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The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto [Kindle Edition]

Tavis Smiley , Cornel West

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Record unemployment and rampant corporate avarice, empty houses but homeless families, dwindling opportunities in an increasingly paralyzed nation—these are the realities of 21st-century America, land of the free and home of the new middle class poor. Award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, one of the nation’s leading democratic intellectuals, co-hosts of Public Radio’s Smiley & West, now take on the “P” word—poverty.

The Rich and the Rest of Us is the next step in the journey that began with “The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience.” Smiley and West’s 18-city bus tour gave voice to the plight of impoverished Americans of all races, colors, and creeds. With 150 million Americans persistently poor or near poor, the highest numbers in over five decades, Smiley and West argue that now is the time to confront the underlying conditions of systemic poverty in America before it’s too late.

By placing the eradication of poverty in the context of the nation’s greatest moments of social transformation— such as the abolition of slavery, woman’s suffrage, and the labor and civil rights movements—ending poverty is sure to emerge as America’s 21st ‑century civil rights struggle.

As the middle class disappears and the safety net is shredded, Smiley and West, building on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., ask us to confront our fear and complacency with 12 poverty changing ideas. They challenge us to re-examine our assumptions about poverty in America—what it really is and how to eliminate it now.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 622 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 234 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 1401940633
  • Verlag: SmileyBooks (17. April 2012)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B007ST4B1U
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #369.052 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.0 von 5 Sternen  83 Rezensionen
119 von 131 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Down-sizing the American Dream 18. April 2012
Von Herbert L Calhoun - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
The "Smiley/West Show" has taken to the road. Two giants of American Christian patriotism have joined forces to wage a war, not on, but for, the poor. Together they give a new much-needed high profile voice to the "the least of us." And even though they do not yet know how they are going to pull it off, their ultimate goal is nothing less than to help restore the American dream - the one that has been "outsourced," "down-sized," "sodomized," and then bludgeoned to death by our corporate overlords and their elected whores in both of the political parties - both of whom have abandoned the poor, and both of whom dance to the tunes of their corporate paymasters.

According to these authors, so far in the 2012 Presidential campaign, the spoke-persons for neither political party have been able to shape their lips to form the word "poor," or vocalize the word "poverty."

Smiley and West, the "last-standing" champions of the poor, are "walking their talk," as they "end-run" the "bought-and-paid for," impotent and purposefully dysfunctional American political process. They go straight to the doorsteps of the people on the frontlines of the strategically engineered Wall Street war against them called the Wall Street meltdown and also euphemistically referred to as our new globalized economy. From their vantage point, the shock and trauma to what used to be called the "middle-class" (but is now version 2.0 of the poor) is incalulatable!

In this short but tightly written book, this fearsome-twosome share with us what they have learned as they listened to the poor, took careful notes, and then used this book as a way to get the poor's message out. And what they discovered is both shocking and disheartening: that there is a new kind of poverty "out there." It is version 2.0 of the pre-WW-II poverty, one that is a direct result of a "new kind of jointly arranged and agreed to bipartisan political neglect."

According to these authors, the new poverty is not based on the old notions that used to equate poverty with having done something wrong (like making bad choices, being lazy and unwilling to work, carrying too much debt, falling off the alcohol wagon, or lacking education and training, etc.) No, in the new poverty of 2012, a third who fall into the category are the "working poor" that actually have full-time jobs, often with more than one family member working? They just are not being paid a "living wage." Plus, because of our weak kneed and corrupt politicians, the corporations they work for have been allowed to treat them, our American workers, like newly-minted indentured servants: They must work long arbitrary hours, with no unions to defend their interests, no medical, retirement or other benefits. In short, they are effectively " contract employees" on their own with no protections, no social safety net and only more neglect from our elected representatives. The new rule is: maximum profits for the corporation and its shareholders by definition means maximum insecurity for the U.S. worker. In this version 2.0 of American poverty, the U.S. middle-class worker is not just one paycheck away from poverty, but also one layoff away and one sickness away as well?

Continuing their revelations, these intrepid authors tell us that just like "50" is the new "40," the "old middle-class" is now the "new version 2.0 of the poor." In short, they tell us that due to outsourcing, valuing hedge fund speculation over hard work, and privatizing every function in sight, the middle-class is no more. It is kaput. Comprende?

