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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    It's a sad fact that the only people who read books like this are those that don't need to be. It’s just good old fashioned preaching to the choir. It's a sadder fact that the people who need to read this book the most never will. They're too busy voting against their own economic interests. A few years ago as I would drive to work in the morning there'd be a group of "yes to prop 8" people gathered with their signs and their children and their idiocy, asking cars to honk in agreement to banning It's a sad fact that the only people who read books like this are those that don't need to be. It’s just good old fashioned preaching to the choir. It's a sadder fact that the people who need to read this book the most never will. They're too busy voting against their own economic interests. A few years ago as I would drive to work in the morning there'd be a group of "yes to prop 8" people gathered with their signs and their children and their idiocy, asking cars to honk in agreement to banning gay marriage. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Californ...) I hadn't been in this country very long back then and was not only disgusted/confused, but morbidly curious. Who were these people? Where did they come from? What kind of tiny warped brain motivates suburban mothers and fathers to play arts and crafts with their kids like this? Constructing hateful billboards at the kitchen table the night before and then waking these kids from their beds, dressing them, no doubt feeding them sugary cereal while morning talk shows played in the background, then loading them and their art projects into their gas-guzzling SUV and setting up on a busy intersection corner at 7:30am to wave "God hates Fags" signs at passing commuters. It just makes no sense. So much of this book reiterates how much of this country's problems remain alive because people like the moronic Griswolds above are so preoccupied with issues that MAKE NO DIFFERENCE TO THEIR LIVES to even notice the real problems. Those kids who were dragged out of bed, crusty eyed and obligingly unaware - do you even stop to think that in 10 years it won't make a rat's ass difference if Adam and Steve have a marriage certificate or not - what will matter is that your freshly graduated sheltered suburban child won’t be able to find a job. And if they do, they sure as hell won’t be able to buy a house. People are stupid. Busy them with something like gay marriage or abortion and there's no room left in their skulls for issues that actually affect them and their lives. Issues that threaten the futures of their children. Poverty. One percent of country's richest individuals control 42% of the country's wealth. p.7 This isn't worth an arts and crafts session mom and dad? That isn't worth a micro-second of panicked thought in your stupid little brain? For those of us informed and aware about the loss of the "middle class", the 50 million Americans who live at or below the poverty line, the 30 million American children who go to bed hungry each night, this book will not contain any surprises. Those of us reading it already know just how far out of proportion the pendulum swings. I want to leave my copy in the break room at my job. I want to buy copies and leave them on the seats at doctor's offices. I want to wrap them up in pretty red bows and thrust them in the fox-news watching faces of all fools I'm unfortunate enough to cross paths with every day. This is not a difficult book. Clearly written, lots of information, statistics, facts. Important facts. Horrifyingly alarming facts. And the worst part? People, like me, will read this, nod in agreement, shake our heads and carry on with our day.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie *Eff your feelings*

    I read most of it, but I really couldn't rally myself to get to the finish line with this one. I'm not sure why. I really like Tavis Smiley and there was loads of good information in the book..... Anyway..... I read most of it, but I really couldn't rally myself to get to the finish line with this one. I'm not sure why. I really like Tavis Smiley and there was loads of good information in the book..... Anyway.....

  3. 5 out of 5

    dianne

    As i have great respect for both of the authors of this book, and they are both talented orators, i was really looking forward to reading this. Unfortunately, i think they knocked it out over a beer or two, or perhaps had their favorite college kids do it; it is sloppy, redundant, all over the place. Their ideas for solutions never quite make it to profound - still using gushy platitudes and bandaid attempts to fix an irretrievably broken system. The very real crisis of "the rich and the rest of As i have great respect for both of the authors of this book, and they are both talented orators, i was really looking forward to reading this. Unfortunately, i think they knocked it out over a beer or two, or perhaps had their favorite college kids do it; it is sloppy, redundant, all over the place. Their ideas for solutions never quite make it to profound - still using gushy platitudes and bandaid attempts to fix an irretrievably broken system. The very real crisis of "the rich and the rest of us" makes taking this on very critical. i wish they had.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Angel

