Chapter Six: Poverty's History

A. Pre-industrial Societies

The history of poverty begins with the history of wealth. Prior to the rise of large-scale agriculture, human beings lived in self-sufficient tribes, either wandering as nomads from region to region or settling in lush environments as hunters and gatherers. Resources were shared among all members of the tribe. Though there was some private ownership of personal property, these early societies generally assured everyone access to basic necessities. Warfare between tribes was rare, especially in areas with abundant natural resources. Life was basically peaceful and cooperative.

The development of large-scale agriculture produced fundamental changes. Growing numbers of people began to plant, harvest and store large quantities of surplus food. People settled close to the food storehouses and became increasingly dependent on them. Rulers of these centralized societies came to exercise critical power over the general welfare and imposed taxes to enlarge their own holdings. To preserve their wealth and power, these rulers distributed material rewards to loyal subjects and deprived those who opposed them. In these ways, dramatic differences between rich and poor developed.

Even in early agricultural societies, however, access to land - the most important resource - was not restricted. Private ownership of land was rare. Land belonged to the tribe or to a clan within the tribe who provided for the needs of all members of the tribe.

In Europe, the fall of the Roman Empire in 4th century, AD, was followed by a period of subsistence farming with little governmental oversight. In this anarchistic environment, powerful landowners were able to forcefully exploit their weaker neighbors. This vulnerability led small farmers to negotiate for protection. These networks eventually became formalized in the manorial system of lord and peasant that prevailed under feudalism. Under this system, land was divided into three categories:

Peasants did not own the land that provided them with subsistence. But their right to the land of their birth, called "tenure," protected them from eviction. This right was inherited from generation to generation. Lords were required to protect their peasants militarily and to provide economic security during hard times by dispensing food and credit.

In exchange, peasants were required to make payments to their lord, do periodic public-service work, and serve in the military when needed. "Free peasants" could move to another regions; all other peasants were "serfs," bound to the land for their lifetime. But even free peasants generally did not have enough money to migrate.

Over time, manors became larger and increasingly owned by fewer and fewer people, especially monarchs and the church. Population growth in rural areas eventually produced surplus labor. And business opportunities in the cities increased as mercantilism and shipping advanced. So lords increasingly allowed more peasants to move to urban areas. Some purchased their freedom and others escaped. Away from the manor, peasants had more individual liberty. But they had to compete with large numbers of other unemployed former peasants for relatively few low-paying jobs. In many areas, especially in Britain, peasants resisted leaving and were often forced off the land by "enclosures" that fenced off both the commons and lands farmed by peasants. Lords often enclosed these lands so they could graze their own sheep instead. By 1600, the manorial system had largely collapsed as monarchs assumed centralized control of entire countries.

B. Pre-Colonial North America

This long transition from the economic security of subsistence life-styles to the insecurity of modern economies is illuminated by the relatively sudden colonization of North America by Europeans in the 17th century. When Europeans first migrated to North America, they encountered no poverty among the Native Americans who had lived there for at least 10,000 years. Living on a lush land that was a veritable Garden of Eden, the more than ten million inhabitants north of the Rio Grande River lived in stable communities that provided for the basic needs of all mem-bers of the community. Hunger and homelessness were unheard of. It was unthinkable to allow another human being to go hungry or sleep outdoors when food and shelter were available. The necessities for full participation in the life of the community were afforded everyone.

The following description of a Creek town during the sixteenth century is typical of the time:

...the main food supply was grown on a large field belonging to the town. It was laid out in family plots, but the planting and cultivating was done by the whole town working together under the orders of the chief, who worked side by side with the other citizens. The town also turned out together for the harvesting, but each family gathered the produce of its own plot and placed it in its own storehouse. Each also contributed voluntarily to a public store which was kept in a large building in the field and was used under the direction of the town chief for public needs.
Warfare from time to time posed a threat to security, but war was generally infrequent and, compared to modern practice, limited in its scope. As noted by historian Howard Zinn, tribes that lived in more hospitable environs were considerably less prone to engage in war. But even the notorious Apaches of the Southwest, when first encountered by the Coronado expedition from Spain, were found to be peaceful, as reported by a member of that expedition:
These Indians subsist ... entirely on cattle [buffalo], for they neither plant nor harvest maize. With the skins they build their houses; with the skins they clothe and shoe themselves; from the skins they make ropes and also obtain wool. From the sinews they make thread, with which they sew their clothing and likewise their tents. From the bones they shape awls and the dung they use for firewood, since there is no other fuel in all that land.... They are a gentle people, not cruel, faithful in their friendship, and skilled in the use of signs.
When the Spanish first settled on the coast of what is now California, they found small tribelets scattered throughout the area subsisting primarily on acorns. The fish were so thick in the streams that the Spanish could simply throw stones into the water to kill them. Birds would darken the sun like an eclipse as they flew. One ball from a Spanish musket would kill several birds at a time. In sum, as stated by Angie Debo in A History of the Indians of the United States, "the United States was inhabited by a self-sufficient people before the coming of the white man."

Despite the bountiful environment, the first Europeans had trouble surviving in North America. The first European colony, Vinland, established by Vikings from Scandinavia, was abandoned after two attempts around the year 1000. Ponce de Leon of Spain explored Florida in 1513 and other Spaniards explored Southern and Southwestern areas of the United States in the 1540s, but left behind no settlers. The next attempt at settlement was by English settlers left by Sir Walter Raleigh on the islands off the coast of North Carolina in 1585. Sir Francis Drake discovered these settlers a year later starving and desperate to return to England. In 1587, Raleigh tried again, sending 107 men, women and children back to the same islands. They all perished. The fifth European attempt to settle the East Coast, an effort by the English Plymouth Company to secure a town in Maine, also failed.

On May 24, 1607, the London Company finally managed to establish a permanent settlement when 105 English settlers founded Jamestown on the coast of Virginia. If it had not been for extreme good fortune, this effort would have failed as well. As described by historian Hugh Brogan, "Disaster dogged the first Virginians, and disappointment their patrons, for nearly twenty years."

The local tribe, under Chief Powhattan, taught the English how to plant corn and yams and become expert woodsmen. But only thirty-eight settlers survived the first year. During the "starving time" of the second year, the survivors engaged in cannibalism. Three years after their arrival, the settlers had given up and were sailing away when a new ship with supplies and reinforcements happened to meet them on their way out. Upon landing, they discovered a town in ruins, with gates off the hinges, well water spoiled, and houses torn up and burned.

Over the course of the next two decades, hundreds of new settlers came to Jamestown. But almost as many either died there or returned to England. By 1630, the town held only 2,500 residents. The success of the new endeavor was soon ensured, however, by the profitable export of a new drug, tobacco, that had recently been imported to Europe by the Portuguese and Spanish. The European addiction to tobacco provided Jamestown with the means to prosper.

