We have made great steps toward eliminating poverty around the world - extreme poverty has declined significantly and seems on track to continue to do so in the next decades. Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank estimates that extreme poverty can be eliminated in 17 years. This is clearly cause for celebration.
However, this good news can make us oblivious to the fact that there are, in the United States, a significant and growing number of families who live on less than $2.00 per person, per day. That figure, the World Bank measure of poverty, is hard to imagine in this country - most of us spend more than that before we get to work or school in the morning.
In $2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Kathryn Edin and Luke Schaefer introduce us to people like Jessica Compton, who survives by donating plasma as often as 10 times a month and spends hours with her young children in the public library so she can get access to an Internet connection for job-hunting; and like Modonna Harris who lost the cashier's job she had held for years, for the sake of $7.00 misplaced at the end of the day.
They are the would-be working class, with hundreds of job applications submitted in recent months and thousands of work hours logged in past years. Twenty years after William Julius Wilson's When Work Disappears, it's still all about the work. But as Edin and Shaefer illuminate through incisive analysis and indelible human story, the combination of a government safety net built on the ability to work and a low-wage labor market increasingly designed not to deliver a living wage has delivered a vicious one-two punch to the would-be working poor.
More than a powerful expose of a troubling trend, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our central national debate on work, income inequality, and what to do about it.
$2.00 a Day is an eye-opening book but heartbreaking. It describes the daily grind and many unseen hardships of people with practically no income.
Allyson Johnson did a wonderful job narrating the book.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
I read this book months ago, and I've never forgotten it. I think about the pizza I just ordered or the amount I spend on groceries, and I wonder... if I had to live on an income of $2 per person per day... what would I do?
I am awed by the industriousness of the families profiled in this book, by their pluckiness and their togetherness, the love for their children and their spouses and their parents.
This book will change how you view poverty... and maybe that's a good thing.
42 of 45 people found this review helpful
Due to my severe disability I also receive government assistance such as HUD and Social Security and other disability benefits to get me through my life. I also work part time and earn a living and I am also a college graduate with a bachelors degree. Base on the economic status, I am consider as being as having low income, but I don't feel poor at all. I budget my money really well and live within my means and my life is pretty good. Surely, I'm not pan handling on the corner or selling my body for cash. I could also get more government assistance such as food stamps, but I choose not to because I don't want to take advantage of the system.
"$2.00 a Day" is an eye opening book on what the news doesn't want to show. We try to cover up poverty as much as possible and put them in the background as if they were scenery. Being poor is something that we all avoid, as if we made a wrong turn and find ourselves in a shady part of town, but instead of being mug, we are being stripped away from our dignity, base how we rank on the social class.
This book is very well written for someone that hasn't experienced poverty. I'm sure that the book is being read and discussed in many book clubs while having lunch that is more than $2. Unfortunately, I never experienced what it is like having my electricity cut off or going hungry and nor I never want to, but if you present this book to someone that is living under the freeway, they will probably tell you that they wish that they could make that much to survive.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
I struggled with this book in the beginning. After the introduction it picked up a bit. I don't agree with everything the author states, but why can't we create programs that reward businesses for taking risk on the long time unemployed.
it helped convey a clear picture of how welfare became what it is today.
50 of 56 people found this review helpful
This is 2015's must-read book. I highly recommend it. Hopefully it will cause some to act and demand change to the horrible situation that the poor live in in this country.
17 of 19 people found this review helpful
This book is profoundly eye opening and deserves to be the foundation for a new public debate about how our society addresses the issue of extreme, third-world like poverty in America.
22 of 25 people found this review helpful
This book should be required reading for anyone involved in policy-making regarding the poor, perhaps required reading for anyone who votes. We Americans ought to be ashamed of ourselves for allowing any child to live in such dire circumstances. We should be ashamed for blaming poor people for being poor when we have seen jobs shipped overseas, when we have allowed giant corporations to pay indecent wages and yet offer no benefits, and when we have demanded "workfare, not "welfare" but done nothing about the accompanying childcare crises. Shame on the lawmakers who cater more and more to the .01%, shame on the president who created the welfare queen myth, and shame on us for voting them in to power! I applaud these authors for a very readable, well-researched, chilling account of the new poverty in America and for their attempt to expose the idea that poor people just don't want to work for what it is: 99.9% myth.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
The awareness has to start somewhere, and this book is a good start. It tells the stories of couple of families that struggle with extreme poverty.
Some reviewer suggested that the book lacks deep political analysis and did not provide well-thought solutions, so, it is worth pointing out that this book is meant to be small in size and content, so the reader won't get overwhelmed. Basically the target audience of his book is simply: everyone!
It is worth mentioning that there are lots of factors that effect the (family) which is the core component of any society, and finance is just one factor. Poverty is a side effect of much deeper problems. The core problem lays in the moral philosophy. Take political corruption for example, why does most politicians get corrupt when they get to power?
Did you notice that broken homes (usually) yield broken homes? And even if one manages to survive a broken home and get successful, he carries a psychic scar all his life!
There are rich broken homes, poverty is just one of the factors.
We need more social studies to find out the reasons behind the decline of moral compass, and come up with radical solutions, not just get rid of the side effects.
My two cents.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
It is hard to hear about the poverty in this country, given how wealthy this nation is. It can be hard to hear, but it is also moving, the people are real, their spirits are strong, their resilience amazing. This is an important book not simply because it shows how welfare reforms have failed, and the poor don't have a voice in Govt - don't we already know that? This book is important because it puts names and faces to the struggling, and tells us how they survive through amazing obstacles. Forget about books that talk about great climbs up Mt Everest - here is a survival story for the modern age.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sensational book. An insight into poverty in America that everyone should know about. The reading is great. Only criticism I have is that many of the policy recommendations need a lot more careful thought. I would recommend this book to everyone unreservedly.
15 of 20 people found this review helpful
Easy to follow explanation of extreme poverty in a rich country. A cautionary tale for Brits.