Democratic Left

Inequality, Poverty, and Politics: Book Review

The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It. Timothy Noah. Bloomsbury Press. 264 pp. $25.

The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto. Tavis Smiley and Cornel West. Smiley Books. 222 pp. $12.

Timothy Noah’s The Great Divergence and Tavis Smiley’s and Cornel West’s The Rich and the Rest of Us frame inequality quite differently. Both are intellectual, political and social histories that span a century but focus most on changes to our politics, policies, and economy over the last few decades. With all the footnotes any scholar would demand, they still remain completely accessible to the non-academic reader. While they cover some of the same ground and promote similar policies, you will be much less informed by reading only one of them.

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Kitchen Table Economics: What is "Right to Work?"

The right to join a union and to negotiate for a living wage and decent working conditions should be available to all workers. Republican politicians are trying to take this basic right away in several states by proposing legislation misleadingly named “right to work.”

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Kansas Socialism Is In the House, Again

Kansas may count as a “red state,” one that’s backed national Democrats only on the rarest of occasions, but it has a proud radical tradition, too. A strong abolitionist center, it produced a fiery populist uprising and hosted a strong socialist presence in Lawrence. It also spawned a first-rate socialist newspaper, The Appeal to Reason, which at its height in the first decade of the 20th century had a circulation of some 200,000, counting among its regular contributors Eugene Debs and Upton Sinclair.

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Locals Focus on Elections and Today’s Other America

National and state elections took place this fall as our economy struggled to recover from the worst recession and greatest levels of inequality since 1929. Some DSAers were able to find ways to make a difference in the elections, volunteering as canvassers in swing states or for local candidates. Many used the 50th anniversary of our founder Michael Harrington’s historic book The Other America: Poverty in the United States to re-introduce the “invisible poor” into the public discourse, urge mobilization for solutions, and celebrate our organization’s history. They strove to combine analysis with coalition building that addresses the profound structural causes of the current crisis and the threat to democracy posed by the corporate-funded right wing. Here are a few examples of effective local actions: 

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Taking GET UP on the Road

In June, Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel set out for California to do a GET UP workshop on “U.S. Capitalism in Crisis and Social Market Alternatives” at six different DSA locals. GET UP stands for “Grassroots Economics Training for Understanding and Power.” It covers inequality, housing, debt and finance, and the alternative policies that would restructure the US political economy. Laced with interactive exercises, its goal is to equip people to identify and counter neoliberal arguments about the economy and society.

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