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Mea CulpaLessons on Law and Regret from U.S. History$
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Steven W. Bender

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479899623

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479899623.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 31 March 2020

The Wages of Poverty

The Wages of Poverty

Inequality, Welfare Queens, and the Homeless

(p.76) 5 The Wages of Poverty
Mea Culpa

Steven W. Bender

NYU Press

Chapter 5 builds on the background of impoverished migrant farmworkers and more broadly surveys the landscapes of poverty in the United States. It concentrates on the two settings most commonly dehumanized and, in the first instance, racialized—welfare recipients, who are stigmatized as lazy, promiscuous welfare queens in a manner that evokes stereotypes of black women dating to slavery, and our homeless population, who are seen in subhuman terms as worthless street trash. America’s poor are hampered by restrictive welfare reform, minimum-wage levels far below a living wage, and an inadequate supply of affordable housing. Justifications for their continued il treatment are expressed in terms of economic growth and fairness as well as public safety. Articulating a variety of reforms after critiquing existing welfare and homeless policies and practices and debunking the myths behind them, Chapter 5 ultimately suggests repairing these inequities by tackling the greater inequities of our time: spiraling income inequality and the burgeoning wealth gap.

Keywords:   welfare, homeless, income inequality, wealth gap, dehumanization

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