Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Authors
Books
Features
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • The Working Poor
  • Written by David K. Shipler
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375708213
  • Our Price: $16.00
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - The Working Poor

Buy now from Random House

  • The Working Poor
  • Written by David K. Shipler
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307493408
  • Our Price: $13.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - The Working Poor

The Working Poor

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

Invisible in America

Written by David K. ShiplerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by David K. Shipler

eBook

List Price: $13.99

eBook

On Sale: November 12, 2008
Pages: 352 | ISBN: 978-0-307-49340-8
Published by : Vintage Knopf
The Working Poor Cover

Bookmark,
Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - The Working Poor
  • Email this page - The Working Poor
  • Print this page - The Working Poor
ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
EVENTS EVENTS
Tags for this book (powered by Library Thing)
poverty (63) sociology (50) non-fiction (31) economics (29)
» see more tags
Synopsis|Excerpt|Table of Contents

Synopsis

“Nobody who works hard should be poor in America,” writes Pulitzer Prize winner David Shipler. Clear-headed, rigorous, and compassionate, he journeys deeply into the lives of individual store clerks and factory workers, farm laborers and sweat-shop seamstresses, illegal immigrants in menial jobs and Americans saddled with immense student loans and paltry wages. They are known as the working poor.

They perform labor essential to America’s comfort. They are white and black, Latino and Asian--men and women in small towns and city slums trapped near the poverty line, where the margins are so tight that even minor setbacks can cause devastating chain reactions. Shipler shows how liberals and conservatives are both partly right–that practically every life story contains failure by both the society and the individual. Braced by hard fact and personal testimony, he unravels the forces that confine people in the quagmire of low wages. And unlike most works on poverty, this book also offers compelling portraits of employers struggling against razor-thin profits and competition from abroad. With pointed recommendations for change that challenge Republicans and Democrats alike, The Working Poor stands to make a difference.

Excerpt

Chapter One
Money and Its Opposite
You know, Mom, being poor is very expensive. —Sandy Brash, at age twelve

Tax time in poor neighborhoods is not April. It is January. And “income tax” isn’t what you pay; it’s what you receive. As soon as the W-2s arrive, working folks eager for their checks from the Internal Revenue Service hurry to the tax preparers, who have flourished and gouged impoverished laborers since the welfare time limits enacted by Congress in 1996. The checks that come from Washington include not only a refund of taxes withheld, but an additional payment known as the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is designed to subsidize low-wage working families. The refunds and subsidies are sometimes banked for savings toward a car, a house, an education; but they are often needed immediately for overdue bills and large purchases that can’t be funded from the trickle of wages throughout the year.

Christie, a child-care worker in Akron, earned too little to owe taxes but got $1,700 as an Earned Income Credit one year, which enabled her to avoid the Salvation Army’s used-furniture store and instead buy a new matching set of comfortable black couches and loveseats for her living room in public housing.

Caroline Payne’s check went for a down payment on her house in New Hampshire. “I used my income tax and paid a thousand down,” she said proudly. When she sold it five and a half years later and her daughter lent her money to rent a truck for her move, she planned to pay her back “when I get my taxes.”

“I’m waitin’ for my income tax to come in so I can pay my real estate taxes,” said Tom King, a single father and lumberjack who lived in a trailer on his own land.

Debra Hall, who had started at a Cleveland bakery, was keen with anticipation after filing her first tax return. “I’ll get $3,079 back! What am I gonna do with it? Pay all my bills off,” she declared, “and I haven’t had anything new in the house. Do some good with it, that’s for sure. Minor repairs on my car. The bills are first, for my credit [rating], to get all my back debts paid. It will be well spent.”

The Earned Income Tax Credit is one of those rare anti-poverty programs that appeal both to liberals and conservatives, invoking the virtue of both government help and self-help. You don’t get it unless you have some earned income, and since its payments are linked to your tax return, you don’t get it unless you file one. That leaves out low-wage workers—especially undocumented immigrants—who get paid under the table in cash and think they’re better off avoiding the IRS. By filing, however, they would end up ahead, because they’d get to keep everything they earned and would receive a payment on top of that. The benefits kick in at fairly high levels—at earnings of less than $33,692, for example, for a worker who supported more than one child in 2003. At the lower income levels, the Earned Income Tax Credit can add the equivalent of a dollar or two an hour to a worker’s wage.

