The Working Poor: Invisible In America By David K. Shipler

908 words - 4 pages

In The Working Poor: Invisible in America, David K. Shipler tells the story of a handful of people he has interviewed and followed through their struggles with poverty over the course of six years. David Shipler is an accomplished writer and consultant on social issues. His knowledge, experience, and extensive field work is authoritative and trustworthy. Shipler describes a vicious cycle of low paying jobs, health issues, abuse, addiction, and other factors that all combine to create a mountain of adversity that is virtually impossible to overcome. The American dream and promise of prosperity through hard work fails to deliver to the 35 million people in America who make up the working poor. Since there is neither one problem nor one solution to poverty, Shipler connects all of the issues together to show how they escalate each other. Poor children are abused, drugs and gangs run rampant in the poor neighborhoods, low wage dead end jobs, immigrants are exploited, high interest loans and credit cards entice people in times of crisis and unhealthy diets and lack of health care cause a multitude of problems. The only way that we can begin to see positive change is through a community approach joining the poverty stricken individuals, community, businesses, and government to band together to make a commitment to improve all areas that need help.
The people that David Shipler interviewed are the type of people seen every day working at restaurants, Wal-Mart, and gas stations. They do not fit into the prejudice description of mooching welfare recipients. They are people on the edge of the poverty line that are affected by a multitude of issues that snowball into a lifetime of a constant debt and crisis. Shipler studies these working poor instead of the homeless population because in his words, “for as they attempt to escape, we see vividly the obstacles they have to cross. From the edge of poverty, we have an illuminating view of poverty’s depths.” (Shipler 99-100) In a middle income family a car repair is easily fixed. In Shipler’s subjects a broken down car can mean lost time at work, losing a job, or desperately agreeing to a high interest car lease. Money is scarce and any unplanned expense can easily deplete resources and send the family into a spiral of debt. Shipler writes empathetically about the trials and tribulations that his subjects face. The story of Tom and Kara is heart wrenching. They are hard-working, loving parents who had a very hard time making ends meet. When Kara was diagnosed and died of cancer their family was sent into a depression, emotionally and financially. Shipler writes objectively about families that seem to be in a mental block unable to get past the demons of their past....

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