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August 2007
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Summer poverty reads

My stack of summer reads includes a couple books on poverty that I borrowed from the library. One is Jeffrey Sachs’s The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time, and the other is Ending Poverty in America: How to Restore the American Dream, a collection of essays with which Senator John Edwards is loosely associated.

Both make my heart happy by containing a colon in the title, and both have inspired me to pick up my phone in the middle of a sentence and call someone–anyone–to talk about the contents. So far, though, both do little to challenge capitalism itself as necessarily creating conditions of poverty and uncertainty. For Sachs, the consumerism of wealthy nations is the ticket out of poverty for the poorest nations, even if that ticket is just for a round trip to a sweatshop that will pick up and move elsewhere as soon as the workers start to ask for a bit more a la Oliver Twist.

Elizabeth Warren’s essay in the Ending Poverty anthology contains some of the more remarkable assertions I’ve read about how Americans spend their money. It’s counterintuitive and thought-provoking, and I’ll write about it more later.