Enacted in 1975, the program was expanded under Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, and in 2003 paid more than $32 billion to 18 million households. Treasury officials worry about erroneous claims, honest or fraudulent, which may rise to 27 to 32 percent of the total.1 On the other hand, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of those eligible don’t file for it,2 partly because employers and unions often don’t tell workers that it exists. The presidents of two local unions in Washington, D.C., for example, one representing janitors and the other parking garage attendants, had never heard of the Earned Income Tax Credit until I mentioned it to them. And I have not yet come across a single worker or boss who knew that with a simple form called a W-5, filed with the employer, a low-wage employee could get some of the payments in advance during the year. When I mentioned the W-5 to Debra Hall and she then asked at her bakery, the woman who handled the payroll waved her away impatiently and said she knew nothing about it. Later, the tax preparer told Debra it was better just to wait and get the payment in one lump sum after she filed her return.

It sure is better—if you’re the preparer. With cunning creativity, the preparers have devised schemes to separate low-wage workers from as much of their refunds and Earned Income Credits as feasible. The marvel of electronic filing, the speedy direct deposit into a bank account, the high-interest loan masquerading as a “rapid refund” all promise a sudden flush of dollars to cash-starved families. The trouble is, getting money costs money.

The preparers operate from sleazy check-cashing joints and from street-level outposts of respectable corporations. They do for a hefty fee what their clients could do for themselves for free with the math skills and the courage to tackle a 1040, or with a computer and a bank account to speed filing and receipt. But most low-wage workers don’t have the math, the courage, or the computer, and many don’t even have the bank account. They are so desperate for the check that they give up a precious $100 or so to get everything done quickly and correctly. “You get so scared,” said Debra Hall, who paid $95 to have her simple return done after ending twenty-one years of welfare. “I don’t know why it’s so scary, but I’d rather have it done right the first time.”

She was probably wise, because another disadvantage of being poor is that you’ve been more likely since 1999 to face an audit by the IRS. In that year, 1.36 percent of the returns filed by taxpayers making under $25,000 were audited, compared with 1.15 percent of those making $100,000 or more. The scrutiny was instigated by Republican congressional leaders who feared abuses of the Earned Income Tax Credit. In the face of bad publicity, the IRS shifted the balance in 2000 by auditing 0.6 percent of those under $25,000 versus 1.0 percent of those over $100,000. Thereafter, the audit rate tilted back and forth, to .86 and .69 percent, respectively, in 2001, then to .64 and .75 in 2002.3 In other words, as the IRS lost enforcement personnel, it dramatically reduced its scrutiny of well-to-do taxpayers, whose returns were once audited at the rate of 10 percent. This despite the fact that audits at the upper levels of income naturally tend to recover more dollars in lost revenue.

Evon Johnson never dared do another return herself after the IRS charged her $2,072 in taxes, penalties, and interest. Newly arrived from Honduras, she was working from 5 a.m. for a cleaning service in Boston that never withheld taxes and never sent her a W-2. She didn’t know they were supposed to do either. “I did my taxes, I fill it out, fine,” she said. But not so fine, evidently. “Three years after or four years after, IRS contact me saying that I owe them . . . like, $2,072. ‘Why do I owe you?’ And they say: because I didn’t declare my taxes. I say I did. . . . They say no. . . . I sent them a letter saying I was sending them $1,072 I think it was, ’cause I didn’t have no money at the time, and I was going to make small installments for the rest of the money. . . . You know what they did? I had a bank account, and they took the money from my bank account—every penny I had.” Ever since, she has happily paid $100 a year to a tax preparer, $100 a year for peace of mind. “I don’t want the IRS back on me,” she explained. “He do it and he sign it and put everything, so if any mistake, he gonna be the one who will have to deal with them.”

By the end of February, H&R Block’s storefront office on a dismal stretch of Washington’s 14th Street looked like a well-used campaign headquarters a week after Election Day. Most computer screens were dark, and the place was quiet and cavernous. All the desks were empty but one, occupied by Claudia Rivera, who used to prepare returns without charge at a library in Virginia. She and the manager, Carl Caton, didn’t have much to do now that the rush had passed, so they were happy to sit at a keyboard and explain.

