So Rich, So Poor by Peter Edelman

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While it has proven to be difficult to end poverty in America, Peter Edelman is optimistic. In his book So Rich, So Poor Edelman makes a call to action. There are four prominent ideas that underpin Edelman’s reasoning throughout the book: (1) More people must understand why poverty is still so prevalent in America; (2) extreme poverty must be taken into consideration as a shocking 6 million Americans’ sole income was food stamps in 2011. This fact alone creates a sense of urgency that drives Edelman; (3) increasing income inequality should be treated as a moral issue; and (4) bold political action will be required if substantive progress will be made in alleviating poverty. Unfortunately, despite President Roosevelt’s New Deal and President Johnson’s Great Society, an increasing number of Americans reportedly experience poverty in their lifetime. Since the Clinton eras poverty-low of 11.3 percent of the population, there has been a sizable increase in the number of Americans living in poverty. By 2010, 15.1 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line (25). In a country that prides itself on the American dream that hard work will open the door to upward social mobility, these data are discouraging. Edelman argues from the beginning of his book that three major factors have influenced current trends: (1) changes in the American economy, specifically outsourcing of jobs, (2) the increase in the single-parent households, and (3) race and gender issues (xvii). Central themes that Edelman describes at length are the purported failure of the economy to help those most in need and the negative effects of the increase in the number of single-parent households (32). While I agree with Edelman that these factors have influenced curren... ... middle of paper ... ...erational, deep poverty. While there are a number of policy measures that may be made to reduce the number of people in poverty or near-poverty, quality education that is equitably accessible to all students regardless of their zip code may be the best point of entry to break the cycle. Edelman does recommend that high quality public schools should be “part of an overall urban and antipoverty strategy rather than siloed off” as a separate issue. I think, however, that Edelman’s argument would be strengthened scores by increasing his focus on education policy and reform as a tool to fight poverty as opposed to calling for augmented income redistribution, especially as education founds many of his principle arguments as I have described above. Works Cited Edelman, P. (2012). So rich, so poor: Why it’s so hard to end poverty in America. New York, NY: The New Press.

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