Dirty Laundry

The town’s dilapidated LaundromatIs packed this morning with a crowd of menAnd women, hauling bulky laundry sacks—A full month’s worth, in fact. It’s Saturday,The last one of the month, the day when allThe members of our church’s outreach teamProvide the rolls of quarters so that . . . . Continue Reading »

Charity or Philanthropy?

The Philanthropic Revolution: An Alternative History of American Charity  by jeremy beeruniversity of pennsylvania, 134 pages, $19.95 As I sat on the subway car reading Jeremy Beer’s new book The Philanthropic Revolution: An Alternative History of American Charity, a homeless man entered the . . . . Continue Reading »

Solving the Poor

In a recent article in the “New York Review of Books” on the television and stage adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s historical novels “Wolf Hall” and “Bring up the Bodies,” the Irish critic Fintan O’Toole tries to explain the present popularity of a story about Henry VIII’s obscure . . . . Continue Reading »

Bessie’s House

Five years ago, Mike Low started Bessie’s House in Kansas City’s Northeast neighborhood, where unemployment is at 16 percent and median household income is $25,000. An average resident has a one-in-twelve chance of being the victim of a violent crime. Any way you measure it, the place is stuck in poverty. But Low sees something different. Continue Reading »

The Poor Are Not Middle Class

Linda Tirado’s poverty was a horrible grind with no means of ready escape. “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts,” her blog post that chronicled this poverty, went viral last November. By early December, Tirado had critics—many, many critics—who more or less made her out to be a poor little rich girl gone slumming, trying to pull a scam with her gofundme page (that incidentally netted her some $61,000). A news outlet described her article as one of several web hoaxes that year. Continue Reading »