Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope Kindle ↠

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope If you re not outraged, you re not paying attention Heather Heyer, 2017 Pay attention, America That s what this book is telling us I may not agree with Kristof and WuDunn s politics and recommendations at times, but that does not change the fact that they have laid out harsh and painful truths in this book It is not a perfect book, and some people may be turned off by the authors obvious left leaning biases Why the 5 stars Because this is NECESSARY I feel privileged to have the chanIf you re not outraged, you re not paying attention Heather Heyer, 2017 Pay attention, America That s what this book is telling us I may not agree with Kristof and WuDunn s politics and recommendations at times, but that does not change the fact that they have laid out harsh and painful truths in this book It is not a perfect book, and some people may be turned off by the authors obvious left leaning biases Why the 5 stars Because this is NECESSARY I feel privileged to have the chance to read it.It talks about topics that we typically shy away from poverty, drug addiction, healthcare, lack of quality education, mass incarceration, the erosion of our society as a whole, and our failure as a nation through a history of poor policy making that has been continually anti poor and anti working class They further argue that yes, personal responsibility is a factor in an individual s outcomes in life, but that our failure to be empathetic, to see beyond invidual choices, and acknowledge that we as a society is also partly responsible for a person s future, further compounds social problems.It is very painful to read about past and present policy failures and how it has trickled down to America s poor, children in particular It is painful to know that here in America, millions still do not have access to quality healthcare, mental health counseling, and basic quality education It is evenpainful to know that research continually shows that only the top 1% has truly benefited from the economic boom but the rest at the bottom 90% has continually done worse And it seems like politicians, both from the left and right, have failed to listen and keep up with the times The book calls for drastic action if we are to remain the superpower that we claim to be.Regardless of your political views, every American should be involved in the conversation about how we can improve the quality of life in this country, investin human capital, and create fair opportunities for everyone At the end of the day, issues like jobs creation, access to quality healthcare, quality education, and drug policies will affect all of us in some way This is required reading for every American as far as I am concerned lawmakers, mentors, educators, businessmen, students, and ordinary people like me who care Kudos to Kristof and WuDunn for such engaging writing in terms that are easy to understand I wholeheartedly recommend this book If ever you wanted an upgrade in your ability empathize, and understand your fellow humans, or insight into how to be of better help, particularly in the United States, please read this book, and if you ve never thought you needed either of these things, perhaps it iscrucial that you read it I truly hope this wakes many Americans up to how we can better care for one another Grateful this was written. With stark poignancy and political dispassion, Tightrope draws us deep into an other America The authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the children with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon, an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue collar jobs disappeared About one quarter of the children on Kristof s old school bus died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents And while these particular stories unfolded in one corner of the country, they are representative of many places the authors write about, ranging from the Dakotas and Oklahoma to New York and Virginia But here too are stories about resurgence, among them Annette Dove, who has devoted her life to helping the teenagers of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as they navigate the chaotic reality of growing up poor Daniel McDowell, of Balti, whose tale of opioid addiction and recovery suggests that there are viable ways to solve our nation s drug epidemic Taken together, these accounts provide a picture of working class families needlessly but profoundly damaged as a result of decades of policy mistakes With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore I m a writer in the margins but I don t think I have EVER written in the marginsthan in this book arguments, agreements, questions.I picked this on a whim from BOTM, and I m glad I did I devoured it, despite its difficult subject matter The authors are fantastic storytellers which helps underline and illustrate their points.I disagree with the authors on a lot of their conclusions, but I found them balanced and thoughtful They made neither victims nor villains of their subjects There w I m a writer in the margins but I don t think I have EVER written in the marginsthan in this book arguments, agreements, questions.I picked this on a whim from BOTM, and I m glad I did I devoured it, despite its difficult subject matter The authors are fantastic storytellers which helps underline and illustrate their points.I disagree with the authors on a lot of their conclusions, but I found them balanced and thoughtful They made neither victims nor villains of their subjects There were times when I quibbled with the logic and language they often slipped into passive voice when contending that they insisted on personal responsibility or resorted to light ad hominem attacks, assigning motives without support and calling policy mean spirited when it s possible the other side just has a different perception