    Finally finished this book, and I certainly was moved. At the end of the day, I do have some mixed feelings about the book. This is not due to the content. It is just that it is the kind of book that the choir will pretty much pick up, nod in agreement, and then move on, and the clueless will just completely miss. I get the feeling that the people who really should be reading this book will either miss it or ignore it. After all, pointing out that poverty exists and calling out those actually re Finally finished this book, and I certainly was moved. At the end of the day, I do have some mixed feelings about the book. This is not due to the content. It is just that it is the kind of book that the choir will pretty much pick up, nod in agreement, and then move on, and the clueless will just completely miss. I get the feeling that the people who really should be reading this book will either miss it or ignore it. After all, pointing out that poverty exists and calling out those actually responsible for it is just not done in polite company. Smiley and West are saying a lot that needs to be said, but how many out there will listen? More importantly, how many of those who listen will be moved to substantial action? That is my question. Having said that, this book is a must-read. The book is a follow-up of the authors' 2011 Poverty Tour, a tour that went to 18 cities in the U.S. to highlight issues of poverty. The book combines personal stories, commentary, historical overviews and statistics to show how poverty is not just a significant issue in the U.S. It is a national security threat, not to mention a shame upon the nation since it is something that can be solved, but Americans as a whole choose not to solve it. It is not a new problem. What is new is that white suburbanites, who always saw themselves as solid middle class are suddenly falling into poverty. That is what makes the news now, but poverty has been around long before the recent Recession. At any rate, there is an opportunity for substantial change, but it is going to take a lot of will, courage, and compassion. This is what the authors argue. Unlike other books, the authors also offer a full plan for a solution that is worth a look, and one that politicians, if they actually cared for their constituents, could work toward implementing. I took some notes, so I will probably do a longer write-up of the book in my blog, but I wanted to jot down some thoughts here and to note that I did finish it. Now, don't just sit there. Go find and read this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Naomi V

    i’ve longed admired Cornell West (in spite of his religiosity – he at least seems to embody what most christians claim to be, which is empathetic, kind, forgiving, etc. anybody that can refer to “brother rush” [Limbaugh] without making a gagging sound is a truly open and loving person.) the book is full of history and statistics, graphs and charts; but it has a very personal aspect to it as well as the authors quote real people who have lost their jobs, their homes, and their hope since 2008. th i’ve longed admired Cornell West (in spite of his religiosity – he at least seems to embody what most christians claim to be, which is empathetic, kind, forgiving, etc. anybody that can refer to “brother rush” [Limbaugh] without making a gagging sound is a truly open and loving person.) the book is full of history and statistics, graphs and charts; but it has a very personal aspect to it as well as the authors quote real people who have lost their jobs, their homes, and their hope since 2008. these are the newly poor; people who were not raised in poverty, but people who expected to improve on their parents’ economic status. they have educations, they had jobs, but since the great recession, they have lost it all. part of the history in this book contrasts the newly poor with the way that poor people have been portrayed in our society for generations now. the poor, we have been told, and many still believe, are people who do not want to work – they are people looking for a handout, people who are on drugs or are alcoholic, people who are just plain lazy. and we have also been led to believe that the poor are mostly minorities. this long-believed fallacy is dissected and refuted by West and Smiley: “We would like to present an alternative theory … poverty is a shortage of money. And the biggest reason for that shortage of money is that most working people are not paid enough for their work and then we don’t have work.” white people overwhelmingly comprise the ‘new poor’ in the US, and have found that they are treated with the same contempt that has been shown to the minority poor for generations. Smiley and West show how government programs have plenty of money for prisons, for police, for the “war on drugs,” for weapons and invasions, but somehow lacks sufficient funds for proper education, housing, and job creation that will decrease poverty in this country. “There is something warped about a society that has invested $300 billion for the expansion of the prison industrial complex’s jails, prisons, and juvenile justice institutions while claiming it has no money for schools, housing the homeless, feeding the poor, or creating jobs with a living wage.” there is a failure of government policy and we see this every day on the news. there’s much more to this book; including ideas of how to improve the situation. i think we all know that there’s poverty; regardless of the fact that the news doesn’t cover it and poor people are pushed into a corner where we don’t care to look. this book was a real eye-opener and in spite of the tragic stories, there is a sense of hope and a call for change.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    If you are familiar with the work of West and Smiley, nothing in this book will surprise you. It is an impassioned, sincere call to action, nothing less than the eradication of poverty in America. The profiles of some of the desperately poor people they met on their poverty tour are heartbreaking, and the historical analysis of how government has gradually abandoned anti-poverty programs over the past few decades is deeply troubling. West and Smiley call for a new society of compassion, fairness If you are familiar with the work of West and Smiley, nothing in this book will surprise you. It is an impassioned, sincere call to action, nothing less than the eradication of poverty in America. The profiles of some of the desperately poor people they met on their poverty tour are heartbreaking, and the historical analysis of how government has gradually abandoned anti-poverty programs over the past few decades is deeply troubling. West and Smiley call for a new society of compassion, fairness, and equality. Nothing the authors propose is beyond doing but it will require radical systemic and paradigmatic change.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Last summer, media personality Tavis Smiley and Professor Cornell West undertook a 'poverty tour' of ten or eleven states, video taping as they went, and reporting on what they found on their radio program. I followed their tour intently, and I was very moved by the stories of the people they met along the way. I am interested in poverty; I think the issue is of the greatest importance in our nation, and in the world, and I am saddened that--quite literally--these are the only two people in the Last summer, media personality Tavis Smiley and Professor Cornell West undertook a 'poverty tour' of ten or eleven states, video taping as they went, and reporting on what they found on their radio program. I followed their tour intently, and I was very moved by the stories of the people they met along the way. I am interested in poverty; I think the issue is of the greatest importance in our nation, and in the world, and I am saddened that--quite literally--these are the only two people in the media covering the issue. I have studied poverty in America during my graduate studies at BU a few years back. I am also compelled to understand, and to face, poverty because of my Christian faith. I have experienced poverty as a child in a much kinder and gentler America, and I work with children living in poverty each and every day at my school. Poverty is something that is important to me, as an American, as a Catholic, as a teacher, and as a human being. It is not something I wish to avert my eyes from, even as it is often times difficult to look at. In this book, Mr. West and Professor Smiley bring the latest statistics and thinking about poverty into sharp focus, and suggest many ways we as Americans can begin to address the issues faced by the poor. Tragically, the Great Recession has created a large group of folks who have descended into poverty, as well as deepening the poverty already being experienced by many black, Hispanic, and Native Americans. I have read many of the statistics and reports that the authors mention in their book, but having them all in one place makes it easier to see the whole picture. Homelessness, foreclosures, hunger, illness, stress, violence...it is all related to poverty, and as more and more people find it harder and harder to make it here in America, we will have a more difficult time dealing with what Samuel Johnson called "the great enemy of human happiness." According to the United States Census Bureau, 50% of all Americans are now considered to be low income or in very close proximity to low income. We as a nation have to reckon with this reality or we will face a grim future. Whether you believe the solution is more government, more charity, or some combination of both, we have to talk about, and reckon with, this most difficult and uncomfortable subject. The Romans had a saying: "The mills of the gods grind slow, but they grind exceeding fine." Too many of our people are being ground. It's not right. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-5...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carol Dickerson

