** $2.00 A Day by Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America talks about families with very little cash income, although they usually have other means of surviving including food stamps (SNAP) or housing subsidies. In many of these families, there are individuals who work, or want to work, but the jobs they can attain are paid poorly and are extremely unstable. The authors show that the combination of the welfare reforms of the Clinton years and the recent recession seems to have been lethal to many families on the edge. They do not offer many solutions, perhaps because the problem is truly complex, but they do suggest that making work pay more, through a combination of a higher minimum wage, better labor protection, and an enhanced form of the Earned Income Tax Credit is probably the way to go. I was struck by how many of the families they described could have done so much better if they had had just a little bit of help at the right time, rather than a faceless bureaucracy that needs time and mounds of paperwork to disgorge any assistance.


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