Does America Hate the Poor? The Other American Dilemma: Lessons for the 21st Century from the 1960s and the 1970s

By John E. Tropman | Go to book overview

The new American architecture reflects the . . . evolution of American society from Republicanism to feudalism. Downtown office complexes begin to resemble medieval castles--connections of towers, connected by skyways and sealed off from the growing horde of the enemployable poor . . . [In the future] Dad will bask in the Caribbean sun sketching out marketing designs on his laptop computer, while Mom keeps an eye on baby, via satellite, as she flies from New York to Frankfort to Tokyo. Off camera, never seen, is the Latina who actually changes Baby's diapers. (pp. 35-47)


NOTES
1.
Guilty contributions may not be all that is operating here. The individual workaholic may view these "overages" as a risk investment. That is, he or she may be putting in more time in the hope or reaping rewards in the future and, on an individual basis, such an investment could be perfectly understandable. However, on the aggregate basis it still operates as a source of social exploitation and a generative center for organizational wealth. To give a quick example, consider the following: Suppose everyone worked fifty hours a week instead of forty in order to achieve a promotion in a particular firm. Since there is only one promotional space available, the individual who worked fifty-one hours gets the job. However, the organization gets to enjoy (though the employees may not) the results of ten extra hours of contribution from all of its workers.
2.
A similar point might be made here with respect to voluntarism that was made with respect to risk investment for upward mobility, and at the individual level it might indeed make sense. A particular individual might well feel the need to share his or her labor with the community in which he or she lives. However, the substantial social benefit from the aggregate of such contributions cannot be overlooked.
3.
One place where this can be seen in relatively small compass is in union negotiations, or in fringe benefit negotiations in organizations. It appears there is a maximum to minimum cycle: What was the maximum in one year becomes the minimum for the next year in that same organization. Hence, there is never a point at which one can rest or "take a breather" with respect to other organizations. Any negotiator begins by looking to see what the best package achieved was. That then becomes the goal to strive for.
4.
The work-achievement motivation, or need to achieve (see Atkinson 1968, 27- 33), may, in this framework, be thought of as "acquisition motivation" or "need-to- acquire."
5.
Public Assistance usually came in categories. There was AFDC and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) for the disabled, the blind, and the elderly. These programs were state and federal programs. A poor man with no family could only get general assistance, a state-only program. That is why states could end them.
6.
It is important to stress the difference between what any individual older adult may actually do and what society assigns the age grade to be responsible for. It is certainly true that there are a lot of older adults who are in fact working, but society views this as a choice, not a requirement (however true or untrue that may be with respect to the individual case).

-143-

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Does America Hate the Poor? The Other American Dilemma: Lessons for the 21st Century from the 1960s and the 1970s
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Note x
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Part I Who are the Poor, and Does America Hate Them? 1
  • Note 4
  • Chapter 1 How America Hates the Poor 5
  • Conclusion 15
  • Notes 15
  • Chapter 2 Poorfare Culture, Welfare State 17
  • Conclusion 23
  • Part II Pictures in Plenty: Conceptions of the Underclass 25
  • Chapter 3 Laggards and Lushes: Images of the Poor 27
  • Conclusion 43
  • Notes 43
  • Chapter 4 The Decent Poverty Stricken: Images of the Near Poor 45
  • Conclusion 57
  • Chapter 5 The Overseer of the Poor: View from the County Welfare Office 59
  • Conclusion 70
  • Note 71
  • Chapter 6 Mothers: Opinions and Stereotypes 73
  • Conclusion 79
  • Note 80
  • Part III The Life Cycle Poor: Images of the Aged 81
  • Note 83
  • Chapter 7 Images of the Elderly 85
  • Conclusion 91
  • Notes 91
  • Chapter 8 American Culture and the Aged: Stereotypes and Realities 93
  • Conclusion 104
  • Notes 105
  • Chapter 9 What the Public Thinks: Older and Younger Adults 107
  • Conclusion 123
  • Note 123
  • Part IV Why America Hates Poor 125
  • Chapter 10 The Poorfare State: Embodiment and Revelation 129
  • Conclusion 131
  • Chapter 11 Social Exploitation 133
  • Conclusion 142
  • Notes 143
  • Chapter 12: Mirror of Destiny 145
  • Notes 152
  • References 153
  • Bibliography 159
  • Index 169
  • About the Author 173
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