Without the support of Native Americans, Jamestown would have perished, as did previous efforts to establish a colony. The same pattern was repeated thereafter along the Eastern seaboard. If Native Americans had organized sustained and forceful resistance to the English colonizers, the conquest of the "New World" would have been considerably postponed. Instead, Native Americans generally tried to co-exist peacefully with the English and provided critical assistance. This aid enabled Europeans to overcome the poverty with which many of them struggled initially.

The London Company, the private business that undertook the settlement at Jamestown, did not survive. Unable to generate profits for its investors, the company closed and the English Crown took over responsibility for governing Jamestown.

Before closing, however, the company made a momentous change in its system of land ownership. Their new approach provided a model for the rest of the colonies. At first, the London Company claimed all the new land in the area as its own property. But in 1618, the Company modified this monopoly and enabled each new male settler to assume ownership of fifty acres of land for each person brought over from England, including himself. In exchange, the settler paid the company a nominal fee. This entitlement enabled immigrants who were unable to own their own land in England to do so in the colonies.

But more than half of those who migrated from England to the North American colonies did not come as landowners. They came as indentured servants, bound to work for their master in virtual slavery for five to seven years, after which they were free. Most of these servants had been severely poverty-stricken in England.

Large numbers of landless peasants, unable to find work in the cities, were causing social disorder in England. As Howard Zinn reports:

...from the reign of Elizabeth on, laws were passed to punish [the poor], imprison them in workhouses, or exile them.... Such persons found begging could be stripped to the waist and whipped bloody, could be sent out of the city, or transported out of the country.
The English Poor Laws of 1601, upon which American welfare laws have been based, delegated responsibility for the poor to local governments, which were required to establish taxes to provide relief to the poor.

During the 1600s, most of the indentured servants who went to the East Coast were prisoners, convicted criminals, vagrants, beggars and other disenfranchised English citizens with minimal skills who had begun to swell the urban areas in England. Pushed by hard conditions, lured by an aggressive advertising campaign promising free or virtually free land, and often forced out of the country by the court, about 150,000 English, mostly from around London, migrated to the United States in the 1600s.

During this period, indentured servants were cheaper than African slaves (who were first taken to the English colonies in 1619) and were often treated with severe physical brutality. According to Zinn:

After signing the indenture, in which the immigrants agreed to pay their cost of passage by working for a master for five or seven years, they were often imprisoned until the ship sailed, to make sure they did not run away.... The voyage to America lasted eight, ten, or twelve weeks, and the servants were packed into ships with the same fanatic concern for profits that marked the slave ships.... Indentured servants were bought and sold like slaves.... Against the rosy accounts of better living standards in the Americas one must place many others, like one immigrant's letter from America: 'Whoever is well off in Europe better remain there. Here is misery and distress, same as everywhere, and for certain persons and conditions incomparably more than in Europe.'

Beatings and whippings were common. Servant women were raped.... The Maryland court records showed many servant suicides.... Many [of those who died from diseases] were poor children, gathered up by the hundreds on the streets of England and sent to Virginia to work. The master tried to control completely the sexual lives of the servants.... Servants could not marry without permission, could be separated from their families, could be whipped for various offenses.

[In the late 1600s a report from the military stated]: 'Virginia is at present poor and more populous than ever. There is great apprehension of a rising among the servants, owing to their great necessities and want of clothes; they may plunder the storehouses and ships.' Escape was easier than rebellion.... The mechanism of control was formidable. Strangers had to show passports to prove they were free men. Agreements between the colonies provided for the extradition of fugitive servants.

During the early stages of colonization, once indentured servants earned their freedom, they were able to assume ownership of a sizable piece of land. This arrangement provided early settlers with a base of security and the means to subsist minimally. As such, it provided a key incentive to persuade English citizens to endure the hardships and dangers associated with traveling a long distance to take land from its native inhabitants, who increasingly offered violent resistance.

As the coastal areas became more populated, the authorities revoked indentured servants' right to land ownership. Many former servants of the landless were forced to work as tenant farmers for landowners or to squat on unsettled land on the frontier, only to be forced off the land later as the population expanded westward.

In New England, the English Crown granted land to colonial legislatures. The legislatures granted ownership rights to town councils. And the town councils distributed land to individual settlers. But in the rest of the colonies, the Crown generally granted the new land to Governors, who in turn distributed it to selected individuals. Regardless, throughout the colonies, land ownership tended to be concentrated in the hands of a few. By 1700:

The 250,000 settlers who lived in the mainland colonies to the south of Canada in 1700 grew to more than two million by 1776. The top 1 percent of the population owned about 15 percent of the wealth. The top 10 percent owned nearly half the wealth. More than 20 percent of the pop-ulation were African slaves. At any one time, another sizable percentage were indentured servants and even more whites were landless. Most whites owned little or no property. Less than a third of all landowners had large holdings, while another third were small farmers.

In some areas, wealth was even more concentrated. In Boston, for example, the top 1 percent owned 44 percent of the wealth, and the percentage of poor who owned no property had increased to 29 percent, more than twice the 14 percent it had been eighty years before.

Based on the English example, each town levied taxes on its residents in order to provide relief to established residents who fell onto hard times. Some "poorhouses" existed in the 1700s, but they were few in number. Most of the poor lived in the community. When hardship hit, the poor stayed in their own homes or were incorporated into other households. Families often bid on compensation for the poor who lived with them: the township made payments to the lowest bidder. Those who took care of the destitute in exchange for these relatively small payments were often brutal in their treatment of their charges.

Criminals typically were not incarcerated. Instead, they were fined, placed in public stocks, whipped, forced to leave town, or executed. People considered insane were generally cared for in private homes. Orphans were made apprentices and incorporated into new households.

The homeless poor, including refugee widows and orphans from the frontier who had lost their male head of household, were "warned away" when they approached a town and forced to keep moving. Residents were often required to register their guests, who were limited in how long they could visit. These measures to prevent homeless people from settling in a new area were deemed necessary partly because townships did not want to be burdened with financial responsibility for additional poor persons.

Homeless persons without proof of local residency were arrested and transported to the town where they had most recently lived. Often this transport would consist of the town constable taking the vagrant to the constable of the nearest town, who would do the same to the next town, until finally the vagrant was returned home. Each town expected to be reimbursed for the expense involved, which led to burdensome disputes in court to determine liability.