Each form the taxpayer needed carried a fee: $41 for a 1040, $10 for an EIC (the Earned Income Credit), $1 for each W-2, and so on. Electronic filing cost another $25. So a simple return with two W-2s filed electronically would run $78. But it didn’t stop there. Block had a smorgasbord of services for people who lived on the edge. If you had no bank account, your refund could be loaded onto an ATM card that charged $2 per withdrawal. Or a temporary account could be opened into which the IRS payment could be deposited for a fee of $24.95. If you were enticed by Block’s offer of a “rapid refund” and wanted a check in a day or two, you paid H&R Block an additional $50 to $90, depending on the amount you were getting. The fee on 14th Street could be as much as $50 on a $200 refund, up to $90 for $2,000 or more.4

This was actually a loan, and for a very short time. Filing electronically usually gets you a check in two and a half weeks, according to the IRS, and five days sooner if it’s deposited directly into a bank account. At the most, then, the “rapid refund” loan, issued a day or two after filing, would run about fifteen days, which made the $90 fee on a $2,000 payment equivalent to an annual interest rate of 108 percent. At the least, the loan could run as little as four days, propelling the annualized rate to 410 percent on $2,000, and 2,281 percent on $200. (The highest percentage is incurred if the timing occurs perfectly: the return is filed by the IRS’s weekly deadline of noon Thursday, the loan check is not issued until after banks close Friday, the taxpayer can’t put it into his account until Monday, and the IRS is fast enough to deposit the refund directly with the lending bank the following Friday.)5

After a spate of lawsuits, a federal judge in Norfolk ordered Block to stop using the misleading term “rapid refund” in advertising loans, but Block continued with the ads by redefining “rapid refund” as a reference to electronic filing only. The company called its loan program a “refund anticipation loan,” a distinction lost on many of the low-wage workers who ventured into Block offices in search of a rapid refund. In 2000 such loans went to 4.8 million taxpayers.

Among all the working people I interviewed who used the loan service, not one understood the terms or the options. Hector and Maribel Delgado, who earned about $28,000 a year picking and packing vegetables in North Carolina, were stunned when I sat with them in their trailer, looked over their tax return, and explained how it all worked. They had paid Block $109 to prepare their return, file it electronically, and give them an advance on their payment from the IRS of $1,307.05. The form they had signed disclosed a finance charge of 69.888 percent annually, but they had not understood it. Even as Block employees presented a contract in fine print, they were trained to avoid the word “loan,” and say “two-day refunds” instead, a Maryland judge found in hearing a lawsuit on the lending practices. And the refund loans were lucrative enough to provide 8 percent of Block’s entire profits in 1999, mainly because a Block subsidiary owned a 49.99 percent interest in the loans, made by Household Bank.

Something else illicit happened to the Delgados in the Block offices. Although they filed electronically in January, a time when the IRS promises checks within a couple of weeks, “We were told we’d have to wait six to eight weeks,” Maribel said. This was patently false. “We needed the money to pay bills,” she explained. “We send one part to Mexico, another part to here. We usually send $100 every two weeks to Mexico. We have a big family.”

In 2000, after facing a decade of class-action lawsuits alleging misleading lending practices, H&R Block agreed to a $25 million settlement without admitting any wrongdoing. The only practice the company changed was to present the federally required truth-in-lending disclosures earlier in the process, according to a spokeswoman. Do employees at least explain the terms verbally? “A lot of it depends on questions customers ask,” she said. “If they ask questions, preparers are supposed to answer.” Many customers simply do not know what questions to ask.

Poverty is like a bleeding wound. It weakens the defenses. It lowers resis- tance. It attracts predators. The loan sharks operate not only from bars and street corners, but also legally from behind bulletproof glass. Their beckoning signs are posted at some 10,000 locations across the country: “Payday Loans,” “Quick Cash,” “Easy Money.” You see them in check-cashing joints and storefront offices in poor and working-class neighborhoods. They have organized themselves into at least a dozen national chains, and they charge fees equivalent to more than 500 percent annualized interest.

They also provide a much needed service. Say you’re short of cash, and the bills are piling up, along with some disconnection notices. Payday is two weeks away, and your phone and electricity will be shut off before then. The guy at the local convenience store, who has a booth for cashing checks, throws you a lifeline. If you need $100 now, you write him a check for $120, postdated by two weeks. He’ll give you the $100 in cash today, hold your check until your wages are in your bank account, and then put the check through. Or you can give him the $120 in cash when you get it, and he’ll return your check. Either way, 20 percent interest for two weeks equals 1.428 percent a day, or 521 percent annually.