of what s best long term, at times painted motives with broad strokes, attributing choices to luck and vice versa, and occasionally conflated correlation with causation without support , but overall, they leaned heavily on the bipartisan three pronged fact that people who finish high school, get a job, and marry before having children, in that order, have a literal 98% avoidance of poverty rate, along with all that entails.They stress the government component of education yes, but refreshingly don t ignore personal responsibility of work, and family responsibility of the roles of marriage, home, and children.Many times proposed solutions lean too hard to one side forgetting that government does have a role to play or to the other that people s choices and families are key in preventing problems that stem from and accompany poverty It s both, together Forget any one component and you re still likely fighting a losing battle.They offer plenty of solutions throughout the text, but one of the most useful parts of a Kristof WuDunn book is they leave readers at the end with ten steps you can take to make a difference Not every one will be applicable to every person, but I underlined about half that I can likely do one time actions like calling state representatives to petition for diversion programs for drug offenders, or repeat measures like volunteering at some of the most high impact initiatives I also appreciated that the vast majority of the suggestions did not involve the government As a conservative, I want government doing less, and individuals doing , especially at the local level Systems are made up of people, after all Government can t best fix what government didn t break.But in a partisan era, we need each other The authors quote Ray Dalio saying, The problem is that capitalists typically don t know how to divide the pie well and socialists typically don t know how to grow it well I want to hand this to every pastor, teacher, neighbor, veteran, doctor, politician, law enforcement officer, economist, parent I know My heart was moved, but just as importantly, my mind was moved This really does do a fantastic job of being bipartisan, but it does lean left, championing causes that are typically partisan in the US universal heath care, a child allowance, sex education in schools For another take on a middle ground work that leans slightly right, try Rod Dreher s Crunchy Cons Both these works together do much to inform what initiatives we can easily come together on This hits the nail absolutely on the head. This book was extremely eye opening It gave me a lot to think about with regards to poverty, drugs, obesity, etc in America I would highly recommend that everybody read this book before the next election. How do you successfully raise children in these troubled times A stable home environment seems to be a major factor, increasing the likelihood that they will graduate from high school, avoid drugs, stay employed, and keep out of trouble with the law Children who grow up in chaotic homes with drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and single parents who have trouble keeping jobs have vastly increased chances of ending up on a downward spiral of poverty, drugs, unemployment, and prison.This book look How do you successfully raise children in these troubled times A stable home environment seems to be a major factor, increasing the likelihood that they will graduate from high school, avoid drugs, stay employed, and keep out of trouble with the law Children who grow up in chaotic homes with drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and single parents who have trouble keeping jobs have vastly increased chances of ending up on a downward spiral of poverty, drugs, unemployment, and prison.This book looks at these factors using individual interviews, many of them with the people one of the authors grew up with in rural northwest Oregon After World War II the soldiers came home to good, steady jobs with benefits that allowed them to move into the middle class and become homeowners And then, starting in the 70s, it all began to unravel Manufacturing went overseas, factories closed, and jobs and the sense of self respect that went with them were lost Alcoholism and depression followed, and many families fell back into the lower classes.Some children from these damaged families absorbed the wrong lessons about life Completing high school had not helped their parents keep jobs, so many of them dropped out Without a high school diploma work, when they could find it, was often minimum wage dead end drudgery with no benefits, so alcohol and drugs eased the pain The authors repeatedly make the point that we all bear responsibility for our decisions, and no one forced these people to make the choices that derailed their lives They also note, however, that it is a lot easier to avoid those catastrophic decisions when children come from orderly, supportive two parent families.The book weaves its individual case studies around observations about social and economic policies, and the authors research is very though Unfortunately, at some point in the development process someone author, agent, or publisher made the decision that using standard footnotes would be a bad idea, probably thinking they would scare some readers away Instead, they use an annoying and inefficient method where their notes are not identified in the text, but may appear in the back of the book identified by text snippets followed by formal citations If a reader wants to see if something is the authors opinion or from a published study he or she would have to make note of the words around the observation, such as every seven minutes, then go to the back of the book and scan the citations to see if there is a note attached to this text There might in fact be one, but the authors chose different key words to lead into it It is confusing and wastes time, diminishing the reference value of the book.Despite the problem with its sources, Tightrope is insightful and clearly written, and the authors provide recommendations for dealing with the problems All of the solutions, however, require money and sustained commitment, both of which will be in short supply as long as the government s top priority is tax cuts for billionaires.There isthat I could say, but I will let the authors speak for themselves Following are some of the observations they made which I found insightful and often troubling every seven minutes, another American dies of a drug overdose, and one American child in eight is living with a parent with a substance use disorder p 20 of people who follow three traditional rules graduate from high school, get a full time job, and marry before having children only 2 percent live in poverty p 28 for every man aged twenty five to fifty four who counts as unemployed, threedon t have jobs but aren t looking for work p 37 almost half of prime age men not in the workforce take pain pills every day, and the majority say that they are disabled or otherwise unable to hold a job p 37 77 percent of kids in the top quartile of incomes graduate from college, compared to 9 percent of kids in the bottom quartile p 46 the broadest challenge in prevention is to recognize that addiction is a symptom of a deeper malaise and that a strategy also has to offer jobs, education, and hopedrug use is often not just a trip but also an escape from a place that has become unendurable p 97 since 1970, life expectancy has improved in the United States, but much less than in other countries From a bit above the middle of the pack, we ve tumbled to number 27 out of 35 OECD countries We re now behind Chile in life expectancy and just ahead of the Czech Republic and Turkey Life expectancy in the state of Mississippi, were it a country, would rank second to last, tied with Mexico Children in America are 55 percentlikely to die than kids in other affluent countries p 143 144 Members of Congress opposed to a public option don t seem to object to the government covering the cost of medical services for themselves in addition to receiving a 72 percent subsidy paid by taxpayers on premiums for a gold level Affordable Care Act plan, they can use the navy run Office of the Attending Physician and get free outpatient services at military facilities in the Washington area p 146 The reason we have a single payer health care system for the elderly Medicare but not for children is simple seniors vote, and children don t So while American children die at 55 percent higher rates than children in other advanced countries, Americans who make it to age sixty five and qualify for Medicare then have a remaining life expectancy similar to that of our peer countries p 147 We ve learnedin the last decade about how to solve housing problems It s tricky to address only locally, however, because a community that provides good services tends to attract homeless people from other areas that ignore the problem So, nationwide or statewide strategies areeffective p 160 the federal government has poured huge sums into mobile home parks for low income renters, yet the money went not to the renters but to private equity firms Fannie Mae, the government sponsored lender, provided 1.3 billion to Stockbridge Capital, a huge private equity firm, to buy existing parks and Stockbridge then raised rents to achieve a 30 percent return p 161 The American military performs an indispensable role in creating opportunity for working class kids It is particularly good at building discipline and teamwork, at inculcating basic social skills and technical training and especially at creating career paths without discrimination for African Americans and Latinos It invests in the human capital of young people, with an emphasis on learning, management and leadership p 169 private prisons lobby for harsher sentences to increase their occupancy rates and improve their profitability The two largest for profit prison companies have devoted 25 million to lobbying p 175 America should remember Dostoyevsky s observation The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons p 176 The United States Sentencing Commission found that blacks get sentences 19 percent longer than whites do for the same offense, even after controlling for criminal history and other variables The darker an African American s complexion, the longer the sentence, researchers found Blacks are alsolikely to be found guilty and sentenced to death in Louisiana, a black person is 97 percentlikely to receive the death penalty than a white person p 178 The economist Isabel Sawhill calculates that the rise in single parenting since 1970 has increased the child poverty rate by 25 percent Growing up with just one biological parent on average is also associated with a 40 percent lower chance that a child will graduate from high school p 188 Three quarters of married parents are still together when their child turns twelve fewer than one third of unmarried couples are p 189 when children are born in the bottom wealth quintile to parents who stay married throughout their childhood, they do well only 17 percent remain at the bottom, while 19 percent achieve the top wealth quintile in adulthood But for kids born in the bottom quintile to parents who never marry, 50 percent remain at the bottom as adults, and only 5 percent rise to the top quintile p 191 Foster care costs about 26,000 per child per year, yet outcomes tend to be poor only 58 percent graduate from high school One quarter are incarcerated within two years of graduating from foster care at age eighteen, and they are about six timeslikely to end up homeless as to end up with a college degree p 193 More children die each year in the United States from abuse and neglect than from cancer For every child who dies, thousands are injured, raped or brutally abused We shrug as millions of children undergo trauma