Port cities served as human warehouses for newly-arrived poor and near-poor immigrants in search of a better life, creating "a permanent and constantly renewed stratum of poverty that otherwise would never have existed," as described by historian Bernard Bailyn. Most of these new immigrants

spread out to the countryside, settling where employment was available, or where kin or sect associations created natural communities for them, or where land was obtainable for use or purchase, or simply where the available routes of transportation led most easily.
Those who squatted or rented land performed a valuable service to land speculators. They cleared the land, prepared the soil for cultivation, built dwellings, and provided business to local merchants. In so doing, they boosted the value of nearby land. Land owners could then sub-divide and sell their property for enormous profits, thereby contributing to the growing concentration of wealth among the elite.

In the 1600s and 1700s, there was very little wage labor in North America. Most people earned a living by farming (as landowners or as tenant farmers), engaging in a craft, or opening a family-owned business. In 1750, only 6 percent of those on the New York City tax rolls were listed as "laborers" who received wages. The easy availability of land enabled most whites to live at a minimally decent level according to the standards of the day, even if it meant going to the frontier and squatting.

African slaves, however, were far from free to be self-sufficient. Prices for slaves fell rapidly in the latter half of the 1600s following the entry of British merchants into the slave trade, which greatly increased the supply of slaves. So the North American colonists began using Africans rather than indentured servants for manual labor (and encouraged their agents in England to begin recruiting skilled artisans instead as indentured servants). The slave population in the colonies grew to almost half a million in 1776, or about 20 percent of the total population. In low country South Carolina, three-fourths of its population of 100,000 in 1776 were African, mostly working rice and indigo plantations.

The Southern plantation system created a greater gap in wealth between rich and poor whites than was the case in most of the North. But poor whites still received privileges not provided Africans, which encouraged them to unite with the plantation owners, who had complete license in how they treated their slaves. In relative isolation, these slave owners typically relied upon extreme cruelty to induce passivity.

Though poverty among whites was less severe in the North than in the South, poor whites were numerous enough to be of great concern in Northern towns, especially among taxpayers who lamented the financial burden of providing relief.

C. Post-Colonial United States

Following victory in the War of Independence, wealth became even more concentrated. The new governments confiscated property from many landowners who had defended England and transferred ownership to already wealthy landowners. And growing immigration brought more poor people to the continent. The specter of English-style industrialization, with its promise of a much larger population of beggars, vagabonds, and other destitute individuals, loomed on the horizon. This apprehension contributed to a re-evaluation of the system of "outdoor relief" and a move to confine the poor indoors in various forms of total institutions.

In the early 1800s, numerous local governments conducted official studies of how other governments were dealing with the poor. Most of these reports concluded with recommendations in favor of the new total institutions, in large part because they were considered to be less expensive to the taxpayer. For example, in 1827 a committee of Philadelphians issued the following description of the alms house in Baltimore:

...the Alms House of the city and county of Baltimore, is ... situated on a Farm of upwards of three hundred acres, two and a half miles from the city ... enclosed by a wall.

It consists of a centre building and wings, capable of accommodating 800 or 900 paupers, and contains

First, An Infirmary for the indigent sick.

Secondly, a Lying-in Hospital.

Thirdly, A Work House for the employment of vagrants, and such of the poor, as may be capable of contributing in some degree towards their own support.

Fourthly, An Asylum for destitute children, to which a school is annexed.

Fifthly, A Lunatic Hospital.

Sixthly, A Medical and Chirurgical School, for the advancement and diffusion of knowledge, in these important branches of science....

The officers of the house are a Master or Steward ... a Matron .... a Physician ... resident [medical] students ... [and] a Superintendent of the Farm....

No other salaries of any kind are paid to persons in the house; [other] duties ... being performed by paupers. All, however, are credited with any work done, or service rendered, towards the payment of their expenses of maintenance.... Should the amount due them for labour performed exceed the debt incurred, they are not allowed the balance, but a discharge is granted if required. Paupers absconding without leave, or before they have remunerated the house of their labour, for all expenses, are declared by law guilty of a misdemeanor, and are liable to 12 months imprisonment. When persons are sent to the house with good clothing, watch, or other valuable articles, these are taken from them, and replaced by a suit of house uniform; on their discharge, the whole is returned. This regulation frequently prevents desertion, as it would be punished by the forfeiture of the property....

The average number of paupers in the house is about 400 - for the year ending 30th April, 1826 it was 292-1/3... {A]dmitted during the year, including 17 children born in the house, 739....

Of the whole number admitted, more than three-fourths were positively ascertained to have been reduced to pauperism by intemperance; the proportion of foreigners exceeded one-third. It is estimated there is an average of one-fourth sick, one-fourth children, and nearly a fourth aged and infirm, or lame, or maimed, and incapable of labour. Those who are able, are always kept at work....

They do not relieve the mother of an illegitimate child from the burthen of its support.... A woman of this class coming into the house for the purpose of being confined, is held responsible to the trustees, for all expenses incurred thereby, and she is not permitted to leave it until she shall, by her labour or other means, have discharged the debt. She is then obliged to take the child with her, and provide for it.....

...[T]he estimated population of the city of Baltimore at the present time, exceeds 70,000 [thus about 1 percent were in the alms house at some time during the year].

The following report by the New York Secretary of State in 1824 presents a picture of poverty in that state, as well as some statistics about poverty elsewhere:
The poor of this state consist of two classes - the permanent poor, or those who are regularly supported, during the whole year, at the public expense; and the occasional, or temporary poor, or those who receive occasional relief, during a part of the year, chiefly in the autumn or winter.

Of the first class, according to the official reports and estimates received, there are, in this state, 6,896; and of the last, 15,215; making a grand total of 22,111 paupers. Among the permanent paupers, there are 446 idiots and lunatics; 287 persons who are blind; 928 who are extremely aged and infirm; 797 who are lame, or in such a confirmed state of ill health, as to be totally incapable of labor; 2604 children, under 14 years of age, and 1789 paupers of both sexes, all of whom, though not in the vigor of life, may yet be considered capable of earning their subsistence, if proper labor were assigned, and suitable means used to induce them to perform it, and who labor might produce at least 150,000 dollars annually to the state.... 5883 are either aliens or naturalized foreigners; and 16,228 are native citizens....

In this state, there is one permanent pauper for every 220 souls, and one for every 100 occasionally.

In Massachusetts, one for every 68 souls is a permanent pauper.

In Connecticut, one for every 150.

In New Hampshire, one for every 100.

In Delaware, one for every 227.

In the interior counties of Pennsylvania, one for every 339, and throughout the state, one for every 265.

Thus, according to this account, most of the "permanent" poor of working age were considered capable of working. And most of those receiving aid received it in the autumn and winter, when employment opportunities were more limited due to bad weather (for most unskilled labor had to be done outdoors). In both accounts, most of those receiving aid year-round were children, aged, or disabled, as is the case today.

