Poverty's Complexity and Psychological Impact

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Demos Senior Fellow Sasha Abramsky joined the Melissa Harris-Perry panel to discuss Representative Cantor's proposed $40 billion cuts to SNAP.

Sasha explains that, in writing The American Way of Poverty, he was able to see firsthand the complexity and diversity of poverty. "I think often times our political classes tend to think in stereotypes, so we think of the poorest, the undeserving as somehow morally at blame for their own poverty. It's absolute nonsense. [...] 1 in 7 Americans needs assistance. That means that in every congressional district, on average, there's about 100,000 people on food stamps." 

He also describes the "existential loneliness" that comes with poverty, forcing people to pull away from the rituals of consumption that guide the American way of life. "You can't afford to participate publicly. You shrivel back into yourself." The psychological collapse then directly impacts one's capacity for political participation and engagement.