    If you are looking for a book to give your conservative brother-in-law to convince him that his judgments about the poor in the U.S. and governmental priorities need reexamination, this is not it. I was hoping it might be, but it's just a sloppy book in need of a good editor. The authors throw in some barely legible graphics of poverty statistics and a thin sprinkling of narratives of real poor people they met on their "Poverty Tour." But there are not enough narratives to balance the repetitive If you are looking for a book to give your conservative brother-in-law to convince him that his judgments about the poor in the U.S. and governmental priorities need reexamination, this is not it. I was hoping it might be, but it's just a sloppy book in need of a good editor. The authors throw in some barely legible graphics of poverty statistics and a thin sprinkling of narratives of real poor people they met on their "Poverty Tour." But there are not enough narratives to balance the repetitive rants about American values and quotes from other, more inspirational writers and speakers. One particularly irritating piece that should have been caught by an editor: in chapter 3 they describe a visit of the Poverty Tour to Columbus, Mississippi, and the town resistance as personified by a person named Caradine. THey mention that she later has some sort of conversion "a miracle from God", but don't ever discuss how this happened, although they continue to belittle her reaction through the rest of the book. The book is short on reports of grass root efforts to address poverty--the kinds of things that might give us hope that we can do something while awaiting and hoping for real governmental reform of priorities. Just read Chapter 7--it's the heart of the book and the best part.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kim

    This book is a little outdated and it’s sad that things have only gotten worse. A look at previous politicians shows that being fiscally conservative or libertarian has always been a bunch of selfish, racist bullshit. I never want to hear someone say again that homeless people will use money on drugs or the ultra rich “earned” money that shouldn’t be given to someone else or that democratic socialism is “unrealistic” when we spend billions on Wall Street and the military. Shut up and pay your ta This book is a little outdated and it’s sad that things have only gotten worse. A look at previous politicians shows that being fiscally conservative or libertarian has always been a bunch of selfish, racist bullshit. I never want to hear someone say again that homeless people will use money on drugs or the ultra rich “earned” money that shouldn’t be given to someone else or that democratic socialism is “unrealistic” when we spend billions on Wall Street and the military. Shut up and pay your taxes and give a damn. If you can’t even care about starving children you’re straight up a bad person and there’s no way around it. Also fck r*nald r*agan and the bush family

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mitch C.

    Seems fitting to read this when the world is constantly battling Covid and the poor outcome it did, and still does, in everyone’s life here on Earth. Though, this book has nothing to do with current events, but as we all know, history repeats itself. Somehow it just differ how it repeats. While I’m lucky enough to be living in a rich (façade or not) country that fights the pandemic rampantly and brings back its economy relentlessly, I asked myself; what happened to the rich magnates. How are the Seems fitting to read this when the world is constantly battling Covid and the poor outcome it did, and still does, in everyone’s life here on Earth. Though, this book has nothing to do with current events, but as we all know, history repeats itself. Somehow it just differ how it repeats. While I’m lucky enough to be living in a rich (façade or not) country that fights the pandemic rampantly and brings back its economy relentlessly, I asked myself; what happened to the rich magnates. How are the billions? How much money they lost, and currently losing during this pandemic? I also thought how many now are categorized as the “new poor”. Well, I’m certainly one of them. No shame on that. But my most important question would be; how are the rest of the people that are suffering on this worldwide spiral of poverty? For obvious reasons, this book didn’t directly answer any of my questions as this tells specifically about the US economy and its poverty line during the 1990s’ up to early 2000s’. The authors even dedicated this as; “For poor people in America.” I’d say; “For poor people of the world.” There’s no denying US economy affects the rest of the world’s economy. They wouldn’t be number one if they weren’t. Though, China has been leading as top manufacturer in the world, which boosts their economy rapidly. I’m actually baffled how it happened given that, from my buying experience, “Made in China” does not exactly suggests quality. No offense, but it’s true. Try it and see for yourself. I did, however, gather some info that are silver linings or eye-openers relating to poverty all over the world; 1. Poor are no longer just the permanently unemployable, the recently incarcerated, or the mentally ill. Disheveled vagrants who push overstuffed, wobbly wheeled carts down abandoned streets, who sleep across sidewalk grates, or who stay in overcrowded shelters are no longer the reigning faces of poverty. 2. Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap, crying when you drop your food on the floor, waiting in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap, seeing how few options you have, or knowing how hard it is to stop being poor. 3. No matter how successful those who were raised in poverty become, they are haunted by the fear of reliving it. 4. Those who have actually experienced poverty in their lifetimes are better equipped to cope than those who have not. 5. The 21st-century dream had been defined by wealth and unpredictable lottery-type success, the looks and lifestyles of J.Lo, the Kardashians, P.Diddy, Justin Bieber, to name a few. 6. Poverty remains the most serious political blind spot. 7. There is no empire in the world that did not, at some point, decline or fall. Every empire, especially shortsighted societies that catered to greedy and powerful at the expense of the poor, eventually crumbled. 8. Corporate fat cats don’t see people, they see numbers. Profits are their only motivator and maximizing shareholder value. They don’t even have to look you in the eye to destroy your dreams. 9. All the rewards in our form of capitalism have been for the people at the top who can reduce the number of employees they have. That’s always the first strategy when business becomes at risk. And one “riches to rags” story captured me. They changed his real name and referred him as “Samuel” because he’s well-known in his community as a Web Designer, writer, and content provider. The “riches”: ”My wife and I were making more than a 100 grand a year. We live the middle class high life of twos – two salaries, two kids, a two-car garage attached to a four-bedroom house in a nice, quiet neighborhood. We were living the American dream.” Then, during the Great Recession, the unfathomable happened. Samuel lost his full-time job due to downsizing. He put up his own business but ran only for six months until his clients dried up. They lived “paycheck to paycheck” but incomes were cut in half. Bills started piling up quickly. They placed their children in substandard public school. Cars had been repossessed, house was in foreclosure, and he found himself in court dealing with back taxes and credit card debt. Family tension was so high it dissolves his 15-year marriage. The “rags”: ”Every day, a bill collector will call and remind me that my lack of money means I’m now a loser or a deadbeat. I live the life of a coward – afraid to answer my own door out of fear that a bill collector or someone who’s come to shut off one of my utilities will be standing there. It’s hard to see myself as a contributing member of society or as a good provider now. My pride, my sense of manhood has been nearly destroyed.” Welcome to the ranks of the poor.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I had the chance to see Tavis Smiley and Cornel West speak on the topic of poverty tonight (January 18th 2013) and decided to buy the book so I could get it signed after the talk and I ended up finishing it in just a few hours- once I started I definitely didn't want to put it down. The layout of the book is really nice- the information is well-organized, although the last section of the book- The Poverty Manifesto- seemed a bit redundant. It was broken up into 2 parts- the basic manifesto where I had the chance to see Tavis Smiley and Cornel West speak on the topic of poverty tonight (January 18th 2013) and decided to buy the book so I could get it signed after the talk and I ended up finishing it in just a few hours- once I started I definitely didn't want to put it down. The layout of the book is really nice- the information is well-organized, although the last section of the book- The Poverty Manifesto- seemed a bit redundant. It was broken up into 2 parts- the basic manifesto where each goal/idea was given a headline and a 1-3 sentence description, and then after that they went back into each point with a longer description of a few paragraphs. Maybe it was because I was starting to get tired, but it just seemed a bit unnecessary to have both, as I didn't feel that the longer descriptions really added much. Aside from that, there's a pretty decent amount of repetition of statistics, but for someone like me, being pretty new to really facing realities about poverty and the statistics, that was probably a good thing. I appreciated the amount of history that was included- it seemed like a really great way to frame the issue as I feel that it added a lot of weight to the topic, both in the need for reform, but also in showing the potential to overcome. Overall it was a great read. Like I said, even though I've watched a number of Cornel West's lectures and stuff over the years, I had actually never heard any of his stuff with Tavis Smiley and poverty isn't a topic that I gravitated to on my own, so I'm really new to the idea of looking at poverty in a really concentrated way, so I probably enjoyed the book more than someone who's been around the block a few times- it doesn't really feel like there's a lot of new information/ideas here, but for someone like me it was a great introduction!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brianna Wright

    Absolutely loved this book! I caught Tavis Smiley on an episode of Carson Daly and quickly requested it from my library. I waited for close to three months for it to fill my hold and it was well worth the wait! I read the entire thing in one night and then ended up going to buy my own copy because I found I wanted to high light important pieces and write my own notes on topics. Tavis Smiley and Cornel West break down the horrific facts of the poverty that literally is silently plaguing our countr Absolutely loved this book! I caught Tavis Smiley on an episode of Carson Daly and quickly requested it from my library. I waited for close to three months for it to fill my hold and it was well worth the wait! I read the entire thing in one night and then ended up going to buy my own copy because I found I wanted to high light important pieces and write my own notes on topics. Tavis Smiley and Cornel West break down the horrific facts of the poverty that literally is silently plaguing our country. It's written in simple terms that everyone can understand, you won't need a masters in economics to read this! :-) I feel like this is a subject that everyone should read. Poverty literally is affecting everyone in the country. There is no such thing as a "middle class" any more. It's time people wake up and call poverty for what it is.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    I agree wholeheartedly with the major premise of the book: to change poverty we must first change the language we use to think and communicate about poverty. Drawing parallels with the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, and the women's liberation movement the authors insist that change beginsby aanalyzing the stigmas and connotations and images conjured in our current lexicon. Since the great recession has impoverished so many many formerly hard working middle class Americans we mus I agree wholeheartedly with the major premise of the book: to change poverty we must first change the language we use to think and communicate about poverty. Drawing parallels with the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, and the women's liberation movement the authors insist that change beginsby aanalyzing the stigmas and connotations and images conjured in our current lexicon. Since the great recession has impoverished so many many formerly hard working middle class Americans we must seek to eradicate the image of the poor as lazy or irresponsible and instead simply define it as not having enough money. More than a simple analysis the book also offers clear advice foe not just changing the dialogue about poverty but the reality of it. There is the authors maintain a lot we can do.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sam Orndorff

    YES. yes yes yes. Cornel West is my hero. And that's a bold statement, coming from a true cynic. Tavis is also a hero of mine. If it weren't for their compassion and encouragement I would not be able to contain my rage about the assault on the poor. Hearing their weekly radio show is the only reason I don't have to go to church. And I'm an atheist so you know I have no moral barometer, every godless day brings me one step closer to murdering a dozen lobbyists. Smiley & West bring me peace in thi YES. yes yes yes. Cornel West is my hero. And that's a bold statement, coming from a true cynic. Tavis is also a hero of mine. If it weren't for their compassion and encouragement I would not be able to contain my rage about the assault on the poor. Hearing their weekly radio show is the only reason I don't have to go to church. And I'm an atheist so you know I have no moral barometer, every godless day brings me one step closer to murdering a dozen lobbyists. Smiley & West bring me peace in this senseless world. I've studied poverty and 'development' economics for years and this text was even more enlightening than I could have anticipated, just explosively compelling. You're in the middle class so it is your moral imperative to READ IT and go do something for your community.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hollie

    Two great minds with so much wisdom and yet I got the impression that this book was hastily written and produced. (Typos?!) Read the actual poverty manifesto, it's chapter 7 I think, and you will find the most valuable parts of this book. Suitable for high schoolers and up. Helpful stats and anecdotes throughout, though failed to enlighten or inspire me as their brilliant show and live lectures do. Good material for reflection during the upcoming election. Two great minds with so much wisdom and yet I got the impression that this book was hastily written and produced. (Typos?!) Read the actual poverty manifesto, it's chapter 7 I think, and you will find the most valuable parts of this book. Suitable for high schoolers and up. Helpful stats and anecdotes throughout, though failed to enlighten or inspire me as their brilliant show and live lectures do. Good material for reflection during the upcoming election.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Mind you, I don't mind reading statistics and percentages...but I think the average person would be quickly disenchanted with this (similar to my review of Jesse Ventura's book). Nevertheless, this was still an informative book and a quick read, and I appreciated the fact that the authors criticized both political parties, although I did feel at certain points in the book that they were endorsing one political party. Mind you, I don't mind reading statistics and percentages...but I think the average person would be quickly disenchanted with this (similar to my review of Jesse Ventura's book). Nevertheless, this was still an informative book and a quick read, and I appreciated the fact that the authors criticized both political parties, although I did feel at certain points in the book that they were endorsing one political party.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I LOVED THIS BOOK; I couldn't put it down! Such an easy read- it clearly explains difficult topics and has several charts and graphs to illustrate the history of poverty in the US. I have a better understanding of our current economic crisis after reading this book and feel even more informed to defend those living in poverty when I hear people playing the blame game. I LOVED THIS BOOK; I couldn't put it down! Such an easy read- it clearly explains difficult topics and has several charts and graphs to illustrate the history of poverty in the US. I have a better understanding of our current economic crisis after reading this book and feel even more informed to defend those living in poverty when I hear people playing the blame game.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katie Boyd

    Disappointed. The content is fine, but more for motivating speeches or the like. I didn't feel like I was learning anything, or getting a different or more in-depth view of the situation. I felt like I was listening to a motivational speech. A good one. But not what I'm looking for in a full book. Disappointed. The content is fine, but more for motivating speeches or the like. I didn't feel like I was learning anything, or getting a different or more in-depth view of the situation. I felt like I was listening to a motivational speech. A good one. But not what I'm looking for in a full book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Scott Helms

    Poverty and income inequality are REAL. This book is a call to action to remedy the ills of the poor, near poor, and working poor that came at the hands of the financial crisis and every presidential administration since Reagan.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Frederic

    Preaching to the choir...

  21. 4 out of 5

    CTEP

    The Rich and The Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, a collaborative work by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, constructs a portrait of poverty in the United States today that is at once disheartening as well as inspiring and empowering. Based on the authors’ 3 week “Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience”, which traversed the country to engage with individuals struggling with poverty and to meet with activists and nonprofits confronting the issue on various fronts,this book balances emotional testimonies The Rich and The Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, a collaborative work by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, constructs a portrait of poverty in the United States today that is at once disheartening as well as inspiring and empowering. Based on the authors’ 3 week “Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience”, which traversed the country to engage with individuals struggling with poverty and to meet with activists and nonprofits confronting the issue on various fronts,this book balances emotional testimonies of life in poverty with a wealth of data and statistics regarding wealth inequality in the United States. West and Smiley are direct in stating their goal as wanting to bring the issue of poverty to the forefront of political debate in the United States, and to call out the systems and institutions that allow for the propagation of economic inequality. The book is rounded out by a 12 point proposal for alleviating poverty in the United States, including initiatives from instituting a living-wage to formal representation of poor people’s interests in Washington to balance well-funded lobbyists. As I work almost exclusively with unemployed or underemployed individuals, this book causes me to reflect upon the context of my service. On the one hand, looking at the greater social and economic context in which poverty occurs is dispiriting and makes the particular achievements and impacts of my service seem insignificant against the whole. On the other hand, it is a motivation to continue efforts that are relevant and affect the lives of individuals who are struggling. I believe that this book would be of value to any service member really wanting to look at the issue of poverty on both the particular, personalized level, as well its reality on the macro level. As well, the book looks at poverty through the lense of multiple demographics from women and children, to “the new poor” and the “old poor”, to blacks and latinos; making this text relatable to virtually any service site.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    If you want to understand why there are millions of poor people in America, this book is a MUST read. Poverty is a complex problem and it will be the undoing of this country if we don’t as a nation focus on understanding and solving the problem. Poverty is not a character flaw. It is a lack of money, period! This writing can help all of understand where the money is, why it is not in the system and how to infuse the society with hope and money. Capitalism needs money to function. If people do no If you want to understand why there are millions of poor people in America, this book is a MUST read. Poverty is a complex problem and it will be the undoing of this country if we don’t as a nation focus on understanding and solving the problem. Poverty is not a character flaw. It is a lack of money, period! This writing can help all of understand where the money is, why it is not in the system and how to infuse the society with hope and money. Capitalism needs money to function. If people do not have money, then capitalism can’t survive. 1% of the population holds the wealth in this country. They continue to acquire more wealth while the other 99% live or are falling into poverty. The final pages of this book outline a manifesto that could lift folks out of poverty. This writing is 8 years old now, times have only gotten worse with the politicians ignoring poverty and a year plus of Covid human and economic loss. It will take the public to demand an end to poverty. We have the resources to lift folks out, we only need the will and courage to do so.