One reason for the growing concern about poverty at this time was that in 1823 the first English-style factory was established in Massachusetts. The Industrial Revolution, and its legacy of unemployed workers, was clearly headed to the United States.

As summarized by Michael B. Katz in In the Shadow of the Poorhouse, the advent of the factory quickly undermined the position of the self-sufficient skilled tradesman, who could work at home or in a small shop. Increasingly, workers were compelled to sell their services in exchange for wages. The percentage of wage laborers in the workforce grew rapidly throughout the 1800s. The manufacture of products was broken down into components that relatively unskilled workers could learn quickly, greatly increasing the number of people who could help produce a particular product. This large supply of potential workers drove down wages, which prevented most workers from saving enough money to cushion them and their families during hard times.

Periods of unemployment became inevitable for many workers, for most manufacturers altered the size of their payroll throughout the year. Most factory workers were unable to find steady work. Employers would often fire young apprentices following an initial period of apprenticeship so they would not have to pay journeyman's wages. Since the lack of modern transportation required workers to live close to home, when factories closed or reduced its workforce, unemployed workers were forced to travel to find work. During the mid-1800s, not more than a third of households remained in the same town or city for more than a decade. These transients would typically have little savings and would often be forced to seek public assistance.

The mechanization of agriculture, with its seasonal employment patterns, also contributed to the growth of poverty. The editor of a rural New York newspaper in 1857 reported that "after employment for a few weeks or months, [farm laborers] were left to beg, steal, or go to the poorhouse.... This has been the situation of farm laborers in western New York for the past ten or twenty years."

The industrialization of the manufacture of domestic goods such as clothes and small home furnishings reduced household income that had previously been generated by farm women working at home. Land devel-opment, the decline in land fertility, periodic bad weather, and plagues of insects also contributed to rural poverty in various areas from time to time. Working under dangerous conditions, such as digging canals through marshes or building turnpikes in torrid heat, often led to illnesses that threw laborers into poverty.

Mechanization steadily drove large numbers of farm workers to the nation's cities in search of work. The large number of migrants quickly exceeded the capacity of cities to provide jobs. Inadequate diets and unsanitary living conditions often resulted in devastating illness. Jane Addams described conditions in Chicago as follows:

The streets are inexpressibly dirty, the number of schools inadequate, sanitary legislation unenforced, the street lighting bad, the paving miserable and altogether lacking in the alleys and smaller streets, and the stables foul beyond description. Hundreds of houses are unconnected with the street sewer.
Another problem in the North were long winters. As workers became increasingly dependent on outdoor wage labor, employment opportunities significantly diminished during the winter months. Involuntary unemployment and widespread poverty were also worsened by intermittent recessions and depressions, which were at times regional in nature.

During the Panic of 1819, an economist of the day stated, "The Bank [of the United States] was saved, and the people were ruined." As reported by Katz:

During one depression in ante-bellum Philadelphia, laborers worked for fifty cents a day; the wages of handloom weavers were slashed; the demand for domestic servants and seamstresses declined; and everywhere, disease, hunger, and destitution stalked the streets.
The lack of jobs, especially jobs that paid a living wage, was a problem throughout this period, even during times of relative prosperity. In 1822, an esteemed local official, Josiah Quincy, testified concerning 700 men registered with an employment society in Boston "for whom work cannot be obtained." "These men long for work," he reported. "They anxiously beg for it; yet it is not to be found." The 1824 New York Secretary of State report quoted above found:
there is no adequate provision for the employment of the poor throughout the state.... This is indeed a very principle defect. Without providing employment for the poor, no system can be productive of much good, either to the public, or the paupers themselves.
One 1828 report found that there was no work
whatever, how disagreeable, or loathsome, or dangerous, or deleterious soever it may be, or however reduced the wages [that did not] find some persons willing to follow it, rather than beg or steal.
This same report found that a typical laborer could meet a bare bones budget only if the laborer did not miss one day of work due to illness or loss of employment.

Employment opportunities for women were even worse. Having been unable to accumulate a significant degree of savings while their husbands were alive, widows often had no choice but to go on relief or live in a poorhouse, unless they had relatives able to assist them and their children. The elderly without families to care for them were also destitute.

By 1828, when Andrew Jackson was elected President, the "social inheritance" of wealth had become well-established. The children of the wealthy were likely to be wealthy as adults and the children of the poor were likely to be poor. The ability of the poor to establish themselves and prosper had become severely limited, compared to the early days of colonization. The wealthy were not only able to pass on to their children their accumulated wealth when they died; they were also able to provide their children with other important advantages from the moment of birth. These advantages included superior schooling and facilitating their entry into the "old boys' network" of private business that enabled them to increase their inherited wealth.

As the gap between rich and poor steadily increased prior to the Civil War and the ranks of the destitute grew in number, locked-door "total institutions" emerged to keep the poor "out of sight, out of mind." These new institutions that confined inmates twenty-four hours a day included:

The form of the institution varied, but the common denominator among the inmates was the same: poverty. Virtually all of the inmates in these total institutions were poor.

D. From the Civil War to the Great Depression

In the North, following the War of Independence, slavery was slowly abolished, but severe restrictions on the freedom of African Americans persisted. During the Civil War, for example, the federal government paid African Americans only three-fourths of what they paid whites. Even after the Civil War, African Americans could not vote in 19 of the 24 Northern states. Some areas that enabled African Americans to vote required that they own property in order to do so, even though the same requirement was not placed on whites. Discrimination against African Americans in both housing and employment was commonplace throughout the North, resulting in a much higher incidence of poverty than among whites.

"Black codes" quickly tied former slaves to a serf-like status in the South. Mississippi, for example, outlawed the renting of farmland to African Americans. In 1877, President Hayes removed federal troops from the South and lifted restrictions on racial discrimination. In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional to segregate public facilities according to race. These federally-endorsed codes of segregation led to widespread lynchings, pervasive discrimination, and limits on economic opportunity in the South that were even more severe than those in the North. Poverty among African Americans in the South was the norm.

As captured by Jacqueline Jones in The Dispossessed: America's Underclasses from the Civil War to the Present, this poverty was fomented in large part by the federal government. During the Civil War, the military established a farm-labor contract system that the Freedmen's Bureau perpetuated after the war. According to this system, farm laborers had to agree to a 12-month contract that obligated them to remain on the land they worked until that contract expired, at which time they were paid a share of the crop (hence, "sharecropping").

Since farm laborers are needed mostly during planting and harvesting seasons, landowners would often limit provision of food during slack seasons. But workers who left prior to the end of the contract were arrested and returned to their employer. In addition, vagrancy laws made it illegal for African Americans to travel without proof that they were employed by a white person. The arrest of African Americans under these laws led to the use of chain gangs for construction projects.

