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Rethinking Poverty

Income, Assets, and the Catholic Social Justice Tradition

James P. Bailey

Publication Year: 2010

In Rethinking Poverty, James P. Bailey argues that most contemporary policies aimed at reducing poverty in the United States are flawed because they focus solely on insufficient income. Bailey argues that traditional policies such as minimum wage laws, food stamps, housing subsidies, earned income tax credits, and other forms of cash and non-cash income supports need to be complemented by efforts that enable the poor to save and accumulate assets. Drawing on Michael Sherraden’s work on asset building and scholarship by Melvin Oliver, Thomas Shapiro, and Dalton Conley on asset discrimination, Bailey presents us with a novel and promising way forward to combat persistent and morally unacceptable poverty in the United States and around the world. Rethinking Poverty makes use of a significant body of Catholic social teachings in its argument for an asset development strategy to reduce poverty. These Catholic teachings include, among others, principles of human dignity, the social nature of the person, the common good, and the preferential option for the poor. These principles and the related social analyses have not yet been brought to bear on the idea of asset-building for the poor by those working within the Catholic social justice tradition. This book redresses this shortcoming, and further, claims that a Catholic moral argument for asset-building for the poor can be complemented and enriched by Martha Nussbaum’s “capabilities approach.” This book will affect current debates and practical ways to reduce poverty, as well as the future direction of Catholic social teaching.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

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pp. ix-xii

No book comes into being through the sole efforts of the author and this book is no exception. I am grateful to Duquesne University, especially President Charles Dougherty and Provost Ralph Pearson, for the support and encouragement they have given me throughout this project. Duquesne University has provided significant financial support at ...

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pp. 1-4

Economic inequality in the United States has reached its highest level since the beginning of the New Deal, leading a number of scholars and commentators to describe the first decade of the twenty-first century as a “new gilded age.”1 In such an age it is especially appropriate to rethink public policy approaches to poverty, policies that have focused ...

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Chapter One. Why Asset Building for the Poor?

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pp. 5-24

In the early 1930s, the psychologist Norman Maier conducted a series of experiments to develop deeper insight into the human reasoning process and, in particular, into the process of problem solving. One of these experiments was carried out in a large room which contained many objects such as poles, ringstands, clamps, pliers, extension cords, tables and...

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Chapter Two. Assets, the Poor,and Catholic Social Teaching

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pp. 25-60

The discussion in chapter one relied on psychosocial scientific arguments about the effectiveness of asset-based strategies. A moral basis for such policies was assumed but never fully developed. For some, this is how it should be, particularly in a pluralistic society such as the United States. Some would even argue that public policy ought to remain neutral ...

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Chapter Three. Assets and Human Capabilities

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pp. 61-84

The Church’s social teachings recognize that the dignity of the human person demands that all human beings have at least some minimum level of material well-being and that this minimum must include not only income, but savings and ownership. Some level of income and asset holdings enable persons to secure those goods that contribute to ...

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Chapter Four. Asset Discrimination

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pp. 85-102

From the very beginning, the Church’s social teachings have rejected the idea that optimal economic conditions will be obtained so long as the market is left to its own devices; economies are not governed by impersonal and unalterable laws but are, rather, human institutions which need to be subordinated to the good of all. This observation is clearly ...

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Chapter Five. Toward Inclusive Ownership

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pp. 103-126

The trajectory of social policy in Western democracies during the twentieth century was generally in the direction of greater political and social equality; women’s suffrage, civil rights, and increases in gender equality all gesture toward a more complete inclusion of society’s members. The inclusion of all persons in the benefits and rewards of economic ...

Appendix: A Primer on Modern Catholic Social Teaching

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pp. 127-131


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pp. 132-155


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pp. 156-166


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pp. 167-189

E-ISBN-13: 9780268075842
E-ISBN-10: 0268075840
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268022235
Print-ISBN-10: 0268022232

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2010