A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action

So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America

Community Action Book Club

This month's book was suggested by Dana Jones, CEO & President of the United Planning Organization.
UPO is the community action agency serving Washington, D.C.


So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America

by Peter Edelman, 208 pages, published May 29, 2012

**DON'T MISS** Questions for Readers to Explore
Scroll down for review, author interview and more

Discussion Forum

Readers are encouraged to Add Comments to describe how the book relates to your work, your thoughts on issues brought out by the author, your overall impressions of the book, etc. - see Guidelines for Comments.

Questions to Explore
  • Why is it so hard to end poverty in your community?
  • How much income does it take to be economically self-sufficient in your community?
  • What reasons for caring about poverty would you give to people who are not poor?
  • What can be done to bridge the gap between low-paying jobs and meeting basic living expenses?
  • What specifically would you ask people who are not poor to do?
  • What are some strategies to increase community involvement and support for your agency?

Please LET US KNOW if you have any suggested titles for future selections.

UPO Public Forum Series

UPO is conducting a Public Forum Series entitled Facing Poverty.  The first forum focused on the book So Rich, So Poor and Peter Edelman was the speaker.  The event drew a non-traditional crowd that saw a public policy side to Community Action that is not often displayed.  The series will continue with 3 other topics, Employment of Young Minority Males, Education as a Poverty issue and Poverty as a Civil Rights Issue.

The book was a great way to jump start this effort. UPO Board Members invited guests and the agency received good public relations and donor activity.

From IndieBound

Description of So Rich, So Poor – If the nation’s gross national income—over $14 trillion—were divided evenly across the entire U.S. population, every household could call itself middle class. Yet the income-level disparity in this country is now wider than at any point since the Great Depression. In 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 million—climbing to over $11 million when all forms of compensation are accounted for—while the current median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000. How can some be so rich, while others are so poor?

In this provocative book, Peter Edelman, a former top aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a lifelong antipoverty advocate, offers an informed analysis of how this country can be so wealthy yet have a steadily growing number of unemployed and working poor. According to Edelman, we have taken important positive steps without which 25 to 30 million more people would be poor, but poverty fluctuates with the business cycle. The structure of today’s economy has stultified wage growth for half of America’s workers—with even worse results at the bottom and for people of color—while bestowing billions on those at the top.

So Rich, So Poor delves into what is happening to the people behind the statistics and takes a particular look at the continuing crisis of young people of color, whose possibility of a productive life too often is lost on their way to adulthood. This is crucial reading for anyone who wants to understand the most critical American dilemma of the twenty-first century.

Peter Edelman talks about So Rich, So Poor

90.9 wbur – Boston’s NPR news station
‘So Rich, So Poor’: Why Is Poverty In America So High? (10:18) – listen to this interview with Peter Edelman

Moyers & company
Peter Edelman on Fighting Poverty (25:50) – Bill Moyers talks with the author and advocate about continuing efforts to fight poverty, and how to keep the needs of the poor on the American political agenda.

BookTV from C-SPAN
View program on BookTV (49:31) – Peter Edelman talks about why our economy produces great wealth and great poverty at the same time and offers suggestions on how to improve the condition of the tens of millions of Americans currently living below the poverty line.

Peter Edelman at MDC (39:17)

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