New Book: Andrea Freeman, Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice (2019). Overview below:
Born into a tenant farming family in North Carolina in 1946, Mary Louise, Mary Ann, Mary Alice, and Mary Catherine were medical miracles. Annie Mae Fultz, a Black-Cherokee woman who lost her ability to hear and speak in childhood, became the mother of America’s first surviving set of identical quadruplets. They were instant celebrities. Their White doctor named them after his own family members. He sold the rights to use the sisters for marketing purposes to the highest-bidding formula company. The girls lived in poverty, while Pet Milk’s profits from a previously untapped market of Black families skyrocketed.
Over half a century later, baby formula is a seventy-billion-dollar industry and Black mothers have the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country. Since slavery, legal, political, and societal factors have routinely denied Black women the ability to choose how to feed their babies. In Skimmed, Andrea Freeman tells the riveting story of the Fultz quadruplets while uncovering how feeding America’s youngest citizens is awash in social, legal, and cultural inequalities. This book highlights the making of a modern public health crisis, the four extraordinary girls whose stories encapsulate a nationwide injustice, and how we can fight for a healthier future.
New Book: Jack Dougherty et al., On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs, this book-in-progress was last updated on 2019-11-06.
On The Line, an open-access digital and print history book, makes visible the hidden schooling and housing boundaries that divide metropolitan Hartford, Connecticut, and tells the stories of civil rights activists and everyday families who sought to cross over, redraw, or erase these lines.
New Book: Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019). Overview below:
America’s runaway inequality has an engine: our unjust tax system.
Even as they became fabulously wealthy, the ultra-rich have had their taxes collapse to levels last seen in the 1920s. Meanwhile, working-class Americans have been asked to pay more. The Triumph of Injustice presents a forensic investigation into this dramatic transformation, written by two economists who revolutionized the study of inequality. Eschewing anecdotes and case studies, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman offer a comprehensive view of America’s tax system, based on new statistics covering all taxes paid at all levels of government. Their conclusion? For the first time in more than a century, billionaires now pay lower tax rates than their secretaries.
Blending history and cutting-edge economic analysis, and writing in lively and jargon-free prose, Saez and Zucman dissect the deliberate choices (and sins of indecision) that have brought us to today: the gradual exemption of capital owners; the surge of a new tax avoidance industry, and the spiral of tax competition among nations. With clarity and concision, they explain how America turned away from the most progressive tax system in history to embrace policies that only serve to compound the wealth of a few.
But The Triumph of Injustice is much more than a laser-sharp analysis of one of the great political and intellectual failures of our time. Saez and Zucman propose a visionary, democratic, and practical reinvention of taxes, outlining reforms that can allow tax justice to triumph in today’s globalized world and democracy to prevail over concentrated wealth.
A pioneering companion website allows anyone to evaluate proposals made by the authors, and to develop their own alternative tax reform at taxjusticenow.org.
New Book: Helen Hershkoff & Stephen Loffredo, Getting By: Economic Rights and Legal Protections for People with Low Income (Oxford University Press 2020). Overview below:
Getting By offers an integrated, critical account of the federal laws and programs that most directly affect poor and low-income people in the United States-the unemployed, the underemployed, and the low-wage employed, whether working in or outside the home.
The central aim is to provide a resource for individuals and groups trying to access benefits, secure rights and protections, and mobilize for economic justice.
The topics covered include cash assistance, employment and labor rights, food assistance, health care, education, consumer and banking law, housing assistance, rights in public places, access to justice, and voting rights.
This comprehensive volume is appropriate for law school and undergraduate courses, and is a vital resource for policy makers, journalists, and others interested in social welfare policy in the United States.
New Book: Creating Private Sector Economies in Native America: Sustainable Development through Entrepreneurship (Robert J. Miller, Miriam Jorgensen, & Daniel Stewart eds., Cambridge University Press, 2019).
-Congrats to the editors for seeing this through and thanks including my chapter. Sorry I will miss the conference gathering!
New Book: Sonya Salamon and Katherine Mactavish, [Singlewide: Chasing the American Dream in a Rural Trailer Park] (Cornell University Press, 2017). Overview below:
In Singlewide, Sonya Salamon and Katherine MacTavish explore the role of the trailer park as a source of affordable housing. America’s trailer parks, most in rural places, shelter an estimated 12 million people, and the authors show how these parks serve as a private solution to a pressing public need. Singlewide considers the circumstances of families with school-age children in trailer parks serving whites in Illinois, Hispanics in New Mexico, and African Americans in North Carolina. By looking carefully at the daily lives of families who live side by side in rows of manufactured homes, Salamon and MacTavish draw conclusions about the importance of housing, community, and location in the families’ dreams of opportunities and success as signified by eventually owning land and a conventional home.
Working-poor rural families who engage with what Salamon and MacTavish call the “mobile home industrial complex” may become caught in an expensive trap starting with their purchase of a mobile home. A family that must site its trailer in a land-lease trailer park struggles to realize any of the anticipated benefits of homeownership. Seeking to break down stereotypes, Salamon and MacTavish reveal the important place that trailer parks hold within the United States national experience. In so doing, they attempt to integrate and normalize a way of life that many see as outside the mainstream, suggesting that families who live in trailer parks, rather than being “trailer trash,” culturally resemble the parks’ neighbors who live in conventional homes.
New Book: Gene R. Nichol, The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina (The University of North Carolina Press, 2018). Overview below:
These are the faces of poverty in North Carolina: scores of homeless men, women, and children take refuge in makeshift camps, barely hidden in the woods near some of our most affluent neighborhoods. Hundreds wait in lines hours long to receive basic health care at underfunded free clinics. In large cities and small towns, children–especially children of color–rely on meals at their schools to keep hunger at bay, while parents struggle in jobs that fail to pay living wages. While many in the Tar Heel State enjoy unparalleled prosperity, those born into poverty have lower odds than ever of climbing the ladder of economic upward mobility. Today, more than 1.5 million North Carolinians live in poverty. More than one in five are children. Behind these sobering statistics are the faces of our fellow citizens. This book tells their stories.
Since 2012, Gene R. Nichol has traveled the length of North Carolina, conducting hundreds of interviews with poor people and those working to alleviate the worst of their circumstances. Here their voices challenge all of us to see what is too often invisible, to look past partisan divides and preconceived notions, and to seek change. Only with a full commitment as a society, Nichol argues, will we succeed in truly ending poverty, which he calls our greatest challenge.
New Book: Chris Arnade, Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America (2019).
-I have gone back and forth debating with myself how much I wanted to write about this book and ultimately decided not to write much. But I highly recommend it. Some people may get turned off because J.D. Vance endorsed it, but it is a powerful book that does a great job presenting many of the challenges facing the poor as natural reactions to the ways society harms and humiliates them. It also responds beautifully to the sentiment, including one I sometimes share, that people in declining areas should just move to areas with opportunity. On everything from drugs and religion to work and dignity, this is a great book that I will continue to think about well into the future.
New Book of Note: Jason Deparle, A Good Provider is One Who Leaves (2019). This book, written by the author of one of the best poverty books of the last several decades, American Dream, is sure to be a good read. The summary is below: