Lou Hinman on $2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
I love Kathryn Edin’s book $2.00 a Day. It gives a clear, concise account of the welfare reforms that were produced by the Clinton administration. It shows how the work of academics are used by politicians.
It also gives us a vivid, unforgettable narrative that exposes the human consequences of these reforms. Poverty has long been hidden in America. But $2.00 a Day shows us how poverty has become deeper and even more hidden . Along with the super-rich, along with the growing gap between haves and have-nots, along with the destruction of families and wealth by the bank-fraud of the sub-prime mortgage disaster, there has grown an under-underclass of the super-poor — the destitute who try to survive in the wealthiest country in the history of the world on almost no money at all.
Those of us who have never missed a meal cannot know what this is like the way that the super-poor know it. But Kathryn Edin makes us look at it. She makes us look at fellow Americans whose main source of cash is selling their own plasma. At mothers of children who are forced into prostitution the pay the electrical bill. At teenagers who submit to sexual abuse to get something to eat. At young children who say they want to be dead.
What are we going to do about this? More of the Clintons (or the next generation of Democratic Party triangulators) will not fix this. The Democratic Party is not reformable. To address poverty, super-poverty, the destruction of the middle class, and the future of our children and our children’s children, there must be structural reform of our political process so that all our voices can be heard.
Lou Hinman lives in New York City and is an activist with IndependentVoting.org and the New York City Independence Clubs.