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This Is America

Today, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. The problem has been addressed countless times since the nation’s founding, but it persists, and for the poorest among us, it gets worse. America has not been able to find its way to a sustainable solution, because most of its citizens see the problem of poverty from a distance, through a distorted lens. So in 2016 we presented "Busted: America's Poverty Myths," a series exploring how our understanding of poverty is shaped not by facts, but by private presumptions, media narratives, and the tales of the American Dream. This week we're revisiting part of that series. 

1. Matthew Desmond [@just_shelter], author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American Cityon the myriad factors that perpetuate wealth inequality and Jack Frech [@FrechJack], former Athens County Ohio Welfare Director, on how the media's short attention span for inequality coverage stymies our discourse around poverty. Listen.

2. Jill Lepore, historian and staff writer for the New Yorker, on the long history of America's beloved "rag to riches" narrative and Natasha Boyer, a Ohio woman whose eviction was initially prevented thanks to a generous surprise from strangers, on the reality of living in poverty and the limitations of "random acts of kindness." Listen.

3. Brooke considers the myth of meritocracy and how it obscures the reality: that one's economic success is more due to luck than motivation. Listen.

“Busted: America’s Poverty Myths” is produced by Meara Sharma and Eve Claxton, with special thanks to Nina Chaudry. This series is produced in collaboration with WNET in New York as part of “Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America.” Major funding for “Chasing the Dream” is provided by the JPB Foundation, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation.

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