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Ending Poverty As We Know It: Guaranteeing A Right To A Job

William Quigley

Publication Year: 2003

Across the United States tens of millions of people are working forty or more hours a week...and living in poverty. This is surprising in a country where politicians promise that anyone who does their share, and works hard, will get ahead. In Ending Poverty As We Know It, William Quigley argues that it is time to make good on that promise by adding to the Constitution language that insures those who want to work can do so—and at a wage that enables them to afford reasonable shelter, clothing, and food.

Published by: Temple University Press

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

Over the years I have worked side by side with many good people who were poorly paid for delivering newspapers, stocking warehouse shelves, painting signs, repairing highways, building mobile homes, being aides in nursing homes, doing community....

I. Introduction

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1 Why a Right to a Job at a Living Wage?

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pp. 3-16

There are approximately thirty million people in the United States who are working full-time but earning poverty-level wages. In addition, there are approximately fifteen million people who are either out of work or working part-time but would like to be working full-time. Historically, the first response to poverty...

II. Reeducating Ourselves about What It Means to Be Poor

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2 Myths and Facts about Poverty and Work

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pp. 19-28

The very first time I taught my course Law and Poverty, I asked my students midsemester to anonymously suggest a person they’d like to have as a guest speaker. Some students, no doubt intending to challenge my liberal perspective, asked me...

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3 Our History Shapes Our Thinking

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pp. 29-32

“Unless you start saving your money, you’re going to end up in the poorhouse!” Ever heard someone say that? Where does that saying come from? My students generally do not know that the United States was dotted with government and private poorhouses in the early part of the twentieth century.1 Poorhouses were real, and the fear...

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4 Current Official Definition of Poverty

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pp. 33-42

What is the official definition of poverty? How does the government decide who is poor? The news media report that the numbers about poverty went up or down or how many people are poor, and yet few of us know the official definition...

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5 A New Definition of Poverty

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pp. 43-52

Any new definition of poverty in America must be a reflection of our national commitment to justice, fairness, and the dignity of each and every human being. As Adam Smith noted in the Wealth of Nations in 1776, a country’s definition of what the necessities of...

III. Poverty and Lack of Work

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6 The Extent of Unemployment and Underemployment

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pp. 55-64

There are people who sincerely believe that there is a decent job in our country for every person who wants one. They are very, very mistaken. Millions of people in this country are not working at all, and millions more are working part-time when they would like to be working full-time. This lack of decent work occurs in good...

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7 The Cost of Unemployment and Underemployment

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pp. 65-68

What is the cost to us as a nation of unemployment and underemployment? First, there is a personal cost to the unemployed. Consider the remarks of Shelley Haynes, age thirty-nine, who worked for fifteen years for a business before it closed two...

IV. Work and Poverty

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8 The Working Poor

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pp. 71-84

The usual first response to poverty has been to advise the poor to work. But if the poor are already working, what’s the next response? The next response is usually silence. One of every four workers in the United States, around thirty million workers, earns less than...

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9 Low-Wage Work

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pp. 85-90

One of the key problems with low-wage work is the minimum wage, which impacts, directly and indirectly, more than twenty million workers. Consider the following facts about the effect of a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage as of...

V. A Constitutional Right to a Job at a Living Wage

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10 A Constitutional Amendment

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pp. 93-99

America values work. We value self-sufficiency. Because of that, it is now time to make the right to a job at a living wage part of our national promise to one another. It is time again to amend our Constitution. As a country our highest civic values are incorporated into our Constitution. These are promises we make to each other....

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11 Support for a Right to a Job

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pp. 100-116

The idea that everyone should have the right to a job to support themselves has been supported by Americans for decades. Providing opportunities to work has been a preferred governmental response to poverty for hundreds of years....

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12 Support for a Right to Living Wages

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pp. 117-136

There is widespread popular, political, and religious support for the principle that those who work should not still be poor. Living wages are those sufficient to allow a worker and his or her family to be self-supporting. Advocacy for living wages is not...

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13 How Might a Constitutional Amendment Work?

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pp. 137-158

In a church cafeteria where I had just led a brief discussion about establishing a right to a job at a living wage, an older woman came up to me and said, “I like what you say about amending our Constitution. I think everyone should have a...

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14 The Way to End Poverty as We Know It

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pp. 159-164

Most people realize that our current system does not work very well for poor people, especially poor working people. We recognize that millions of people are working but are still poor. We want everyone to have the opportunity to work...

Notes

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pp. 165-222

Suggested Web Resources for Further Reading

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pp. 223-224

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 225-240

Index

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pp. 241-245


E-ISBN-13: 9781592137770

Publication Year: 2003