How to Combat Poverty: Lessons from History

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A child sits on a stoop in a working class section of Utica on May 14, 2012 in Utica, New York. The city's individual poverty rate is twice the national average with an unemployment rate of 9.8%.
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Last week, President Barack Obama dusted off his populist message in an address about income inequality at the Center for American Progress.

There is "a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead," the president said. "I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: Making sure our economy works for every working American."

As the president and Congress debate the minimum wage and the efficacy of food stamps, a new book by Dr. Mical Raz challenges the underpinnings of our understanding of poverty and how best to combat it.

In "What's Wrong with the Poor?: Psychiatry, Race and the War on Poverty," Dr. Raz examines our current approach to combating poverty, which began with President Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1964. 

While many of Johnson's Great Society programs are still around today—including Head Start, Medicare and Medicaid—Raz argues that the theory of deprivation—which drove the Johnson Administration's approach to policy-making—led policy-makers to ignore structural inequality.

As she tells Takeaway host John Hockenberry, many of our anti-poverty programs continue to do so today.