in ways that harm them and unravel our social fabric and then we blame the kinds when things go wrong Some species eat their young it turns out that we are one of them p 204 One of the most infuriating elements of American myopia about investing in at risk kids is that politicians often insist that they don t have the funds to pay for social services but they somehow find the resources to pay for prisons later on Republican lawmakers don t want to pay for 500 IUDs for low income women, so they pay 17,000 for Medicaid births p 205 The United States has about 13 million children living in poverty Of those, about 2 million may live in extreme poverty by global definitions in households earning less than 2 per person per day , when looking at their cash incomes These kids would be considered extremely poor if they lived in Congo or Bangladesh, yet they re here in the United States We don t want to overstate the comparison Congolese kids can t typically access food stamps, hospital emergency rooms or church pantries and soup kitchens but it is still staggering that by formal definitions some American children count as extremely poor even by Bangladeshi standards p 213 The presence of extremely poor children in Americais partly a consequence of the 1993 welfare reform that eventually cut off benefits for some families it was meant to hit deadbeat adults but has been devastating for their children as well p 214 the United States for years was, embarrassingly, the only country in the world besides Somalia and South Sudan that had not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child That has now changed the United States is the only nation that hasn t bothered to ratify it p 214 America doesn t pay enough attention to the fact that even now, about 14 percent of Americans don t complete high school Those kids are typically destined to hold marginal jobs, endure difficult lives and die early p 232 today Americans arelikely to drop out of high school than in most other advanced countries, and completion of high school doesn t necessarily signal mastery of basic skills About one fourth of those who graduate from high school cannot pass the American military s qualifying exam p 232 This book landed itself in my DNF pile at page 81 at halfway down the page I do not feel this book is about Americans reaching for hope at all This book is written by 2 authors who are wanting the US government to coddle and hand out hope to those less fortunate.Possible indirect spoilers I overlooked the sly remarks blaming President Trump Co Authors were discussing and placing blame of the demise starting in the 60s and 70s It is ok to not like Trump and this did not affect my rating This book landed itself in my DNF pile at page 81 at halfway down the page I do not feel this book is about Americans reaching for hope at all This book is written by 2 authors who are wanting the US government to coddle and hand out hope to those less fortunate.Possible indirect spoilers I overlooked the sly remarks blaming President Trump Co Authors were discussing and placing blame of the demise starting in the 60s and 70s It is ok to not like Trump and this did not affect my rating but the blaming did How can he be responsible for or even have a hand in the pot if the problem happened prior to 2016 In one part about welfare and needing a computer but those poor people cant afford them and internet so how could they possibly get what is owed to them from the government This annoyed me too because every public library, school, ect has free internet access with computers.Now to page 81 where it was just over for me a heroin addict is not to blame, its the system All further reading of this book ceased then and there A comprehensive book covering many of the issues confronting Americans homelessness, inequality, drug addiction, poverty, limited education and access to health care andKristof and WuDunn write in an approachable, empathetic manner, personalizing these topics with stories One of the problems I have with some non fiction books is they are sometimes padded magazine articles that are too repetitive That was not a problem here But it also didn t feel condensed I like the authors point th A comprehensive book covering many of the issues confronting Americans homelessness, inequality, drug addiction, poverty, limited education and access to health care andKristof and WuDunn write in an approachable, empathetic manner, personalizing these topics with stories One of the problems I have with some non fiction books is they are sometimes padded magazine articles that are too repetitive That was not a problem here But it also didn t feel condensed I like the authors point that looking at poverty and drugs through the lense of personal irresponsibility is not helpful There is choice involved but often it is in the lopsided policies the U.S has chosen When I saw this book on BOTM, I prepared to bore myself with a textbook like analysis of the state of America today I was presently surprised at how personal the author made the book to his hometown and life, by delving into specific family members and friends I found this to be a quick read, with well thought out scenarios and extensive research.


About the Author: Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas Donabet Kristof is an American journalist, author, op ed columnist, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes He has written an op ed column for The New York Times since November 2001 and is widely known for bringing to light human rights abuses in Asia and Africa, such as human trafficking and the Darfur conflict He has lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to 150 countries and all 50 states According to his blog, during his travels he has had unpleasant experiences with malaria, wars, an Indonesian mob carrying heads on pikes, and an African airplane crash.


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