These restrictions on worker's ability to travel to look for better working conditions enabled landowners to maximize profits by minimizing compensation paid to workers. Compensation included on-site housing provided by the owner. Workers' cabins often were run-down shacks protected from the wind by newspaper. The quality of the housing was so poor and the annual payment so minimal, minor differences between one owner's housing and another - such as having screens on the windows - would be enough to persuade a worker to switch farms when contracts expired at the end of the year. Under these conditions, in order to cope, farm workers typically had to forage the woods for food, fish the streams, and cultivate home gardens - hardly fitting the stereotype of the "listless poor."

Even in the South, following the Civil War, most of the poor were whites. At the start of the war, about 25 percent of whites owned neither slaves nor land and some one-half were yeoman farmers, many of whom were hard-pressed to make ends meet. Between 1850 and 1860, for example, two-thirds of the adult white males in one wealthy county of Alabama moved to other areas of the South. These migrants often squatted on unclaimed land while relying on hunting, fishing, gardening, and foraging to survive, until forced to move again.

The war worsened the plight of most whites in the South. After the war, the Freedman's Bureau set up "poor colonies" inhabited by both whites and African Americans. Over the course of the next several decades, Southern sharecroppers and tenant farmers experienced no significant degree of improvement in their living conditions. Around the turn of the century, some one-third of all sharecroppers in the Deep South were being held against their will. Even though the Supreme Court outlawed this practice of debt peonage in 1911, afterwards many croppers were still intimidated into not leaving their master's land without consent.

By 1920, there were only 180,000 full African American owners of farmland and these farms were usually small and poorly located. Small farmers, both African American and white, often had to send family members to work in factories or in the homes of the more affluent.

Between the Civil War and the Great Depression, transiency became widespread as poor whites and African Americans broke free of the constraints placed on them and persistently tried to find improved economic opportunity elsewhere. This constant "shifting" of location reinforced the stereotype of the poor as unreliable and irresponsible. But their struggle to survive actually reflects hard work and determination, rather than laziness and resignation.

In 1886, acting on a case brought by a railroad corporation, the United States Supreme Court ruled that private corporations have the rights of a "person" as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. This decision facilitated the further concentration of wealth. By 1904, corporations controlled 80 percent of the nation's industrial production.

During the late 1800s, epidemics and death spread through slums in Northern cities that had no toilets, sewers, or fresh water. The depressions of 1837 and 1857 threw hundreds of thousands of workers out of work and onto the edge of starvation. But it was not until the depression of 1873-79 that large-scale homelessness first hit American cities, as two million workers lost their jobs. The Panic of 1893 once again led to several years of massive unemployment and another surge in homelessness.

Throughout the 1800s, the steady seizure of land inhabited by Native Americans proceeded apace. In 1886, the Apache chief Geronimo, who led the last sustained resistance, surrendered. In 1887 Congress passed the Allotment Act, which led to the loss of another 86 million acres of valuable land (almost equal to the size of California). By 1900, the Native American population had almost been exterminated, reduced to a mere 300,000. Native Americans were largely confined to inhospitable reservations where they were forced to live in abject poverty.

The Progressive Era in the early 1900s saw certain minor reforms in total institutions, such as parole for prisoners and foster homes for orphans. But the basic nature and function of these locked-door institutions remained the same. They served to warehouse large numbers of poor people who would otherwise cause trouble, whether it be social dis-order or anguish for the social conscience of the affluent.

Poverty persisted throughout the country. In the late 1920s, 60 percent of American families did not earn enough to meet their basic needs. Half the population of New York City, for example, lived in slums. The richest one-tenth of 1 percent of all families received as much income as the bottom 42 percent in the 1920s.

The percentage of the nation's wealth owned by the top 1 percent increased steadily throughout the 1800s and early 1900s (with only a slight dip caused by the Civil War) to about 35 percent in the early 1920, and then rapidly increased to 43 percent in 1929 (its historic high), only to fall to about 32 percent during the Great Depression.

In 1924, the United States established dramatic new restrictions on immigration. The number of Europeans allowed into the country was greatly reduced and preference was given to lighter-skinned immigrants from England and northwest Europe. Asian immigration was prohibited totally, as had been the case since the early 1880s when the importation of Chinese was barred. There was no limit set on the number of immigrants from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, however. Employers in the Southwest successfully pressed for the ability to employ low-wage workers from south of the border. The federal government unofficially permitted a substantial flow of illegal workers into the Southwest. But the Depression of the 1930s led to the deportation of many Mexican workers who were no longer needed.

Increased destitution during the 1930s resulted in the re-establishment of public-income assistance. This time, however, the federal government assumed partial responsibility for funding, rather than leaving only local governments responsible. The Social Security Act, in particular, established benefits for retired workers and the families of workers who died prior to retirement, lost their jobs, or were injured on the job. These programs were expanded in the 1950s and 1960s, especially by extending coverage to mothers and the permanently disabled.

Recent decades have seen the disappearance of certain total institutions, such as alms houses and work houses, and the emergence of others, such as nursing homes and board-and-care homes for those labeled mentally ill. As particular institutions have fallen in or out of favor, however, the percentage of the population confined in total institutions has remained fairly constant at about 1-2 percent.

E. 1973: The New Deal and the Post-War Boom

As discussed in Chapter One, World War II brought with it a dramatic reduction in poverty. In 1939, the official unemployment rate was still 17 percent and only forty-six million Americans were employed. By 1943, an additional eight million civilians were employed and another nine million citizens were serving in the military. As a result, homelessness virtually disappeared.

During the post-war economic boom, until 1973, most Americans experienced a substantial improvement in personal finances. During these years, President Kennedy's aphorism, "a rising tide lifts all boats," held true. From 1947 to 1973, inflation-adjusted gross domestic product, or real GDP, never declined in two back-to-back years. The official poverty rate declined from 22.2 percent in 1960 to its lowest level on record, 11.1 percent, in 1973. The official unemployment rate rose above 6 percent only twice. The nation's real total net wealth tripled, as did real total after-tax personal income. Real incomes of low-, middle-, and upper-income households increased steadily. During the post-war years prior to 1973, the concentration of wealth owned by the top 1 percent held steady at about 32 percent - the level established during the Depression.

