‘Books, for Spector, were the “deathless weapons of progress” by which prisoners could be “paroled into the custody of their better selves … by feeding on hallowed thoughts.” And, “The hermitage of a small, dank cell,” Spector wrote, “if provided with books, can yield a rich harvest of sheer delight and practical values.”’
To figure out which theory is true, the easiest thing to do is answer the question: are impoverished people the same people every year or different ones? The individual theory predicts that they are the same people (and further that they need paternalist intervention to get their act together). The structural theory predicts that they are different people (and further that we need to alter the economic structure to make things better).
As all of the commentators linked above mentioned, longitudinal surveys show that impoverished people are not the same people every year. The last SIPP (three-year longitudinal survey done by the Census) had around one-third of Americans finding themselves in episodic poverty at some point in the three years, but just 3.5% finding themselves in episodic poverty for all three years. The PSID data show that around 4 in 10 adults experience an entire year of poverty between age 25 and 60. If you count kids, the number of people who experience at least one year of poverty rockets even higher of course.
Makers of the London double decker bus prove that they weren’t a tipping hazard (1933). (via Twitter / HistorySlide: Makers of the London double …)