Finally, these authors discovered that there is a close and direct connection between this new brand of poverty and new forms of "systemic neglect." The most important of them is best seen in the "good cop-bad cop political con/blame game played on us by the two political parties. Each side tosses symbolic ideological red meat over the fence like a tennis ball, and like the well-trained dogs we are, we chase after the ball while behind our backs they are busy serving their rich donor clients, all the while giving us a Kabuki dance of publicly trading blame for not being able to "deliver the goods" and otherwise get the "people's business done."

And while this red meat version of "chase the tennis ball" may work fine for their "big dog" super rich donors, who get their political payback by sliding their hefty contributions over the transoms of the backrooms on K-street, for us it does not work. What the "Big Dog donors" get in return for their money is the right to change all the rules and laws so that they then fit (and legitimize) the crimes they are preparing to commit. We, the middle-class and the poor, on the other hand, are left holding the bag and in the process, our democracy is gutted. In exchange for our vote, we just get more ideologically seasoned red meat, tossed over the fences at us like we are the dumb animals we are. Along with this dog breakfast called American politics, we also get to "wash it down" with a barrel full of excuses, a healthy dose of two-way blame called political gridlock, and bushels filled with promises that in the next election cycle everything will be different?

Then, of course this cycle just repeats itself: we are again "forced fed" a new diet of ideologically salted red meat, sprinkled (liberally or conservatively) with more false promises. Gagging on all this highly seasoned red meat, stuffed with blame and false promises is the "loud sucking sound" one hears as the American Dream gets flushed down the toilet.

What would we do without Smiley and West: run out like dumb animals and again vote for Obama or Romney? (Naw, I don't think so. I sense that these authors may agree that this time, it might be better to stay home.) A great and timely read that will make you foaming-at-the-mouth mad at the way the poor is being treated in particular, and at the U.S. political process more generally. A well-deserved Five Stars.
22 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Pick of the Day 25. April 2012
Von S. Sherman - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Just in time for the fall presidential election campaign, talk show host Tavis Smiley and philosopher Cornel West attempt to force poverty back into the national discourse. "The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto" expands on themes developed during their nationwide bus tour last year. On Democracy Now!, they argued that one out of two Americans struggles with poverty. "You take the perennially poor or the persistent poor, on top of them the new poor--we argue in this book the new poor are the former middle class--and the near poor, folk who are a paycheck away, that's 150 million Americans wrestling with poverty," Smiley said.

The book's website declares "by placing the eradication of poverty in the context of the nation's greatest moments of social transformation--the abolition of slavery, woman's suffrage, and the labor and civil rights movements--ending poverty is sure to emerge as the defining civil rights struggle of America's 21st century ." Stephen Colbert, predictably, had a critical perspective, which he shared with the authors when they were guess on his show. ""The Rich and the Rest of Us:" that is class warfare... I believe there is one America! One America, sir, that the richest 1% just happens to own 42% of." (originally posted at left eye on books org)
23 von 30 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Three stars for effort 10. Mai 2012
Von John R. Washington - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I expected a much more convincing argument from these two minds. The statistics were often confusing, contradictory, and unconvincing. Anecdotal evidence is weak without the larger statistical evidence to back it up. The authors make some excellent points however, and the fact that they are among a very few really driving for solutions to poverty is commendable. Given the connections and status of these individuals, I was left wondering why they didn't utilize more authorities on the subject and reference stronger academic studies in the book.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen It's more complicated than that 13. August 2014
Von Dienne - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I read a large chunk of this book sitting in my car in the leafy suburban paradise of River Forest, Illinois while waiting for my daughters at a birthday party. It is a suburb of Chicago filled with $300,000+ single family homes, well-manicured lawns, good schools and safe places for children to play. There are probably at least a couple dozen suburbs of similar affluence in the metro Chicago are.

I live a couple suburbs over in the more working-class/blue collar Town of Cicero. Cicero has some pockets of deep poverty and has had a fair number foreclosed/abandoned homes and other evidence that the Recession hit hard. Nonetheless, Cicero is not blighted and the neighborhoods have mostly held on. The schools are decent, if a bit crowded and it’s not unsafe for children to play outside. There are also probably dozens of Chicago suburbs similar to Cicero.

I bring up these two suburbs as examples to illustrate my main concern with Smiley and West’s manifesto on poverty: the black and white division between “the rich” and “the rest of us”. I’m going to guess that very few people in River Forest consider themselves “rich”, despite their average family incomes approaching or exceeding the six-figure mark. Indeed, I would be surprised if very many River Forest residents are in the 1%, let alone the 0.01% who actually control the nation and the world.

