Tim Wise is one of America's most prolific public intellectuals. His critically acclaimed books, high-profile media interviews, and year-round speaking schedule have established him as an invaluable voice in any discussion on issues of race and multicultural democracy.
In Under the Affluence , Wise discusses a related issue: economic inequality and the demonization of those in need. He reminds us that there was a time when the hardship of fellow Americans stirred feelings of sympathy, solidarity for struggling families, and support for policies and programs meant to alleviate poverty. Today, however, mainstream discourse blames people with low income for their own situation, and the notion of an intractable "culture of poverty" has pushed our country in an especially ugly direction.
Tim Wise argues that far from any culture of poverty, it is the culture of predatory affluence that deserves the blame for America's simmering economic and social crises. He documents the increasing contempt for the nation's poor, and reveals the forces at work to create and perpetuate it. With clarity, passion and eloquence, he demonstrates how America's myth of personal entitlement based on merit is inextricably linked to pernicious racial bigotry, and he points the way to greater compassion, fairness, and economic justice.
Tim Wise is the author of many books, including Dear White America and Colorblind.
"Tim Wise is one of the great public moralists in America today. In his bracing new book, Under the Affluence , he brilliantly engages the roots and ramifications of radical inequality in our nation, carefully detailing the heartless war against the poor and the swooning addiction to the rich that exposes the moral sickness at the heart of our culture. Wise's stirring analysis of our predicament is more than a disinterested social scientific treatise; this book is a valiant call to arms against the vicious practices that undermine the best of the American ideals we claim to cherish. Under the Affluence is vintage Tim Wise: smart, sophisticated, conscientious, and righteously indignant at the betrayal of millions of citizens upon whose backs the American Dream rests. This searing testimony for the most vulnerable in our nation is also a courageous cry for justice that we must all heed." Michael Eric Dyson, author of The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America
About the Author
Tim Wise: Constantly on tour, Tim Wise is one of the most prominent anti-racist essayists, educators and activists in the US. He is regularly interviewed by CNN, Tavis Smiley, Tom Joyner and Michael Eric Dyson. His essays are regularly published on Alternet, Counterpunch, Z-net, Black Commentator, the Black Agenda Report and the Daily Kos. His blog is widely followed at www.timwise.org
Table of Contents
I. Pulling Apart: The States of Disunited America
Joblessness and Underemployment in Post-Recession America
Poverty, Wage Stagnation and Deprivation Amid “Recovery”
Income and Wealth Inequality: Long-Term Trends and Current Realities
Deflection on the Right: But What About Mobility?
Deflection on the Right: The False Promise of Growth
Deflection on the Right: Blaming Changing Family Structure
Deflection on the Right (and Left): Is Education the Key to the Inequality Problem?
Why the Current Trend Lines? What’s Behind Growing Inequality in America?
Some Final Words About Race and the Economic Crisis
II. Resurrecting Scrooge: Rhetoric and Policy of the Culture of Cruelty
Demonizing the Poor: Understanding Past as Prologue
The Reformation: From Social Gospel to the New Deal and Beyond
Bashing the War on Poverty: The Presumption of Failure, The Reality of Success
Victim-Blaming, Poverty Shaming and Culture Defaming in Modern America
The Rhetoric of Hate: Dehumanizing and Humiliating the Impoverished
Trivializing Hardship: Conservatives as Poverty Deniers
Welfare Dependence and the Culture of Poverty: America’s Zombie Lie
The Real Reasons for Unemployment, Poverty and Welfare
Loving the 1 Percent: The Valorization of the Rich and Powerful
Makers v. Takers: Taxes, Public Subsidies and the Real Face of Entitlement
No, You Didn’t Build That: Confronting the Myth of Elite Talent
A Culture of Parasitic Affluence: Examining the Inverted Values of the Rich
With Justice for None: The Implications of a Culture of Cruelty
III. Fostering a Culture of Compassion
How Did We Get Here? The Importance of Seeing the Roadblocks Clearly
Something Old : The Myth of Meritocracy
Something New: The Centrality of Racism and White Resentment
Beyond Facts: The Importance of Storytelling
Some Things are Non-negotiable: A Vision of Justice
About the Author