If you’re still stuck after payday, if your paycheck doesn’t quite cover your needs, or if your check for $120 bounces, no problem. The guy behind the bulletproof glass will gladly roll over your loan—for another $20. This pattern prevails in Illinois, for example, where state examiners found that rollovers made up 77 percent of all payday loan transactions. The average customer had ten such renewals, which meant paying fees totaling up to twice the amount borrowed.6 Eventually, you may have to borrow from another payday loan merchant to pay the fees at the first. And so on and on and on.

Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction
At the Edge of Poverty

Chapter One
Money and Its Opposite

Chapter Two
Work Doesn’t Work

Chapter Three
Importing the Third World

Chapter Four
Harvest of Shame

Chapter Five
The Daunting Workplace

Chapter Six
Sins of the Fathers

Chapter Seven
Kinship

Chapter Eight
Body and Mind

Chapter Nine
Dreams

Chapter Ten
Work Works

Chapter Eleven
Skill and Will

Epilogue

Notes
Index
David K. Shipler|Author Q&A|Author Desktop

About David K. Shipler

David K. Shipler - The Working Poor

Photo © Deborah I. Shipler

DAVID K. SHIPLER reported for The New York Times from 1966 to 1988 in New York, Saigon, Moscow, Jerusalem, and Washington, D.C. He is the author of six previous books, including the best sellers Russiaand The Working Poor, as well as Arab and Jew, which won the Pulitzer Prize. He has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and has taught at Princeton, American University, and Dartmouth. He writes online at The Shipler Report.

Author Q&A

A Conversation with David K. Shipler

Q: In the mid-1990s, while many Americans were celebrating their growing financial prosperity, you decided to explore the lives of working Americans living in poverty.  Yet, you write in The Working Poor:  “Poverty is an unsatisfying term, for poverty is not a category that can be delineated merely by the government's dollar limits on annual income.  In real life, it is an unmarked area along a continuum, a broader region of hardship than the society usually recognizes.”  Can you tell us more about how you've learned to define poverty?  If a worker achieves a certain level of income, what makes him or her poor?

A: If you look only at income, you miss a lot of what poverty is about. Poverty is not just financial but also psychological, not just absolute but also relative, not just a lack of comfort but also a lack of opportunity to participate fully in a society’s benefits. The financial aspect of poverty comes in several parts—not just income, but also net assets. Someone who looks good in the census tables by earning $30,000 may actually be in deep trouble, owning no home and owing tens of thousands in credit card debt. Someone who has food and water and shelter—the absolute essentials—may live in relative hardship on the margin of American society, where missing one paycheck can bring catastrophe. That edge of extreme anxiety colors people’s ability to function as workers and as parents, and creates a cycle that is hard to break.

Q: You noticed in your research that, while many people (social workers, educators, health care professionals) spend their careers trying to help the poor, the one thing they rarely do is approach employers to provide better wages, benefits, and more family-friendly hours.  Why this reluctance?

A: It may be the society’s deep regard for private enterprise that leads most of them to see ultimate justice in the free market, from which there is no appeal. They understand the competitive pressures on business—or they see entrepreneurs as greedy--and don’t expect employers to be any more generous than they have to be. That’s why laws and labor unions exist, to demand more of business that it would otherwise provide. But I think those in the helping professions might be surprised by how far they could get with some employers, if they tried making pleas in specific cases.

Q: You point out that few people who protest against globalization realize that they don't have to look outside the U.S. to find sweatshops.  Where in the U.S. did you find them, and how do they manage to operate given our labor laws?

A: I found sweatshops especially rampant in the Los Angeles garment district, where small companies materialize and evaporate quickly, and employ mostly undocumented immigrants. Dangerous, low-wage working conditions exist throughout the U.S. in many industries. Labor laws are easily evaded, simply because the U.S. Labor Department and most state agencies don’t have enough inspectors for proper enforcement. The Labor Department has even posted on its Web site tips on how employers can avoid paying overtime. One recommendation: reduce hourly wages the equivalent amount of the overtime pay. In other words, the Labor Department suggests that low-wage employees work more hours for the same pay.

Q: The migrant farm workers you interviewed had managed to obtain false security cards and green cards.  They and their employers knew the cards were fake.  Why and how does this system operate?  How do you think these migrant workers would be affected by President Bush's proposal to give renewable visas to illegal immigrants?

