The New Politics of Poverty: The Nonworking Poor in America

The New Politics of Poverty: The Nonworking Poor in America

by Lawrence M. Mead
     
 

Thirty years ago, the great national debate was how to help ordinary, workaday Americans achieve the good things in life. Today, we are preoccupied with—and increasingly divided over—how to cope with the problems of poor and dependent Americans, most of whom cannot or will not work at the jobs available. Mead provides overwhelming and disturbing evidence

Overview

Thirty years ago, the great national debate was how to help ordinary, workaday Americans achieve the good things in life. Today, we are preoccupied with—and increasingly divided over—how to cope with the problems of poor and dependent Americans, most of whom cannot or will not work at the jobs available. Mead provides overwhelming and disturbing evidence that passive poverty—the failure of most of the poor to work at all—reflects defeatism more than lack of opportunity. In this controversial book, Mead proposes concrete steps to overcome the inertia of the nonworking poor trapped in the welfare system. If the poor return to work, he suggests, American politics would focus once again on the problems of the working Americans.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Railing against the nonworking poor is Mead's ( Beyond Entitlement ) central preoccupation here. The former research director of the Republican National Committee maintains that today's ``nonworking'' poor are singularly different than earlier generations of the poor in that they refuse to work. He concludes that they lack moral authority and, therefore, the right to make demands upon society. He calls for ``work enforcement'' and the ``reassertion of public authority,'' while arguing against today's ``dependency politics which is largely about how to cope with nonworking people.'' Mead relies heavily on statistics to prove his points, but his interpretations are highly subjective. This is social policy in the hands of a zealot, and fervor more than facts are the draw. First serial to Commentary. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Mead examines the divergent conservative and liberal political responses to the increasingly threatening social and economic costs to America of a passively nonworking poor underclass, predominantly negative contributors to a mainstream society believing in advancement through active individual effort. As in his Beyond Entitlement ( LJ 12/85), Mead argues for a work requirement for employable recipients of public assistance. This, he reasons, would not only alleviate the poverty but would help individuals realize some measure of control over their lives and affirm the concept of personal responsibility. A challenging work, with very extensive notes, this is appropriate for upper-level undergraduates, policy makers, interested professionals, and laypersons. Previewed in ``On the Campaign Book Trail,'' LJ 3/15/92, p.110-12.-- Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465050697
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
06/01/1993
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
356
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.91(d)
Lexile:
1400L (what's this?)

What People are saying about this

Irving Kristol
"Mead has more sensible and insightful things to say about the problems of the nonworking poor than almost anyone else."

Meet the Author

Lawrence M. Mead is associate professor of politics at New York University. He is the author of Beyond Entitlement: The Social Obligations of Citizenship (1986), and he writes frequently for Commentary, The Public Interest, and other scholarly and general-interest publications.

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