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May 27, Simon rated it it was amazing. Absolutely invaluable, phenomenal, and heartbreaking book about the d evolutions of welfare and the labor market. Jul 06, Lorette rated it really liked it Shelves: for-school. Will make you angry.

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Apr 20, Allison rated it it was amazing. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Abstract Based on qualitative research, this article looks at the impacts of the Great Recession on low-income and poor families, focusing on their challenges and survival strategies in the wake of the downturn. Issue Section:.

Both Hands Tied

You do not currently have access to this article. Download all figures. Sign in. You could not be signed in. Yet Both Hands Tied reveals that the women often end up in truly dead-end jobs. To qualify for federal aid, they are frequently assigned to community service, sorting clothes for Goodwill or cleaning public housing offices.


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If they refuse these "workfare" jobs, they may be denied assistance. Their caseworkers monitor their attendance and dock their pay if they miss hours. They found that none of the women was a stranger to work. Virtually all had worked since they were teenagers and had numerous jobs, often lasting more than a year, sometimes with promotions.

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Among the personal stories in Both Hands Tied is that of a single mother, a former certified nursing assistant in Milwaukee, who goes on public assistance when her blood pressure during a pregnancy becomes dangerously high. Her former employer did not provide medical leave. Now, seven months after giving birth, she has been assigned to collect rubbish and tend to the landscaping on city traffic islands. But Congress was not expected to significantly expand the program long term.

In , as America's cities were burning, President Richard Nixon , a Republican, proposed a plan that would have represented a phenomenal expansion of the nation's safety net.

This bit of history, absent now in political memory but retold in The War on Welfare , was called the Family Assistance Plan. It was aimed at blue-collar workers, who were losing manufacturing jobs to cheap labor overseas. The National Association of Manufacturers and a group of the country's major industrialists, including the heads of Xerox and the Ford Motor Company, supported the concept. In a turning point for New Deal-style politics, her book shows, Nixon's plan died after four years of debate, defeated by a conservative onslaught and bitter divisions in the liberal camp.

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Conservatives attacked it as a "giant step deeper into the quagmire of the welfare state. Today, during the country's worst economic crisis in 70 years, even the Brookings Institution , the Washington, D. But that recession was nothing more than a modest thunder storm; the current recession is a hurricane. Brookings is projecting the poverty rate will rise to Early in , while running for president, Barack Obama made a vow to cut poverty in half in 10 years, adding, "I do so with great humility because it is a very ambitious goal.

These three books suggest ways the goal can be reached: Raise the minimum wage. Provide more jobs, better job training and universal child care. Establish a universal monthly child allowance, as 88 other countries have done. Expand unemployment benefits and give them to part-time workers. Require employers to provide paid family leave. Make preschool and college available at low cost or for free. Or take the advice of Johnnie Tillmon, the national welfare rights leader, Los Angeles laundrywoman and mother of six who said back in , during the Nixon years, "If I were president I'd start paying women a living wage for doing the work we are already doing — child raising and housekeeping.

And the welfare crisis would be over. Just like that. A new book, "Just Give Money to the Poor," says the poor will spend the cash wisely and boost the economy, too. Welfare reform, 15 years old this week, was designed to get the structurally poor into jobs. What happens when there are lots more poor and lots fewer jobs?