A: Forgery networks operate wherever there are illegal aliens, and since employers are rarely prosecuted for hiring undocumented workers, they have no motivation to do careful checks. Farmers in North Carolina told me that they couldn’t operate without illegal Mexican laborers. The same is true far to the north. I remember one summer hearing two news reports in Maine. First, the blueberry crop was one of the best ever. Second, state troopers and immigration officials had set up roadblocks on the Maine Turnpike to intercept illegal aliens coming to harvest the crop! So, we work at cross purposes with ourselves. In theory, the Bush proposal would resolve the conflict by matching foreign workers with the country’s labor needs. It will be helpful if the workers are permitted to move from job to job, and if its detailed mechanism doesn’t turn it into a bureaucratic mess that most workers and employers will want to avoid.

Q: Employers complain that they can't find enough workers with basic reading and math skills, yet they still hire such people for janitorial and food service jobs with little or no chance for advancement.  What could be done differently to improve the skills, and thus the career prospects, of these workers?

A: Many employers also say they don’t need workers with the “hard skills” of reading and math, but rather with the “soft skills” of punctuality, diligence, anger management, and the like. To improve life opportunities, we need a broad system of vocational schools, such as those in much of Europe, involving both private industry and boards of education. These would teach young people who don’t go to college, many of whom don’t have marketable abilities even if they graduate from high school with few marketable abilities. The U.S. has adopted a “college-for-all” approach that leaves many with neither the diplomas nor the skills. They can’t compete, and they fall through the cracks of the global economy. For older workers, a more extensive network of solid job-training programs, tightly linked with local business, has to teach both hard and soft skills and prepare people for jobs that actually exist. Such programs also need to boost self-esteem and reduce fear of the workplace, two psychological obstacles to workers’ success.

Q: How does an immigrant family make it in the U.S.?  Most face significant debt, lack of education, and language barriers.  What must a family do to overcome these barriers rather than remain in perpetual poverty?

A: The successful immigrant families I found seemed to possess three important characteristics: English, education, and multiple wage-earners. Learning English is essential to open opportunity in the U.S. Without the language, they’ll be confined to a ghetto of their compatriots in marginal jobs. Higher education is a prerequisite to upward mobility, especially for the second generation. And a household where everyone works, even at minimum wage, collects enough cash every week to build savings, which avoids indebtedness and can bring an enhanced lifestyle. There are many less tangible qualities as well: thrift, a relentless sense of purpose, a belief in self, a tireless resistance to defeat. Immigrants who have not learned their own language well, who can barely read and write in Spanish, say, usually have immense difficulties learning English.

Q: What about the emotional dynamics of impoverished families?  Several of the individuals you profile in the book have struggled with domestic abuse and neglect.  This is a sensitive topic because impoverished families are often associated with dysfunction.  What's true?  What's exaggerated?  Is there a strong link between poverty and hostile households?

A: I can’t say that poor families are more inclined to suffer domestic abuse and dysfunction. I’m quite sure, though, that such problems are more damaging to poor families than to the affluent. The poor, living on the edge of crisis, are as vulnerable to a reversal as a person with a rundown immune system is to disease. Problems interact with one another, magnify one another, and create chain reactions. An editor with family problems will get more leeway on his job than a janitor will. Affluent families can buy help—from child care to therapy--and can wall off one difficulty from another. Many poor parents are highly stressed and experience untreated (and perhaps undiagnosed) clinical depression. Many poor mothers told me that they had been sexually abused as children, and we know that such an experience can lead to emotional closing down, a sense of powerlessness, and difficulties forming long-term relationships, especially with men. I don’t think we know whether the incidence of sexual abuse is higher among the poor than among the rich. However, I think it’s reasonable to believe that the impact of the abuse is more damaging to life opportunities among the poor.

Q: Over 40 million Americans have no health insurance, and those at the very bottom of the pay scale can be devastated by an inability to afford treatment.  Is there a realistic way to provide affordable health care to so many people?

A: Of course. Dislodge the health insurance system from the workplace and create a single-payer (government) or combination of private-government insurance to cover everyone. It would probably cost the country less in the long run—certainly not more than we’re paying now, if we include emergency room visits, absenteeism, birth defects, and other results of inadequate care. There is no rational reason why we should get health insurance through our jobs, any more than we should get auto insurance that way. At the moment, actually, those at the very bottom, covered by Medicaid, are better off than many who work but who can’t afford the premiums their employers charge.
Employer-based insurance, whose costs have soared, also burdens small business excessively and increases the risk of entrepreneurship.

Q: What about the link between poor housing and poor health?  How can we secure decent housing for all low-income workers?

