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Dean Graham and Professor Seefeldt Author New Book on Poverty

John GrahamThe hard times are about to get worse. That’s the conclusion political commentator, broadcaster and SPEA alumnus Tavis Smiley reached after reading the soon-to-be-published book “America’s Poor” written by Dean John D. Graham and Assistant Professor Kristin Seefeldt.

The book, from Indiana University Press, will analyze the impact of the Great Recession on people in or near poverty and offers bipartisan solutions. It is scheduled for publication late this year.

“What Dean Graham and Professor Seefeldt have done in their analysis is to unflinchingly examine how this ‘jobless recovery’ affects the swelling ranks of the poor,” Smiley writes in a foreword to the book. He predicts for Americans living in poverty, 50 million and growing, “the hard times are about to get worse.”

There are too few new jobs and long-term unemployment compounds the misery of those without work. Additionally, those earning minimum wage will see their buying power diminish as the economy improves and the potential for inflation returns. The bleak conclusions are “informative and illuminating,” Smiley writes, “but also atrocious and appalling.”

Image of Kristin SeefeldtThe book by Graham and Seefeldt (who has accepted a position at the University of Michigan) grew out of a lengthy white paper on poverty they wrote for Smiley and Princeton University Professor Cornel West. Smiley (B.A. public affairs ’03) and West used that white paper as an intellectual underpinning for what they called their “Poverty Tour”, a cross-country series of appearances aimed at drawing attention to the nation’s impoverished during the presidential primary season.

With its publication coming as the nation prepares to inaugurate a president, the book’s jarring information about the extent of poverty will capture plenty of attention. Of equal importance is a roadmap to address the crisis that Graham and Seefeldt lay out for the election winners at the White House and on Capitol Hill. Tavis Smiley would no doubt be pleased if his prediction that the hard times are about to get worse proves wrong.