Cover: The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty, from Harvard University PressCover: The Land of Too Much in HARDCOVER

The Land of Too Much

American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty

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$51.00 • £44.95 • €46.95

ISBN 9780674066526

Publication Date: 12/31/2012


344 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

2 line illustrations, 11 graphs, 7 tables


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As one of the world’s super-rich countries, the poverty rate of the USA has remained stubbornly high for half a century, resulting in an intriguing paradox between the coexistence of American wealth and poverty. Prasad provides much needed insight into this troubling contradiction.—Xueli Huang, Social Justice Research

Why is there more poverty in the U.S. than in similarly developed nations, notably in Europe? The conventional wisdom holds that the U.S. is less redistributionist due to the strong hold of laissez-faire ideology. In this interesting book, Prasad debunks conventional wisdom… A timely, accessible work on an important topic.—R. S. Rycroft, Choice

This engrossing book provides an arresting answer to the questions of why America’s welfare state is so weak and why so many Americans live in poverty. Prasad forges an elegant argument using both historical and cross-national evidence to show that countries chose between two strategies for managing income distribution, welfare programs and consumer credit. By the 1940s the U.S. had chosen consumer credit, and has since been using ‘mortgage Keynesianism,’ which does nothing for the truly poor and invites economic volatility. A startling and ultimately convincing contribution to the most important debate of our times.—Frank Dobbin, Harvard University

Prasad offers a dramatically new explanation for the weak U.S. welfare state and shows that the conventional wisdom in academic, popular, and journalistic circles—that the U.S. is a liberal, less interventionist state than those in Europe—is wrong.—Richard Lachmann, University at Albany, State University of New York

This book is a brilliant addition to two divergent literatures: American political development and comparative political economy. Prasad sees credit as the basis of the American welfare state and its robust capitalist economy; but the essential scaffolding of the Credit Welfare State was the remarkable system of regulatory institutions constructed from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries. When regulation and progressive taxation were dismantled while credit continued to expand, the result was inequality and economic meltdown. Not understanding the vital interplay among taxation, credit expansion, and regulation, U.S. politicians did enormous damage to both democracy and the economy.—M. Elizabeth Sanders, Cornell University

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