Why hasn't the poverty rate fallen in four decades, despite society's massive and varied efforts? The notable philosopher Charles Karelis contends that conventional explanations of poverty rest on a mistake. And so do the antipoverty policies they generate. "The Persistence of Poverty" proposes a new explanation of the behaviours that keep people poor, including unemployment, abandoning school, failure to save, and breaking the law. This provocative, thoughtful book finds a hidden rationality in the problematic conduct of many poor people, a rationality long missed by economists. Using science, history, fables, philosophical analysis, and common observation, Karelis engages us and provides us with a deeper grasp of the link between consumption and satisfaction. He thereupon provides us a new view of distributive justice and fresh policy recommendations for combating poverty. "The Persistence of Poverty" is the 'Big Idea' book that is overdue. With Karelis' bold work and original insights, the long-stalled campaign against poverty can begin to move forward once more.
Charles Karelis is Research Professor of Philosophy at The George Washington University. He has been formerly professor of philosophy at Williams College, director of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, and president of Colgate University.