Water. Food. Housing. The most basic and crucial needs for survival, yet forty percent of people in the United States don’t have the resources to get them. With key policy changes, we could eradicate poverty in this country within our lifetime‚ but we need to get started now. Nearly forty million people in the United States live below the poverty line. Low-income families and individuals are everywhere, from cities to rural communities. While poverty is commonly seen as a personal failure, or a deficiency of character or knowledge, it’s actually the result of bad policy. Public policy has purposefully erected barriers that deny access to basic needs, creating a society where people can easily become trapped – not because we lack the resources to lift them out, but because we are actively choosing not to. Poverty is close to inevitable for low-wage workers and their children, and a large percentage of these people, despite qualifying for it, do not receive government aid. This book is a perfect companion for a social action committee, a congregation wide book club and any Synagogue focused on tzedakah.
Broke in America: Seeing, Understanding and Ending US Poverty
September 1, 2020
Courtesy of Ben Bella Publishers
- The authors argue that poverty isn’t the fault of people in it. Do you think they made their case?
- How did you view poverty before reading this book? Did Broke in America change your view of poverty in the U.S.? If so, how?
- What individual stories moved you?
- How have you seen the media cover poverty in the U.S.? Do you think the current coverage is adequate? Why or why not?
- The book talks about barriers that people face in meeting their basic needs. Which of those basic needs chapters had the biggest impact on you? Did anything surprise you about the obstacles people are confronted with when it comes to obtaining basic necessities?
- Did you recognize you own community in any of the stories?
- What was the most surprising thing that you learned in the book?
- Talking about topics like racism and sexism is difficult. Do you think that the book creates an opportunity to open discussions on those topics?
- What’s the overall feeling that the book left you with (i.e. anger, hope, etc.)?
- Did the book make you want to take action? Is that something that your reading community could collaborate on? What next step can you take to fight poverty?
- Do you think the last section prepared you to be an advocate? What other skills/resources do you need to make change?
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