If there's any doubt that the economic crisis persists, consider the takeaways from recent headlines: The official unemployment rate remains 8.2 percent. One in six Americans -- nearly 52 million people -- receives food stamps, even as Republican legislators in Washington and state capitals push austere cuts to social programs.
In a Gallup survey released Monday, two-thirds of Americans say they know someone who has been laid off in the last six months -- the highest share in the venerable polling firm's history. But the biggest takeaway is this: The gap between the rich and poor in the United States is not only worsening; it's also greater than those in many other countries. Few people are connecting the dots.
Enter The Rich and the Rest of Us : A Poverty Manifesto -- a richly insightful, slightly academic book released this month by talk-show host Tavis Smiley and professor Cornel West. The two men have been friends for 25 years. The current book project was born last summer during the duo's 18-city Poverty Tour, which extended from a Native American reservation in Minnesota to Appalachia and Washington, D.C. The tour came just as the Congressional Black Caucus launched a series of job fairs.
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