F. 1973: The Squeeze Begins

On October 17, 1973, during the Israeli-Egyptian War, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stopped shipping oil to nations that supported Israel and, after the war, quadrupled oil prices world-wide. This price hike triggered massive global inflation and a prolonged economic recession. Real GDP in the United States declined in both 1974 and 1975. For the first time since 1946, total net worth adjusted for inflation declined for two consecutive years, as stock prices fell sharply and total financial wealth dropped by 20 percent. Disposable income fell in 1974 and leveled off in 1975. The official poverty rate jumped by more than 10 percent. The wealthy suffered the greatest percentage losses: the share of total net wealth held by the top 1 percent fell dramatically from around 30 percent in the late 1940s to about 20 percent in the early 1970s

But the economy quickly recovered from the shock triggered by OPEC's increase in oil prices and once again the rich and the super-rich flourished. From 1975 to 1995, adjusted for inflation:

According to "trickle-down economics," this growth was supposed to benefit everyone. But as Michael Lind wrote in 1995, for ordinary Americans "there has hardly been a drip." Hard times hit middle-class and the already-poor were driven deeper into a virtual Depression. According to Census Bureau reports, from 1973 to 1993, average household income (adjusted for inflation) declined by 5.1 percent for the bottom fifth, by 3.3 percent for the second fifth, and 1.6 percent for the next fifth.

Further data on this trend is provided by the Congressional Budget Office, which analyzed tax returns from 1977 to 1992. During those years, most Americans experienced either no gain or a decline in their real income. The following table details the percentage change in after-tax income for low- and middle-income groups.


Income Group Percent Change

Lowest 20% -17

Second 20% -7

Third 20% +1

Fourth 20% +6

Fifth 20% +28

Top 1% +91

A major reason for this decline in living standards among low- and middle-income households has been the steady fall in inflation-adjusted wages since 1973. In terms of 1982 dollars, average hourly earnings for all private-sector employees peaked in 1973 at $8.55 per hour. By 1993, that average had fallen about 15 percent to $7.39, its level of the mid-1960s.

For the first time ever, median wages of American men fell for more than twenty consecutive years. In early 1994, 18 percent of full-time workers were not earning enough money to keep their families out of official poverty, compared to 12 percent in 1979.

From 1973 to 1996, the real median earnings of men working full-time, year-round declined by more than 15 percent, or about $5,000 in 1996 dollars. The earnings of similar women increased by almost 15 percent, or almost $3,000. From 1993 to 1996, men's earnings declined each year and women's held steady, with a 2.4 percent gain from 1995 to 1996. Those households whose incomes managed to stay ahead of inflation did so primarily because wives worked longer hours.

From 1973 until 1995, weekly wages at the lower end of the pay scale fell by 22 percent. Middle-range wages decreased by 10 percent. But upper-scale wages increased by 10 percent. From 1995 to 1997, this trend persisted, though at a diminished rate.

As of January 1998, after several years of steady economic growth, average hourly wages were still stagnant, having outpaced inflation by only 2.1 percent over the previous twelve months. At this level, workers had not even regained their 1988 wage, much less the high of 1973. This average wage, weak as it was, obscured the fact that many workers continued to fall behind inflation even during this period of relative prosperity. Higher-tier workers benefited the most, which distorted the average. The median wage for full-time workers increased much less than the average hourly wage and was only "roughly in line with the inflation rate," as reported by the Times. Anemic wage growth of this sort clearly leaves most workers vulnerable to losing ground to inflation when the next recession hits.

The increase in the number of working poor is due in part to the fact that the mandatory minimum wage has failed to keep pace with inflation. In 1975, full-time minimum-wage workers earned 97 percent of the official poverty line for a family of three; by 1993, that percentage had declined to 77 percent.

This decline in income has been aggravated by a corresponding increase in the number of people without health insurance, which has increased from 12.9 percent in 1987 to 15.3 percent in 1993.

Another reason for worsening fortunes among most Americans has been a dramatic increase in unemployment. From 1954 to 1973, the official unemployment rate averaged 5.0 percent, but from 1974 to 1993, the average was 7.0 percent. These numbers mean that at any one time during the latter 20-year period, almost three million more workers were actively looking for work than would have been the case if unemployment had averaged 5 percent as it had prior to 1974. Even after years of reducing their workforces, in late 1994 more corporations than ever reported plans to "downsize."

The decline in personal income among ordinary Americans created many problems throughout the society. One consequence was an increase in the number of displaced homemakers - women who spent years as homemakers only to lose their husbands and their primary source of income. The number of displaced homemakers rose by four million between 1980 and 1990, according to Census Bureau data.

Another consequence was the massive increase in homelessness during this period. Other factors, such as the decline in the stock of low-income housing, contributed to the growth in homelessness. But the increase in unemployment and the decline in wages was surely a major reason. As skilled workers moved down the wage ladder into lower-paying jobs, workers in those jobs were squeezed out of the labor force and onto the street.

Poverty and the threat of poverty spread throughout the society. The official poverty rate increased, with slight fluctuations, from its record-low of 11.4 percent in 1978 to 13.6 percent in 1997. The Clinton/Greenspan period of growth failed to reduce the official poverty rate substantially. From 1995 to 1996, the number of "very poor" people living in households with less than half the official poverty threshold increased by 500,000 and the poorest 20 percent suffered a 1.8 percent drop in personal income. In 1995, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, requests for emergency shelter increased by an average of 11 percent in twenty-nine cities surveyed, and 19 percent of those requests went unmet.

Younger adults, who generally are more vulnerable to declining wages and growing unemployment, suffered most severely. Whereas the official poverty rate among all families increased by one-third from 1978 to 1993, the rate among families whose householder was 15-24 years old more than doubled and those with householders 25-34 increased 70 percent. According to a 1997 report by the Children's Defense Fund, married parents under age 30 faced a 33 percent decline in their median income from 1973 to 1994. In addition, the poverty rate for children in these young families more than doubled, leaving two out of every five of these children (41 percent) living below the official poverty line.

The official poverty rate of persons 65 and over declined somewhat from 14 percent to 12 percent from 1978 to 1994.

The condition of children also worsened. The official poverty rate of all persons under 18 years of age increased during these years from 16 percent to 23 percent. This astounding statistic - one-fourth of the nation's children living in poverty as officially defined - means that about half of all children actually live in poverty, as defined here.

Not only did the number of officially poor people increase; the severity of their poverty, as measured by how far their incomes fell below the official poverty line, also worsened. For families, the average income deficit, in 1993 dollars, increased from $5,250 to $5,960 and the median deficit increased from $4,275 to $5,350. Unrelated individuals suffered a similar increase in their income deficit. The percentage of people with incomes below 50 percent of the official poverty level almost doubled.

Worsening economic conditions also meant that more full-time year-round workers were officially poor. The percent of all officially poor adults falling into this category increased from 7.7 percent in 1978 to 9.7 percent in 1993, as their total number doubled to 2.4 million.

