Review: An Atlas of Poverty in America–One Nation, Pulling Apart, 1960-2003

4 Star, Atlases & State of the World, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class

PovertySuperb, Could Have Been Better, August 4, 2008

Amy Glasmeier

This volume is as good as it gets for depicting poverty in America, but it could have been significantly better.

1) The colors chosen to depict degrees of severity of poverty are in the blue-purple range and do not “compute.” I do not know if this was a foolish decision by the publisher to save on more expensive yellow, orange, red, but the bottom line is that the colors stink and do not communicate as well as they should.

2) There is a lack of attention to the connection between health and poverty, education and poverty, labor category and poverty. I would also have liked to see a specific focus on poverty in each of the Nine Nations of North America (see Joel Garreau’s still relevant The Nine Nations of North America.

Poverty has been declared the Number ONE High-Level Threat to Humanity by a distinguished group including as the US representative LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret), available both free online in PDF form, and at Amazon in very nice hard-copy, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change That makes this book–and an exztention of this book to the rest of the world–absolutely essential. Also needed is a web site that shows interactive time-space series, and some means of seeing “impacts” of differing policies and spending (it’s not policy until it is in the budget and the budget obligated). There are twelve core policies that impact on poverty:

Agriculture
Diplomacy
Economy
Education
Energy
Family
Health
Immigration
Justice
Security
Society
Water

Learn more at Earth Intelligence Network (public intelligence in the public interest). I am increasingly of the view that we need to gather up all the brilliant authors and contributors of the varied atlases (I have reviewed only a fraction of those in my collection) and ask them to create slices for the EarthGame(TM) that has been designed by Medard Gabel, who created the World Game (analog) with Buckminster Fuller.

Here is the table of contents that is not otherwise available to the Amazon viewer:

List of Tables, Maps, and Photographs
History of the Atlas Project
How to Read This Atlas
Basics of Poverty
Introduction: The Paradox of Poverty in America
Lived Experiences
= Children: Poverty in America Starts with Children
= Women: Often Poor, Vulnerable, and Lacking Access to Basic Needs
= Black Families at Risk
= Black Male Incarceration: Impacts on the Family
= Hard Work and Low Pay Define the Lives of Hispanic Americans
= Elderly: Social Programs Keep Many Out of Poverty
= Working but Poor
= The Lived Experience of the Wealthy in America

History of Poverty
= Poverty in the 1960’s
= Poverty in 1970
= Poverty in 1980
= Poverty in 1990
= Poverty in 2000

Distressed Regions
= Appalachia: A Land Apart in a Wealthy Nation
= The Mississippi Delta: Plantation Legacy of Slow Growth, Racism, and Severe Inequality
= First Nation Poverty: Lost Lands, Lost Prosperity
= The Border Region: Where the Global and the Local Meet
= Rural Poverty in America
= Segregation: A Nation Spatially Divided

History of Poverty Policy (Text)
= American Poverty Policy from the 1930’s to 2004
= Sources
= Graphical Sources
= Index

All told, a fine effort gone awry with a poor choice of colors. Still, the best available and strongly recommended for that reason.

See also, for much deeper insights in culture and condition:
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor
The Working Poor: Invisible in America
World Population Policies, 2007
Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil
Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids
The Global Class War: How America’s Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future – and What It Will Take to Win It Back

DVD connecting desired poverty with desired enlistment in military:
Why We Fight