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

and hate speech directed toward the status poor and the life cycle poor as well.

In 1996, with the signature of President Clinton, "welfare as we know it" (Aid to Families with Dependent Children; AFDC) ended, and the states took more control. The PRWORA (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act) ended AFCD and replaced it with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It does not take a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing here. Beneath, and just beneath, all the talk is hate and fear of the poor.

The poor, then, are actual representations of what could happen to us, what will happen to us. We hate them not because they are us ("We have met the enemy, and he is us"), but because they could be us, or will be; because they represent features of the open society in operation we do not like; because they represent a truncation of opportunity and costs coming home to roost; and because we need their resources for our own use and feel guilty about it. Poverty is the embodiment and the realization of our fears.


NOTE
1.
There are social thinkers who assert that one of these dimensions is primary and all others follow from it. Karl Marx, for example, felt that occupation was central. C. Wright Mills, in his book The Power Elite, felt that power was central. Others feel that power brings money, that money bring power, and so on. For our purposes, let us assume that each is substantially independent of the other and that the empirical question centers on the degree of crystallization, defined as the extent to which an individual occupies the same quintile on one, two, three, four, or even five of the variables. A 20-percent crystallization would mean having the same position on two of the variables; 30 percent on three, and so on.

-4-

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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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