G. The Rich Get Richer

The hard times suffered by most Americans did not extend to the upper crust, however. The elite bounced back quickly from the loss in wealth they endured in 1973 and 1974. As described be economist Lester C. Thurow:

No country without a revolution or a military defeat and subsequent occupation has ever experienced such a sharp shift in the distribution of earnings as America has in the last generation.... Never before have a majority of American workers suffered real wage reductions while the per capita domestic product was advancing.

According to the Census Bureau, from 1973 to 1993, average real household income grew by 6.1 percent for those in the 60-79 percentiles from the bottom, 21.4 percent for the top fifth, and 31.9 percent for the top 5 percent alone. The Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn reports that between 1983 and 1989, the wealthiest 20 percent took 99 percent of the total increase in wealth. The Congressional Budget Office reports the following changes for upper-income families from 1977 to 1992:


Income Group Percent Change

Fourth 20% +6

Fifth 20% +28

Top 1% +91

The fruits of two decades of economic expansion have thus primarily gone to the richest 1 percent. From 1983 to 1989, the top 1 percent received 62 percent of the wealth generated during that period; during the next three years, they did even better, taking 68 percent of the total. During the 1980s alone, with poverty and homelessness growing, the number of households with annual incomes above $500,000 increased tenfold. The combined salaries of those earning one million dollars or more a year increased 21 times. Supervisors' salaries rose substantially. Since the mid-1970s, those with incomes above $80,000 a year gained on inflation. From 1980 to 1993, the number of households with inflation-adjusted incomes above $100,000 doubled from 2.7 million to 5.6 million.

This boost in personal income enabled the top 1 percent to more than recover its share of wealth lost during the 1970s. Between 1982 and 1986, the number of millionaires doubled. From 1977 to 1992, the share of the nation's total wealth owned by the top 1 percent increased from 22 percent to 44 percent, at which point they owned half of all stocks and bonds. They own more net assets than the bottom 90 percent combined. On average, they own seven million dollars per household. All of these households were presumably at least millionaires, or close to it.

In 1990, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the top 1 percent, about one million families - all of whom received at least $340,000 for the year - received 12.6 percent of the nation's total after-tax income, compared to 7.3 percent in 1977. This increase in their share of the total was worth an average of $165,000 per family in 1990. This shift in income meant that, combined, the top 1 percent received a total of $170 billion more in 1990 than they would have if they had only taken 7.3 percent of the total as they did in 1977. About $50 billion of this increase in personal income resulted from lower federal tax rates. As reported by The Washington Post, "According to the CBO, these one mil-lion families enjoyed 72 percent of the entire country's inflation-adjusted income gains between 1977 and 1999."

The Clinton Era perpetuated these trends. By 1996, the top 20 percent on the income scale claimed a record high 49 percent of total personal income.

During this period, the richer you were, the better you did. As the widely-respected economist Paul Krugman summed it up:

It's not just that the top 20 percent have gotten richer compared with the rest. The top 5 percent have gotten richer compared with the next 15 percent; the top 1 percent have gotten richer compared with the next 4 percent, and there is pretty good evidence that the top .25 percent has gotten richer compared with the next .75 percent.

The recovery in the fortunes of the wealthy should not be surprising. Throughout the history of this country, despite occasional downturns and one Depression, the wealthy elite has managed to steadily expand its wealth. Since 1890, the nation's economy has grown at an annual rate of 3.2 percent. During certain periods, the growth rate has been somewhat higher or lower, and it fell dramatically during the Depression. But overall, for more than 100 years, the average rate of growth has been 3.2 percent.

Despite growing global competition in recent years, the economy has managed to maintain this average rate of growth since 1970, including the trauma of 1974 and 1975. Similar patterns of steady growth are reflected in measures such as total personal income and total net wealth, adjusted for both inflation and population growth. Although great attention is given to relatively minor, brief fluctuations in the economy, commonly called "recession" and "prosperity," the economy as a whole, over time, plows ahead, producing more and more wealth.

What really matters - who is benefiting from the economy - is typically missed in media coverage that deals instead with these small upturns and downturns in the economy. Though these changes may qualify as "news" in the sense of being "new," they hardly matter to those in poverty or at the edge of poverty. The numbers routinely reported by the media are totals for the nation as a whole. But growth in the total economy and in average personal income don't mean anything for most Americans if the wealthy receive the benefits of that growth, as has been the case since the mid-1970s. Corporations have reduced wages while workers have become increasingly productive, enabling corporate profits as a share of national income to grow from 6 to 10 percent from 1982 to 1995. This transfer of money from workers to corporations has enabled executive salaries to skyrocket.

Politicians and the media have boasted of economic growth during the last twenty years, while most people in this country have experienced increasing hardship. The official poverty rate, for example, has increased to above 14 percent in the early 1990s after averaging 11.5 percent in the mid-1970s. This increase means that at any one time some seven million more people were extremely poor than would have been the case at mid-1970s rates. Economic growth that does not "lift all boats" means little to those who are left behind.

Not surprisingly, the middle-class has shrunk. From 1989 to 1994, average household income for the middle fifth of the population fell more than 6 percent, as working people had to work longer hours and hold down more jobs per household to avoid further losses. The median household income managed to creep up slightly from 1993 to 1996, gaining about $400 on inflation in 1996 compared to 1995. But middle-income households continued to receive a steadily smaller share of the nation's total income.

In mid-1995, Professors Greg J. Duncan of Northwestern University and Timothy Smeeding of Syracuse released a report demonstrating that during the 1980s and early 1990s, more of the shrinking middle-class became officially poor than became wealthy. And the poor have found it increasingly difficult to escape indigence. The Duncan/Smeeding study also found that income mobility among the poor declined. The percentage of officially poor people who moved into the middle class declined from 35.5% before 1979 to 30.4 percent after 1979. From 1967 to 1979, 60 percent of men turning thirty had middle-class incomes, compared to only 42 percent in the period from 1980 to 1991, as the ability of young men to lift themselves out of poverty as they mature diminished.

As of 1996, there was little sign of any change in this pattern, though the media continued to highlight reports about total economic growth. The Clinton Administration expressed great satisfaction with a slight increase in total economic output and aimed only for economic growth close to the historic average of 3.2 percent. At the same time, average wages continued to fall and increasing numbers of workers were forced to settle for part-time jobs.

"Income mobility" - poverty within families over time - presents another perspective on the same phenomenon. Despite rags-to-riches stories that assume mythological importance, relatively few people who are born into poor families ever become affluent. A child whose father is in the bottom 5 percent has only one chance in twenty of moving into the top 20 percent. The same child has a two-in-five chance of remaining stuck in what the government defines as poor or near poor and only a one-in-four chance of rising above the median (the line that separates the top half from the bottom half). Most of those who rise out of poverty remain close to the poverty line. With average wages continuing to fall behind inflation, it is becoming increasingly difficult for those born into poverty to lift themselves out of poverty with hard work.

