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My latest read was a hard pill to swallow...

Updated: May 3, 2023

I read this book because I am saddened by the poverty I see and read about; the tent cities I pass on the freeways, the ragged looking people walking the streets near where I live, the people who show up weekly at the food pantry where I work. I read and respect Matthew Desmond's first book, “Evicted,” and hoped I could learn from this one too.

It is well researched and well written. Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. (This was shocking to me.) Those of us who are financially secure exploit the poor, driving down their wages while forcing them to overpay for housing and access to cash and credit. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty, designing a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least. And we stockpile opportunity in exclusive communities, creating zones of concentrated riches alongside those of concentrated despair.

According to Desmond, some lives are made small so that others may grow.

Since I am one of those who has worked hard - went to school at night while working during the day, graduated without student debt, then limited my spending so I could save, I am financially secure. I have taken advantage of the legal subsidies I was offered- job-paid healthcare, 401K deductions, housing-interest tax deduction, 529 savings plan for my kid’s college, I am complicit, but am not sure what I as one person would or could change, other than vote for people like the current President who is trying to change things to even out the playing field, and offer more benefits to those who need it- college-tuition reimbursement, subsidized childcare, etc. I am glad I read it, but it was a hard read. I am more informed but feel more guilty. Still, I recommend it. I think we should all read it and then decide what we can or should do as a person, and as a country. My hope is that the more we read, think, and talk about it, the more we as a people will be moved to systematic change in how we view people who are affected poverty as people first, and needy, second. What do you think?

My memoir Redeemed, A memoir of a Stolen Childhood is coming out on June 25, 2024. Keep checking for book cover and other details.

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