A: The spike in children’s asthma has been attributed in large part to deteriorated housing, where mold, roach sheddings, mites, and dampness trigger attacks of the disease, which send kids to hospitals at great expense. Crowded housing also creates stress, and brain scientists are beginning to understand the neurological connections between stress and long-term cognitive impairment. Better housing will require major investment by government. Again, it may save money in the long run, but making those savings visible will be difficult, and the effort will be a hard sell politically. Section Eight vouchers, used by the poor to supplement rent, are a good way to start, because they can be increased simply by an infusion of more dollars. Government construction of public housing—but not huge high-rises such as some in Chicago and New York—will be unavoidable. Dispersing the housing in more affluent communities is desirable, too, because the distillation of the deeply poor in concentrated projects has been damaging. Dispersal is hard to make happen politically, however. Then, too, existing housing could be brought up to standard by vigorous code enforcement, and perhaps low-interest loans to landlords.


Q The instability of impoverished households affects the performance of poor children in school, and these struggling young students find it difficult to believe that education will truly bring them opportunities.  Can better teaching and more funding for education make a significant difference?

A: Yes, but education is an area where only broad assaults on a full range of problems will make real change. Without concentrated assistance for poor families outside of school, more funding may have only marginal effect. If a kid comes to school hungry, she’s not going to learn well. Learning is discretionary, says Dr. Deborah Frank, a noted pediatrician. It happens only after you’re well fed, safe, and warm. Schools need to become gateways through which families can pass into a broad array of services, from nutrition to housing to parenting instruction.

Q: You researched programs that train ex-welfare recipients for the workplace.  Are these programs successful?  By the standards of employers or employees, or both?  What are the key components to successful training programs?

A: Successful programs train the whole person, not just in how to operate a lathe or a computer, but also in how to engage courteously with others, how to speak and work intelligently, and how to feel a sense of worth. Employers who complain that people don’t call when they’re not coming to work often don’t realize, as one low-income woman told me, that many people don’t think they’re important enough for their bosses to care. So, training has to give them a sense of value, and also has to teach employers what’s going on for folks who’ve failed again and again and again—in school, in marriage, in child-rearing, in work.

Q: Despite shifts in U.S. federal and state administrations over the past few decades, you contend that neither the liberal nor the conservative agenda for dealing with poverty is sufficient.  In this election year, is there a chance for that to change?  How?

A: Both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans have it wrong, in my view. Each sees only a piece of the problem, and therefore just a piece of the solution. Liberals are partly right when they blame private industry for exploitation and blame government for inadequate social programs. Conservatives are partly right when they blame individuals for mistaken decisions and blame decaying families for the erosion of values needed for success. To see the reality, we need to see through both of these lenses, not just one or the other. Liberals and conservatives should stop shouting at each other and start working with each other. They should borrow from the each other’s legitimate ideas to mount a broad attack on the wide spectrum of problems facing the working poor. Will this happen in an election year? Only if we, the people, demand that our candidates reach past ideology and partisanship to address an issue that shames us all, as a whole nation.


From the Hardcover edition.

Author Q&A

Watch two-minute video clips in which Shipler talks about how he came to write the book, and what the experience has been like. He also offers a list of anti-poverty organizations he believes in. Many helped him research the book. We hope this helps you help them.

Praise

Praise

"This is clearly one of those seminal books that every American should read and read now." --The New York Times Book Review

" An essential book. . . . It should be required reading not just for every member of Congress, but for every eligible voter." --The Washington Post Book World

“Sensitive, sometimes heart-rending . . . . A vivid portrait of the struggle of the working poor to acquire steady, decently paid employment.” –Commentary

"Insightful and moving. . . . Shipler writes with enormous grace [and] he captures the immense frustration endured by the working poor as few others have." --The Nation

"Welcome and important. . . . Shipler manages to see all aspects of poverty--psychological, personal, societal--and examine how they're related. . . . There is much here to ponder for conservatives and liberals alike." —The Seattle Times
David K. Shipler

David K. Shipler Events>

David K. Shipler - The Working Poor

Photo © Deborah I. Shipler

5/13/2015

,
12pm
Confirmed
Map It
5/14/2015

,
7pm
Confirmed
Map It
5/19/2015

,
7:30pm
Confirmed
Map It

  • The Working Poor by David K Shipler
  • January 04, 2005
  • Social Science - Sociology
  • Vintage
  • $16.00
  • 9780375708213

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: