SO RICH, SO POOR by Peter Edelman


Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America
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Edelman (Georgetown University Law Center; Searching for America's Heart: RFK and the Renewal of Hope, 2001, etc.) examines the continuing problem of poverty in the United States.

The author worked for Robert F. Kennedy on poverty issues and resigned from the Clinton administration because of disagreements over welfare reform. He contends that America has come to a turning point. “We are headed in the wrong direction,” he writes. “The hole we are in is getting deeper and deeper. The costs of not doing the right thing now for all of our children are going to get higher and higher.” Though a lot has been accomplished since the 1960s—e.g., food stamps, the earned-income tax credit and the indexing of Social Security to inflation—there is still plenty of work to be done. Children are one of the author’s major litmus tests. There are more children in poverty than ever, a fact that Edelman partly attributes to the low-wage economy, which has been adopted since the ’70s, as well as the resurgence of unprecedented income inequality. “An astonishing 20.5 million people lived in extreme poverty in 2010,” writes the author, “up by nearly 8 million in just ten years, and 6 million had no income other than food stamps.” Further, there is no state in the country where a worker on the federal minimum wage would be able to pay the rent for a single or two-bedroom apartment. Edelman depicts a growing impoverished population cycling between low-income work and dependence on extended family and friends. Without serious efforts to improve the quality of employment and address community and family issues, the situation will only get worse. Unfortunately, such improvement is questionable in the current political climate.

A competent, thorough assessment from a veteran expert in the field.

Pub Date: May 29th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59558-785-5
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2012


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