On Tuesday, July 25th, 2023, people from across the country joined Politics for the People host Cathy Stewart for a virtual discussion with Matthew Desmond, about his recent book: POVERTY, BY AMERICA.
You can watch the full video below:
Cathy Stewart kicked off our conversation with the following question:
Thank you so much for this book – such a chilling portrait of the inhumane cost of the levels of poverty in the US, and a provocative and urgent call to all of us to act, to become poverty abolitionists.
One of the things you write in the book that stays with me, and in fact should haunt us all is the simple sentence, “Poverty is an injury, a taking.”
You talk about how poverty in the US looks different and is more severe than in other advanced democracies and comparable economies. Can you talk about what that looks like and why this is the case?
Matthew Desmond responded:
“Well it’s an honor to be back. It’s good to see you post pandemic. Thank you so much for having me.
I think when we talk about America and what makes us different as a country, I think there are a lot of wonderful things that make us different and stand out as a country. But there are other things too and we really do stand out with respect to our poverty rate. So, if you look at our child poverty rate, the percentage of kids below the poverty line in America, it’s not just more than Germany or South Korea, it’s double. It’s double the rate. We have about 38 million Americans living below the official poverty line. If they all formed a country that country would be bigger than Australia or Venezuela.”
One in three of us live in homes making fifty five thousand dollars or less, many of those folks aren’t officially counted as poor but what else do you call it, you know? Living in Portland, Oregon or Austin, Texas trying to raise two young kids on 55K. So there’s an incredible amount of economic insecurity in America that sets us apart from other advanced democracies, especially with respect to the amount of riches in this land, of dollars, and you asked “why.” And I think in a nutshell the answer is because we like it in a way. We benefit from it. Now there’s pains to this and I think poverty encroaches on all of us in a way, and it’s a threat to all of us even those of us are very secure in our money. But I think at the end of the day we have to face a cold hard fact that many of us benefit from poverty, unwittingly, sometimes wittingly, and this book is trying to get us to realize that. It’s trying to get us to take action to unwind ourselves, to divest from our neighbors’ suffering.
Watch the full conversation above.
Stay tuned for a full transcript!
Here are the links for the announcements:
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