cover image Poverty for Profit: How Corporations Get Rich Off America’s Poor

Poverty for Profit: How Corporations Get Rich Off America’s Poor

Anne Kim. New Press, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-62097-781-1

Corporations are taking advantage of sclerotic government to skim money off anti-poverty initiatives, according to this stinging exposé. Lawyer and journalist Kim (Abandoned) probes a raft of ill-designed and poorly supervised federal and state programs that are run or mediated by private businesses that jack up prices and deliver substandard services. They include tax preparers that charge low-income taxpayers exorbitant fees to calculate the tax credits they are due, private prisons that charge inmates hundreds of dollars per day for their accommodations, slumlords who make a mint off of low-income housing vouchers, food service companies that sell junk food to kids in school cafeterias, and dental clinic franchises that squeeze profits out of Medicaid reimbursements by subjecting poor kids to painful and unnecessary treatments. (Kim spotlights one three-year-old who was subjected to 17 root canals and caps on his baby teeth.) Kim finds plenty of culprits to blame beyond the sleazy corporations: conservatives who insist that business does everything better than government, politicians on the right and the left who cut sweetheart deals with capitalist cronies, a Congress that lurches from one ungainly social-service scheme to the next. Kim’s writing is sharp-eyed and two-fisted—“The goal should be to expunge the parasitic industries dragging down U.S. antipoverty efforts”—as she untangles these knots of incompetence and fraud. It’s an electrifying unmasking of appalling violations of public trust. (May)