Term Paper: Working Poor in His Book

Pages: 4 (1400 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Government  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Shipler's support of Americans who are poverty stricken in America and empathy with their plight is clear. Writes Shipler, "Most of the people I write about in this book do not have the luxury of rage. They are caught in exhausting struggles. Their wages do not lift them far enough from poverty to improve their lives, and their lives, in turn, hold them back. The term by which they are usually described, 'working poor,' should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America." Despite this empathy, Shipler states his intent to write his book "with clear eyes, not through an ideological lens."

In the end, Shipler argues that there is no easy fix to the problem of the working poor. Instead, he argues that government, community and corporations must act together to address the many problems that contribute to the cycle of poverty. Addressing the problem of the working poor means addressing the problems of inadequate housing, medical care, education, and social ills like child and drug abuse. For Shipler, there is no easy answer to the problem of the working poor. Ironically, he argues that only hard work itself will bring the working poor out of their continuing cycle of poverty.

Essential to solving the problem of poverty is the creation of a political will to improve the lot of the working poor. Writes Shipler, this relief system "recognizes both the society's obligation through government and business, and the individual's obligation through labor and family."

Contributing to the difficulty in eradicating poverty, Shipler notes, is the fact that "As a culture, the United States is not quite sure about the causes of poverty, and is therefore uncertain about the solutions." As a whole, therefore, America must begin to better understand the root causes of poverty before it can begin to improve the lot of the working poor.

In The Working Poor: Invisible in America, Shipler provides some real solutions to the problem of poverty for the working poor. A change in the current wage structure is an important component of his strategy, providing workers with adequate wages for basic necessities, and breaking the cycle of poverty. The creation of more vocational programs is an important part of this strategy, as is the creation of federal health care for all citizens in the United States.

Shipler is clearly qualified to write a work on the working poor in America. He has taught at Princeton and Dartmouth College, and has acted as a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Further, Shipler was a journalist for The New York Times for close to 20 years, and has written three other books, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land.

Shipler's book is clearly well researched and well organized. He spent close to seven years following many of his subjects, and manages to create a meaningful portrait of a complex phenomenon. He is careful to humanize the people within the book, providing meaningful insights into individual lives and situations. In doing so, he manages to break many of the stereotypes of the poor in America as homeless, mentally ill, and without ambition. Instead, he creates a portrait of the working poor as individuals who have jobs and ambition, but still live in a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break.

In conclusion, Shipler's book, The Working Poor: Invisible in America, is an insightful look into the plight of the working poor in modern America. Shipler creates a complex but compelling portrait of the struggles of the working poor to escape the cycles of poverty. It is only through the creation of a political will, and the ensuing intervention of government, community and the corporate world that the working poor have any hope of improvements in their lives. After all, it is truly against many of the deeply ingrained principles of this country to allow anyone who works hard to be mired in poverty. As Shipler himself argues, "Nobody who works hard should be poor."

Works Cited

Shipler, David K. 2004. The Working Poor: Invisible in America, 1st edition.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Working Poor in His Book.  (2004, May 25).  Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/working-poor-book/8447777

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"Working Poor in His Book."  Essaytown.com.  May 25, 2004.  Accessed July 23, 2019.