At the same time, the wealthy are becoming more likely to remain rich over time and to pass their wealth on to their children. The son of a father with an income in the 95th percentile has a 42 percent chance of being in the top 20 percent and virtually no chance of being in the bottom 20 percent.

This history of poverty presents a picture of persistent hardship among a third or more of the total population. Poverty steadily worsened from the birth of the nation until World War II as the rich became richer, and declined thereafter until the mid-1970s as the concentration of wealth declined. Since then, both trends have reversed; wealth has become more concentrated and poverty has worsened.

The persistence of poverty in the midst of affluence leads one to question why such suffering is permitted. Some people dismiss this concern with comments like "the poor will always be with us," as if there were some natural law that dictates the perpetuation of poverty. A closer look, relying on common sense and elementary logic, reveals political forces at work below the surface. The better we understand these forces, the better we will be able to overcome them and guarantee economic security for all. The next chapter aims to contribute to this understanding.

Sources for this chapter included the following, in order of appearance.
For more specific references, contact Wade Hudson at

"Property," "Manorialism," Feudalism," Grolier's Academic American Encyclopedia, Compuserve on-line edition, Grolier Electronic Publishing, 1993.

Angie Debo, A History of the Indians of the United States, University of Oklahoma Press, 14.

Howard Zinn, Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology, HarperCollins, 32-46.

Debo, A History of the Indians of the United States, 15.

Ibid., 15.

Alan Axelrod and Charles Philips, What Every American Should Know About American History, Bob Adams, Inc., 17.

Ibid., 22.

Hugh Brogan, The Penguin History of the United States of America, Penguin Books, 18-9.

Axelrod and Philips, What Every American Should Know About American History, 23.

Brogan, The Penguin History of the United States of America, 19.

Ibid., 22.

Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, Harper & Row, 39-58.

Ibid., 39-58.

Ibid., 39-58.

Bernard Bailyn, The Peopling of North America, University of Wisconsin, 67.

Zinn, A People's History of the United States, 39-58.

Bailyn, The Peopling of North America, 55-6.

Michael B. Katz, In the Shadow of the Poorhouse, Basic Books, 4.

Brogan, The Penguin History of the United States of America, 103.

"British Colonies in North America," Grolier's Academic American Encyclopedia, Compuserve on-line edition, Grolier Electronic Publishing, 1993.

The Almshouse Experience, 4-7.

Ibid., 941-3.

Katz, In the Shadow of the Poorhouse, 4-8.

Jim Schwab, "Green Justice," The Nation, 2/14/94, 208.

Axelrod and Philips, What Every American Should Know About American History, 97.

Katz, In the Shadow of the Poorhouse, 6.

Ibid., 7.

The Almshouse Experience, 952.

Katz, In the Shadow of the Poorhouse, 8-9.

Jacqueline Jones, The Dispossessed: America's Underclass from the Civil War to the Present, Basic Books, 13-167.

Richard Grossman and Ward Morehouse, "Minorities, the Poor and Ending Corporate Rule," Poverty and Race, Poverty and Race Research Action Council, September/October 1995, 1/2.

Zinn, A People's History of the United States, 373.

U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1990, Table 74; U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1994, Table 84.

George J. Church, "Recovery for Whom?", Time, April 25, 1994, 30.

Axelrod and Philips, What Every American Should Know About American History, 351.

Economic Report to the President: 1994, Table B-113.

Edward N. Wolff, Top Heavy: A Study of the Increasing Inequality of Wealth in America, The Twentieth Century Fund Press, 8.

Michael Lind, "Smothering Oaks," The New Republic, 21 & 28 August 1995, 6.

Richard May, 1993 Income Poverty and Income Trends, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 1995, 65.

Isaac Shapiro, "Unequal Shares: Recent Income Trends Among the Wealthy," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 22 November 1995, 3.

May, 1993 Income Poverty and Income Trends, 88.

Lester C. Thurow, "Companies Merge; Families Break Up," The New York Times, 3 September 1995, 11.

"U.S. Minimum Wage May Be Raised," United Press, Compuserve on-line edition, 1 April 1994.

Paul Taylor, "Running Faster, Losing Ground," Washington Post National Weekly Edition, January 27-February 2, 1992, 37.

May, 1993 Income Poverty and Income Trends, 91.

Economic Report of the President: 1994, Table B-40.

Jonathan Marshall, "'Downsizing' Trend Grinds On," San Francisco Chronicle, 27 September 1994, B1.

May, 1993 Income Poverty and Income Trends, 11.

Ibid., 19.

Ibid., 27.

Ibid., 21.

Ibid., 41.

Ibid., 45.

Ibid., 77.

Lester C. Thurow, "Companies Merge; Families Break Up," The New York Times, 3 September 1995, 11.

May, 1993 Income Poverty and Income Trends, 77.

Alexander Cockburn, "Beat The Devil," The Nation, 8/15 January 1996, 10.

Ibid., 10.

Jack Beatty, "The Middle Class Crisis," San Francisco Chronicle, This World, 29 May 1994, 6-9.

Steven Pearlstein, "A Little Something Extra Hasn't Shown Up in Our Paychecks," Washington Post National Weekly Edition, September 5-11, 1994, 20.

Louis Uchitelle<, "Wage Stagnation Is Seen as a Major Issue in the 1996 Election Campaign," The New York Times, 13 August 1995, 11.

David Frum, "Welcome Nouveaux Riches," The New York Times, 14 August 1995, A11.

Michael Lind, "Smothering Oaks," The New Republic, 21 & 28 August 1995, 6.

Steven Pearlstein, "Winners and Losers," The Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 12-18 June, 1995, 7.

Paul Krugman, "The Wealth Gap Is Real and It's Growing," The New York Times, 21 August 1995, A15.

Stephen Rose, The American Profile Poster Book, Penguin Books, 32.

Economic Report of the President: 1994, Table B-2.

Kenneth N. Gilpin, "Workers Are Expected to Push for More of the Economic Pie," The New York Times, 2 January 1995, C20.

"Only High-Income Households Have Recovered Fully From the Recession," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October 24, 1995.

Michael Janofsky, "Welfare Cuts Raise Fears For Mayors," The New York Times, 30 July 1996, A10.

Keith Bradsher, "America's Opportunity Gap," The New York Times, 4 June 1995, The Week in Review, 4.

Sylvia Nasar, "Those Born Wealthy or Poor Usually Stay So, Studies Say," The New York Times, 18 May 1992, A1/C7.

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