Skip to main content

Book Review: Divided by David Cay Johnston for Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day, and I am joining with other bloggers from more than 100 different countries around the world to talk about inequality. Inequality is a theme that is at the heart of many of the previous Blog Action Day themes. In the past we have talked about water, food, human rights, and other topics that should be equal to all, but certainly are not.

Since this is a book blog, I decided to review a book about inequality. There were many to choose from. In the end, I went with a book that is a collection of excerpts from other books, speeches and articles: Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality edited by David Cay Johnston. He brings together writings of leading scholars, activists and journalists to provide a deeper look into inequality in the United States.

Divided is split into seven sections: Overview, Income Inequality, Education, Health Care Inequality, Debt and Poverty, Policy and Family. The first two sections take up almost half of the book, which makes sense since income inequality is related to inequality in all of the other areas discussed later in the book. The writers talk about the history of inequality in the United States, and the fact that the divide between the rich and the middle class and poor has grown substantially in the past few decades. Many statistics stand out, including one highlighted in the book's jacket: "Shockingly, from 2009 to 2011, the top 1 percent got 121 percent of the income gains while the bottom 99 percent saw their income fall."

Inequality affects many aspects of our lives. President Barack Obama notes that inequality gives a stronger voice to those who can afford to pay lobbyists and fund political campaigns. Sean F. Reardon discusses the fact that high-income families are able to spend more resources on educational experiences for their children, such as high-priced preschool programs, specialized camps and many other opportunities that widen the academic achievement gap between rich and poor. Stephen Bezruchka talks about the fact that inequality is at the heart of the relatively poor health in the United States; "over thirty nations have better health by many measures than the United States." (p190-191)

One of the big changes is that it is not the gap between the poor and the middle class that is widening today; it is the gap between the richest of the rich, the 1 percent, and the rest of the country. It's the middle class that is suffering now. As Elizabeth Warren states:
America was once a world of three economic groups that shaded each into the other--a bottom, a middle, and a top--and economic security was the birthright of the latter two. Today the lines dividing Americans are changing. No longer is the division on economic security between the poor and everyone else. The division is between those who are prospering and those who are struggling, and much of the middle class is now on the struggling side. (p28-29)
Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Economy is a great collection of thoughts on the issue of inequality in America. It definitely leans toward the left in terms of political views, but it is a real eye-opener in terms of understanding inequality, education, economic policy and other aspects of our country that are affecting each and every one of us today.

Be sure to check out other blogs about Inequality by visiting the Blog Action Day website or check out #BAD2014 or #inequality on Twitter.


Popular posts from this blog

Getting back to blogging

It seems that blogging has dropped to the bottom of my list for the past year, and was pretty low for the year or two prior to that. I love to read, and am continuing to do so, but as my regular readers know I haven't been around much. My last blog post was almost a year ago!!

There are many things that have taken me away from blogging. Work has been much more challenging and interesting these past few years, but that means I really don't want to get back on the computer when I get home at night - or on the weekends.

Family life has been more busy with kids having multiple activities in the evenings, leaving little time to just hang out and write about the books that I read.

I will admit to a bit of a Facebook addiction, which means way too much time spent scrolling through my newsfeed instead of doing something more productive. This is one of the things I'm working on and hoping that this will free up some time for getting back to the blog.

Overall, life is good. Work is …

Banned Books Week: Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

This is the end of Banned Books Week and unfortunately, I haven't had a lot of time to write about banned books this year. But I did want to include at least one post about it, so today I wanted to share one of the book series that it seems most people are surprised to find on the list: Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park.

According to Wikipedia:
The Junie B. Jones series came in at #71 on the American Library Association's list of the Top 100 Banned or Challenged Books from 2000-2009. Reasons cited are poor social values taught by the books and Junie B. Jones not being considered a good role model due to her mouthiness and bad spelling/grammar. This is an interesting example of a banned book. Many times there are serious, controversial topics featured in books that are challenged. Things like homosexuality, drugs, vulgar language, etc. You can actually understand why people may not want their children to read those books, and why they may challenge their inclusion in school libra…

April Reading Review

Where exactly did April go? I swear it was just the middle of March and now it's May. Once again, I'm going to provide a quick review of each of the books I read last month. For the last two weeks of the month, I participated in the Spring Into Horror Readathon hosted by Michelle at Seasons of Reading. The only rule was that you had to read at least one book that was horror, thriller, etc. I read one book that qualified. With the exception of the first book in my list, the books I mention below were read during the readathon

My book club's May selection was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I had started reading this nonfiction book about the author's work representing men, women and children who were on death row in March but finished the book in April. This is an eye-opening story that everyone at my book club discussion agreed should be required reading for law schools and police officers and even legislators who are making the laws related to judgements. I learned to…