Chestertown, MD, October 28, 2004 — Washington College's Goldstein Program in Public Affairs welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former New York Times correspondent David Shipler to campus Thursday, November 11, to discuss “Poverty in America: The Working Poor.” The talk will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the College's Hynson Lounge. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
In a nation awash in media that convey images of material and personal success, poverty in America has become almost invisible to the public eye. “Poverty is an unsatisfying term, for poverty is not a category that can be delineated by the government's dollar limits on annual income,” writes Shipler in his book, The Working Poor: Invisible in America (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004). “In real life, it is an unmarked area along a continuum, a broader region of hardship than the society usually recognizes.”
While poverty might be difficult to define, Shipler's study reveals that millions of Americans work hard in low-paying jobs simply to survive, living on the edge where what are minor obstacles for most—a car breakdown, illness, or family problem—often lead to irreversible downward financial spirals. “Most of the people I write about in this book do not have the luxury of rage,” he writes. “They are caught in exhausting struggles. Their wages do not lift them far enough from poverty to improve their lives, and their lives, in turn, hold them back. The term by which they are usually described, ‘working poor,' should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America.” In the end, Schipler is not only content to dissect the diverse personal and social problems that lead to and perpetuate poverty, he makes pointed, informed recommendations for change and for public and private sector cooperation to loosen poverty's grip on the lives of millions.
Shipler worked for the New York Times from 1966 to 1988, reporting from New York, Saigon, Moscow, and Jerusalem before serving as chief diplomatic correspondent in Washington, DC. He has also written for The New Yorker, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. He is the author of three other books—Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams, Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land—winner of a 1987 Pulitzer Prize—and A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America. Shipler has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and has taught at Princeton University, American University, and Dartmouth College. He lives in Chevy Chase, MD.
The talk is sponsored by Washington College's Goldstein Program in Public Affairs, established in honor of the late Louis L. Goldstein, a 1935 alumnus and Maryland's longest serving elected official. The Goldstein Program sponsors lectures, symposia, visiting fellows, travel and other projects that bring students and faculty together with leaders in public policy and the media.