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This book dives into the lives of eight everyday Americans who face extreme poverty in Milwaukee.
Desmond witnessed first-hand or learned about events while conducting research for the book and discusses them. Desmond does an unbelievable job of allowing the people in the book to share their lives from their point of view. The book is mainly based between 2008-2009.
While reading this book a person may question the way the American economy is built. This book takes a person into the minds of those who are battling extreme poverty and paints a vivid picture of their fight.
It is extremely difficult to break the cycle of poverty and the American society does not make it any easier with the unfathomable cost of education, minimum wage, and extreme cost of housing. A person can hardly survive on minimum wage pay not to mention feed a whole family. Is it ethical to give the top 1% of Americans nearly 40% of the wealth while the rest of Americans are fighting for scraps? Although a person may think this statistic is shocking and the wealth inequality gap must be decreasing the person is dead wrong.
The wealth gap is the highest it has been in 50 years. Believe it or not why would the rich want to decrease the amount of people in poverty? The rich are able to make money off of the poor. Evicted shows how this is possible through the housing market.
Evicted allows a person to view poverty through the lens of eight people fighting extreme poverty in Milwaukee. Arleen, one of the main characters in Evicted paid 88% of her $628 per month welfare check in rent. That leaves Arlene with $75.36 left to spend for the entire month for clothes, food, transportation, and other necessities. Arleen has two kids to take care of as well. It is challenging for a person on welfare to afford necessities not to mention save money in order to break the poverty cycle. In the eyes of a business ethics guide this does not follow distributive justice because the poor have significantly more burdens than most.
Is Sherrena, a landlord who mainly rents to people in poverty, an ethical person? Sherrena will evict people who can’t pay onto the streets and treats this as strictly a business not a way to help the less fortunate. Sherrena charges people such as Lamar, a disabled Veteran, 88% of their monthly income in rent. How does she expect somebody like Lamar to survive with 12% of their income for the remainder of the month? If Lamar refuses to pay these outrageous prices he will be evicted. People facing poverty have no leverage and must take what they can get. They do not have the luxury to complain. Unfortunately, this allows landlords to operate crime filled trailer parks. Evicted discusses a trailer park that had 70 code violations and 260 police calls.
Before a tenant is evicted the individual will go to civil court and unlike criminal court a lawyer is not provided for a person. This is problematic because 90% of tenants do not have a lawyer while 90% of landlords do have a lawyer. Obviously, this stacks the deck in the landlords favor and they normally win these cases. Segregation in Milwaukee is extremely prominent. On average, 75% of the people in Milwaukee’s eviction court are African American and of those people 75% are women. This statistic outlines the reason why Milwaukee is called “The most segregated city in America” by people around the country. Unfortunately for women, it is even harder for them to break the poverty cycle due to the inequality they face.
My views of the business world have been adjusted throughout this business ethics course. My eyes have been opened to extreme inequality in all aspects of life. Evicted has made me see the biggest challenge in overcoming poverty is the high cost of housing. It is unjust how landlords’ prey on the less fortunate in order to make money. Since 1970 the number of people employed as property managers has quadrupled. A theory this statistic is true is housing is a necessity and no matter how much it costs a person will still pay for it. In 1990 the black poverty rate had climbed to 42% and Milwaukee earned the name “the epicenter of anti-welfare crusade”. In 1967 New York Times editorial declared Milwaukee “America’s most segregated city.” Milwaukee has been known around the country for their dauntingly high poverty rate as well as their extreme segregation for many years. A large percentage of people in Milwaukee have relied on welfare in order to survive. After reading and learning about the staggering inequality in America my views of the business world have been changed.
The society created in Milwaukee stacks the cards against the people in poverty and stacks the cards in the favor of the wealthy. The society in Milwaukee does not use distributive justice. Distributive justice creates equal benefits and burdens for all. The poor have significantly more burdens while the rich have significantly more benefits. Utilitarianism asks the question “is it good for society”? In Milwaukee, the majority of people are facing poverty while a few are being bathed in wealth. Utilitarianism is not being used in Milwaukee because the system in place does not help the majority of society.
In Encyclical of Popleo Leo XIII On Capital and Labor it expresses the idea that “For, every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own”. In today’s society there are a number of homeless people that are not fortunate enough to have their own property. This connects to Evicted because the less fortunate struggle to obtain their own property.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City does an incredible job of capturing the lives of people facing extreme poverty in Milwaukee. Evicted discusses the unfathomable cost of education, minimum wage, and extreme cost of housing. This book ties directly into our business ethics class and the readings we have covered such as Encyclical of Popleo Leo XIII On Capital and Labor. After reading this book, although a person may not be sure how to fix the problem, the individual will recognize there is a problem.Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.
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