On the other hand, despite its comparative lesser wealth, I doubt many people in Cicero consider themselves really poor. I would guess that more Cicero residents than River Forest residents are struggling to make ends meet, but by-and-large people are managing to stay in their homes, the Catholic Schools fill up each year and the food pantry, while well-patronized, is not overrun. All of which is to say that, while I agree that income and wealth inequality is real and rising, it’s really not the way I’d guess that most people view the nation. Poverty is certainly on more people’s radar and probably a growing concern for more of the lower middle and working classes, but it’s not (yet?) a reality for most Americans and presenting this book in such black/white terms is really not going to win over those still in the middle, especially those who enjoy moderate affluence and don’t appreciate feeling demonized. I think it would have behooved Smiley and West to define their terms and demarcate their lines more clearly and acknowledge that there still is a middle class, albeit a shrinking one.

My other issue is that this book is fairly shallow and superficial. It is definitely easy to read – each chapter is broken down into sections that take up no more than a page or two, often off-set with quotes, charts and statistics. But this ease comes at the expense of depth. To adequately cover the nuances involved in discussing poverty, one could easily fill a book twice this size. As just one example, an in depth discussion of the complicated and mutually interacting relationship between poverty and education (and how both are influenced by the privatization of public assets) could have been very beneficial and enlightening. But instead, Smiley and West seemed content to stick with statistics that we have all heard before and sound bites that you already agree or disagree with – there is nothing here that is going to change anyone’s mind.

I do give Smiley and West credit for trying to start a conversation on a very difficult topic that most of us would prefer to brush away with platitudes about bootstraps. The most powerful parts of the book are the unfortunately too brief profiles of actual people now living in poverty since the Great Recession. And I credit them with offering positive solutions to the problem, even if they do hedge that there is probably not enough “political will” to accomplish such visions.

But there again, I wish they would have delved into the concept of “political will” a bit deeper. In a democracy, “political will” comes from the people making demands upon their elected officials. If nearly half the country is living at or near the poverty line, why isn’t this being translated into “political will”? Sure, they talk about the toxic role of money in controlling the political process. But last I heard, it’s still one person, one vote, not one dollar, one vote. So where does the apathy of the American people come from that tolerates this situation? Why do we keep voting for candidates who don’t represent our interests? We could look, for instance, at our “two party” system in which both parties serve the same corporate behemoths (but that might require criticizing the first black president). We could look at the resistance to third parties, even among those who declare themselves fed up with the two major parties. We could look at the effects of fear, demagoguery, trauma and toxic stress and how those factors are manipulated to continue the “political divide” that benefits the elite. In short, there are any number of avenues that Smiley and West could have explored in depth that could have made this a much more powerful book. Of course, I guess that would have made it a longer and more difficult book to read, and I suppose we’re all too apathetic for that.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Wanted to like it. Couldn't 11. September 2013
Von Reid Mccormick - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I got to see Cornel West speak back in 2008, and even though I did not see eye to eye with him on a few issues, I could not deny his energy, passion, and charisma. Ever since then I have followed Cornel West's career. I have read a number of his articles and have watched several interviews of him.

I know he has written numerous best-selling books, but I was never sure which one I should start with. I finally saw The Rich and the Rest of Us written by Cornel West and media personality Tavis Smiley. Fighting for the poor is one of the pillars of West's philosophy and I was eager to read this work and see how he approaches the subject.

As much as I wanted to like this book, I just cannot give it my (worthless) stamp of approval. My major criticism is inconsistency. At one moment the authors are talking about rebuilding America to the great country that it once was, but then quickly turn around and discuss the atrocities of America's past including genocide of Native Americans, enslavement of Africans, and abuse of child labor. It is difficult to push America as a beacon of hope when it has such an ugly past.
I do appreciate that West and Smiley remain apolitical in their argument, in that they blame both democrats and republicans for this problems at hand. They would be the first admit that there is absolutely no communist or socialist in the White House right now.

I really didn't get a lot of answers from this book, nor did I feel like I got a lot of good questions. The only solutions I deduced: we need to make it illegal for companies to make a lot of money and being rich is wrong. I don't think those are reasonable solutions.

Here is the best quote from the book.

"How can we take comfort in the phrase `One Nation Under God' when we ignore the examples of compassion dictated by Christ?"
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