  23. 4 out of 5

    cizi

    If you decide not to read the Manifesto, fine. At the very least, read John Scalzi's September 2005 entry, "Being Poor" - it won't even take you a full 5-minutes. Promise. Or less than 30 seconds below... Being poor is: - six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap. - crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor. - knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere. - people surprised to discover you’re not actually stupid. - people surprised to discover you’re not actually laz If you decide not to read the Manifesto, fine. At the very least, read John Scalzi's September 2005 entry, "Being Poor" - it won't even take you a full 5-minutes. Promise. Or less than 30 seconds below... Being poor is: - six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap. - crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor. - knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere. - people surprised to discover you’re not actually stupid. - people surprised to discover you’re not actually lazy. - a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap. - knowing how hard it is to stop being poor. - seeing how few options you have. - running in place. - people wondering why you didn’t leave. For the full version: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2005/09/0...

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    This book is a great look of all the things most of us can already see bits and pieces of. It's very factual and points out exactly what is the problem and why and how it has gotten this bad. While a little outdated nearly 8 years later it is still extremely relevant to matters today. I think this is something everyone should read. This book is a great look of all the things most of us can already see bits and pieces of. It's very factual and points out exactly what is the problem and why and how it has gotten this bad. While a little outdated nearly 8 years later it is still extremely relevant to matters today. I think this is something everyone should read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    J.

    I read this book in 2020, so the data presented was, pardon the term, dated. However, the mere fact that the condition presented in the book have only gotten worse in the intervening years is a testament to the validity of the work.

  26. 5 out of 5

    stephanie ann rosendorf

    Great and quick read I really enjoyed this book. If you're a fellow bookworm and are at all interested in poverty law, policy, and practice, you won't want to put this down. Great and quick read I really enjoyed this book. If you're a fellow bookworm and are at all interested in poverty law, policy, and practice, you won't want to put this down.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rafael Suleiman

    A very good book dealing with the wealth inequality in America.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    In the back of my mind I wondered "Is this book going to make me feel guilty about having a job and existing while others are suffering considerably?" However, I wanted to understand what the argument was and am glad to say it's far from any guilt propaganda, but rather educational and humane reading. I won't break down details because anyone who is inclined to read this ought to, for themselves. But here were some things that surprised me: 1. The idea that "poverty" does not look the same as it In the back of my mind I wondered "Is this book going to make me feel guilty about having a job and existing while others are suffering considerably?" However, I wanted to understand what the argument was and am glad to say it's far from any guilt propaganda, but rather educational and humane reading. I won't break down details because anyone who is inclined to read this ought to, for themselves. But here were some things that surprised me: 1. The idea that "poverty" does not look the same as it did during the Great Depression, or as we envision in our minds and from the images we have. The book also made reference to late night commercials of third-world poverty and poor people surrounded by flies, etc. We've all seen those and have an image of what "poor" looks like and therefore think we ourselves are far from it; but the authors make it clear that in the 21st century and post-manufacturing economy, poor people do indeed have luxury items (such things being cars, microwave ovens, flat-screen TVs, etc.) and can appear to be doing fine. The challenge in dealing with or facing this new kind of poverty is in how deceptive it is to both individuals faced with it and society as a whole. So, the book talks about "new poor," "near poor" and the "perennially poor" and breaks down differences and history of attitudes over time. This highlights another point which is that working class people who once thought they were solidly middle class and secure really maybe are NOT in this economy. It's a slippery slope, according to this book and it illustrates cases from people they've met that went from one grand situation to precipitously fall into another where they've exhausted all means and are living in tent cities or homeless shelters. And how could it be that extreme so quickly? How so easy??? The book talks about values, misplaced values and false impressions of comfort. 2. Also, surprising was the reminder that the current condition is a threat to democracy. Having 1 out of every 2 Americans being "poor", living paycheck to paycheck, disenfranchised, jobless, homeless- or near that, without any opportunity while a slim 1% enjoys an average of 1.3 million/year is problematic esp. because of the length of time the imbalance has remained. According to the book, this is the longest in 5 decades that the imbalance has remained. Alarmist? Maybe but historically, it points out that the greatest civilizations crumbled when they failed to look after the majority of its citizens, and the weakest of those. This was the frightening revelation for me, personally. Data, tables and charts support claims made in the book and were all pretty straight forward. One of the notable quotes in the book was from Aristotle: "In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme." But in this country, the poor have no political power. Add to that, they are looked down on, thought of as lazy and morally deficient and ignored by people and politicians. It doesn't exonerate individuals from personal responsibility but points out that greed is also built into the system that runs this country and has disenfranchised so many. So the question lingers: where are we headed as a country. 3. Book also discusses the most vulnerable people being historically women, children and minorities but that the current situation really crossed every section of race, gender, social position based on their case studies. I liked that, at the heart of the book, it wasn't about finger-pointing or pitting the rich against the poor vice versa, but rather about values and challenging people to change the way they look at the misfortunes of others so that ultimately there is a readiness to do something about it. One does not need to read this book to see in the news everyday that there is a problem on a larger scale. I appreciated the fact that it talks about individual accountability for misplaced priorities but the larger problem in dealing with people struggling is lack of compassion for others. It reviews some of the past efforts by presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Obama and FDR and also where they failed and succeeded; it didn't point fingers but it did call people out on failed policies that were mostly political. 4. Lastly, the twelve ideas proposed ranging from inflation fairness to universal food delivery system, to tax codes, the authors laid out some general ideas for alleviating the current poverty situation that is dire and being ignored. They were not in depth ideas but proposals to get the conversation started. Also included was a form letter to write to the President about demanding a White House conference on the eradication of poverty. Complete eradication of poverty is obviously not realistic right now. But I do agree that the situation can be changed, starting first with a change in attitude. A very worthwhile read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    First of all, this is a highly localized book. It is made for the people in the US and now. 50 years from now it would look ridiculous or hysterical. Than there is hardly any reason in these pages. But there is emotion. And some numbers and graphs to puzzle the ones who are not content only with the emotion. It is a shallow book. A preacher book. Christianity in its pure form, just without mentioning the deity. And it is a pity to mess up such an issue just to make a long sermon and a revival tour. First of all, this is a highly localized book. It is made for the people in the US and now. 50 years from now it would look ridiculous or hysterical. Than there is hardly any reason in these pages. But there is emotion. And some numbers and graphs to puzzle the ones who are not content only with the emotion. It is a shallow book. A preacher book. Christianity in its pure form, just without mentioning the deity. And it is a pity to mess up such an issue just to make a long sermon and a revival tour. Because there are problems. And there is misery. But Gosh forbid people might talk about freedom. There is hardly any talk about education. But everybody should have the blessing of mindless work. Unqualified jobs are harder to find. So should you care about making the workforce smarter or more creative? Gosh no! People should work. Is the life getting longer? Is there a trend to have fewer people murdered? Damnation! People should drone around. As they unemployment is high it means people are living in worse conditions. The authors, like any good christian, talk about many children. Somehow poverty is related with excessive fertility. Tavis Smiley is the poor child of a 14 child home. He is now rich and childless. Yet there is no section about contraception, about voluntary termination of pregnancy or anything related. People all over the world see America as devil land? They burn US flags? Tavis and Cornell think the warrior mistique is suffering. A man working in a factory for 20 years and boom! he is unemployed. Another one signs a temporary contract with the military. When the job is done somehow the society is eternally in debt and the said man should walk into the halls of Walhalla as a "veteran". So going back to those passages, one might find sickening that the military should be glorified. After all, if one poor, in the sense of moneyless, can sell his carcass to the state and die during the contract, than the family would receive a money prize. So that is good. The weapons industry? Excellent! This is one of the employers who is not going to move overseas. Damn the poor people of over countries who can than live productive lives without limbs! And because the authors are good christians, the omnipotent evil god of every church should not be bothered. This time is the government's job. Because the rich are too rich. And the god deaf, dumb, blind.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Reid Mccormick

