Fifty years ago Michael Harrington shocked the nation with his book that detailed all the impoverished people in our society. The Other America awoke our country to the prevalence of poverty that existed without any knowledge from those who did not live in it. To the Americans at the time, the poor that Harrington speaks of are out of sight and out of mind- which is the ultimate problem at hand. This book was able to shine a different light on poverty than what was seen in the “affluent society”. There’s even rumors saying that John F Kennedy, MLK, and several other notable scholars read his book and were inspired to make a change. In Harrington’s excerpt, he states, “That the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them. They are not simply neglected and forgotten as in the old rhetoric of reform; what is much worse, they are not seen” (Harrington). What he had taken from experience was that we were ignoring the underdeveloped nation who were in great economic despair. Instead, we were focusing on those who are thriving in the U.S. or the millions of Americans who fit into this “affluent poverty”. This book was written with the optimism of a socialist movement. While that wasn’t accomplished, achievements during the time of the release of this book were still made and long-lasting effects were still very much felt.
When John K. Glabraiths wrote The Affluent Society, he breaks poverty down into two cases and stated that the poor were just simply that, poor. If you were poor, it was due to “case poverty”, the mentally afflicted, and “insular poverty”, which is the intergenerational poverty of places that modernity had left behind. But, what Harrington noticed is that he left out the millions o...
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...le want to be poor, mainly because of those implementations that were made to help those in poverty. So in result, those programs are being taken advantaged of and being used as an excuse to be lazy so everyone else can pay for the necessities they need because they “need help”. Right now we are at a pause of the abolishment of poverty, but have we even truly developed as a country or have we taken a few steps back and are just running in circles? The invisible nation isn’t so invisible any more, but maybe the country and everyone as a whole would be better if they still were? That other America isn 't what it was back then because this book laid down the start of something so much more. It’s very much alive and known, but whether or not they are striving is still a debatable question. But in America today, I often wonder if it is starting to look more “other” itself.
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