Prize--winning Arab and Jew, a new book that presents a searing, intimate portrait of working American families struggling against insurmountable odds to escape poverty.

As David K. Shipler makes clear in this powerful, humane study, the invisible poor are engaged in the activity most respected in American ideology--hard, honest work. But their version of the American Dream is a nightmare: low-paying, dead-end jobs; the profound failure of government to improve upon decaying housing, health care, and education; the failure of families to break the patterns of child abuse and substance abuse. Shipler exposes the interlocking problems by taking us into the sorrowful, infuriating, courageous lives of the poor--white and black, Asian and Latino, citizens and immigrants. We encounter them every day, for they do jobs essential to the American economy.

We meet drifting farmworkers in North Carolina, exploited garment workers in New Hampshire, illegal immigrants trapped in the steaming kitchens of Los Angeles restaurants, addicts who struggle into productive work from the cruel streets of the nation's capital--each life another aspect of a confounding, far-reaching urgent national crisis. And unlike most works on poverty, this one delves into the calculations of some employers as well--their razor-thin profits, their anxieties about competition from abroad, their frustrations in finding qualified workers.

This impassioned book not only dissects the problems, but makes pointed, informed recommendations for change. It is a book that stands to make a difference.
Published: New York : Knopf, 2004.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780375408908
Branch Call Number: 305.569 SHI
Characteristics: xii, 319 p. ;,25 cm.


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Oct 12, 2014

On the one hand this is a great book, on the other hand, what EVERYONE should be concentrating on are the super-crooks and super-thieves, those who pay no federal taxes [over 70% of US corporations] those individuals who have devised ways [or at least their tax attorneys have] to always receive non-taxable undeclared income in the forms of bank loans and credit card loans/withdrawals [especially from offshore entitites] along with their much lower taxed investment incomes. Also, what is more deserving of focus is how the super-rich/thieves/fraudsters shelter their monies off shore [some $21 trillion to $31 trillion] to avoid taxation. And private equity firms/hedge funds - - such as the Blackstone Group and Citadel Capital - - which go public but instead of paying the legal corporate taxes, continue to ONLY pay capital gains [much lower] taxes! Fraud, fraud, fraud!

Apr 05, 2014

"Nobody who works hard should be poor in America." What a great quote. However, the author documents many heart-breaking examples that show that staement for what it is; a wish for things to be the way we think they should be. Financial compensation for work performed is rarely a function of calories burned in performing the job, nor is it a function of the necessity of the job to society.
I finished this book with a renewed sense of gratitude for how I have done in life, realizing that success is not purely about making smart choices and working hard, but also about having plain ole good luck as well. May God help those who are unlucky.

Jane60201 Apr 18, 2013

An excellent book because it blames neither the working poor nor society. A very balanced and intimate look at the working poor in many parts of the country.

Oct 09, 2009

An interesting look at the working poor in America.


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