    I got to see Cornel West speak back in 2008, and even though I did not see eye to eye with him on a few issues, I could not deny his energy, passion, and charisma. Ever since then I have followed Cornel West's career. I have read a number of his articles and have watched several interviews of him. I know he has written numerous best-selling books, but I was never sure which one I should start with. I finally saw The Rich and the Rest of Us written by Cornel West and media personality Tavis Smiley I got to see Cornel West speak back in 2008, and even though I did not see eye to eye with him on a few issues, I could not deny his energy, passion, and charisma. Ever since then I have followed Cornel West's career. I have read a number of his articles and have watched several interviews of him. I know he has written numerous best-selling books, but I was never sure which one I should start with. I finally saw The Rich and the Rest of Us written by Cornel West and media personality Tavis Smiley. Fighting for the poor is one of the pillars of West's philosophy and I was eager to read this work and see how he approaches the subject. As much as I wanted to like this book, I just cannot give it my (worthless) stamp of approval. My major criticism is inconsistency. At one moment the authors are talking about rebuilding America to the great country that it once was, but then quickly turn around and discuss the atrocities of America's past including genocide of Native Americans, enslavement of Africans, and abuse of child labor. It is difficult to push America as a beacon of hope when it has such an ugly past. I do appreciate that West and Smiley remain apolitical in their argument, in that they blame both democrats and republicans for this problems at hand. They would be the first admit that there is absolutely no communist or socialist in the White House right now. I really didn't get a lot of answers from this book, nor did I feel like I got a lot of good questions. The only solutions I deduced: we need to make it illegal for companies to make a lot of money and being rich is wrong. I don't think those are reasonable solutions. Here is the best quote from the book. "How can we take comfort in the phrase `One Nation Under God' when we ignore the examples of compassion dictated by Christ?"

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