Sunday, September 20, 2015

Surviving on $2 per day.

I'm reminded of Larry Flynt's argument that war, not sex, is the ultimate obscenity. It may be time to broaden his definition a tad.

‘$2.00 a Day,’ by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer ... book review by William Julius Wilson (New York Times)

... There are various strategies that the $2-a-day poor use to survive — from taking advantage of public libraries, food pantries and homeless shelters to collecting aluminum cans and donating plasma for cash. Still, in small Delta towns “the nearest food pantry is often miles away, despite the sky-high poverty.” SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) constitutes the only real safety net program available to the truly destitute — but it cannot be used to pay the rent. “While SNAP may stave off some hardship,” the authors write, “it doesn’t help families exit the trap of extreme destitution like cash might.”

All of the $2-a-day families highlighted by Edin and Shaefer have had to double up with kin and friends at various times because their earnings were insufficient to maintain their own home. Some had to endure verbal, physical and sexual abuse in these dwellings, and the ensuing trauma sometimes precipitated a family’s fall into severe poverty.

This essential book is a call to action, and one hopes it will accomplish what ­Michael Harrington’s “The Other America” achieved in the 1960s — arousing both the nation’s consciousness and conscience about the plight of a growing number of invisible citizens. The rise of such absolute poverty since the passage of welfare reform belies all the categorical talk about opportunity and the American dream.

No comments: