While John Edwards’ campaign and personal judgment certainly left a lot to be desired, I admired him for being the Presidential candidate most interested in the issue of poverty in the United States. It’s an issue that certainly hasn’t received the political attention it deserves, other than attacks on the poor coming from the Right.
I was especially excited when poverty was chosen as the high school debate topic for the 2009-10 school year. It gave me a reason to do a lot of reading about the subject, and it certainly can’t hurt to have some of the brightest young minds in the country thinking about and debating solutions to the poverty problem.
That’s all a long lead into suggesting that anyone interested in poverty give Edward Royce’s Poverty and Power: A Structural Perspective on American Inequality a read. Royce thoroughly debunks the pervasive conservative deficit narrative that blames for the poor for their poverty, refusing to concede the structural flaws that makes poverty persist:
The poor are not victims of their own failings; they are victims of an unresponsive political system. In this era of rising inequality, rather than stepping in to assist the millions of Americans struggling to keep their heads above water, elected officials have enacted tax, spending, and regulatory measures that only reinforce the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.
It’s a well-researched and interesting book. I highly recommend it, doubly so for those who will probably never read it. 🙂