According to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, 14.3 percent of Americans — nearly 50 million people — were living in poverty in December. “If America’s poor founded a country,” Matt Desmond writes in his book “Poverty, By America,” “that country would have a bigger population than Australia or Venezuela. Almost one in nine Americans – including one in eight children – live in poverty. There are more than 38 million people living in the United States who cannot afford basic necessities, and more than 108 million getting by on $55,000 a year or less, many stuck in that space between poverty and security. More than a million of our public schoolchildren are homeless, living in motels, cars, shelters, and abandoned buildings.” More than 2 million American’s don’t have running water or a flushing toilet at home.” These statistics are bad enough, but when seen through the lens of institutionalized racism they are even worse. In 2019, the median white household has a net worth of $188,200, compared with $24,100 for the median Black household. And yet as Desmond writes, “spending on the nation’s thirteen largest means-tested programs – aid reserved for Americans who fall below a certain income level – went from $1,015 a person the year Ronald Regan was elected president to $3,419 a person one year into Donald Trumps’ administration. That’s a 237 percent increase.” Why does poverty on this scale exist given our affluence? Desmond argues that poverty in America is not an accident. It is by design. The majority of Americans, he writes, benefit from a system that callously exploits the poor. Joining me to discuss his book “Poverty, By America” is Matthew Desmond, professor of sociology at Princeton University.
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The Chris Hedges Report Podcast
Covering US foreign policy, economic realities, and civil liberties in American society.