The Poverty Industry

The Exploitation of America's Most Vulnerable Citizens

288 pages

7 figures

June, 2016

ISBN: 9781479874729



Add to Cart Available: 5/20/2016

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Daniel L. Hatcher is Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore.

All books by Daniel L. Hatcher

Government aid doesn’t always go where it’s supposed to. Foster care agencies team up with companies to take disability and survivor benefits from abused and neglected children. States and their revenue consultants use illusory schemes to siphon Medicaid funds intended for children and the poor into general state coffers. Child support payments for foster children and families on public assistance are converted into government revenue. And the poverty industry keeps expanding, leaving us with nursing homes and juvenile detention centers that sedate residents to reduce costs and maximize profit, local governments buying nursing homes to take the facilities’ federal aid while the elderly languish with poor care, and counties hiring companies to mine the poor for additional funds in modern day debtor’s prisons.
In The Poverty Industry, Daniel L. Hatcher shows us how state governments and their private industry partners are profiting from the social safety net, turning America’s most vulnerable populations into sources of revenue. The poverty industry is stealing billions in federal aid and other funds from impoverished families, abused and neglected children, and the disabled and elderly poor. As policy experts across the political spectrum debate how to best structure government assistance programs, a massive siphoning of the safety net is occurring behind the scenes.In the face of these abuses of power, Hatcher offers a road map for reforms to realign the practices of human service agencies with their intended purpose, to prevent the misuse of public taxpayer dollars, and to ensure that government aid truly gets to those in need. 


  • “Everyone today is skeptical of charitable organizations that spend too little of their money on charity. After reading this book, Americans are sure to become just as skeptical when state and local governments spend federal tax dollars. Hatcher’s tour-de-force spells out how federal government spending on services for the poor are being wasted. . . . No one who reads this book will ever feel the same about fiscal federalism. . . . Hatcher shows that a shocking amount of money is going to profit private businesses. Even worse, these businesses are teaching state and local governments how to scam the feds by taking money for one purpose and misusing it to help fill a hole in the state budget outside of the purposes for which the money is being given. An extremely important book.”

    —Martin Guggenheim, Fiorello LaGuardia Professor of Clinical Law, New York University

  • “In the tradition of great muckraking, Hatcher has exposed how states and localities have misdirected and misused public funds envisioned to benefit the most vulnerable among us. . . . Should be required reading for lawmakers and public officials, to remind them of their legal and moral responsibilities and to inspire them to stop these disturbing practices and direct these crucial resources to their rightful recipients.”

    —Jane M. Spinak, Edward Ross Aranow Clinical Professor of Law, Columbia University

  • "Hatcher exposes an urgent paradox at the heart of American governance: why, and how, are states and localities teaming up with corporations to squeeze profits from society’s poorest? The Poverty Industry breaks fresh ground. Every American who cares about the intersection of private profits and public justice should read this book, and wrestle with its arguments. Hatcher marshals years of legal experience and research towards fulfilling the muckraker’s calling: 'to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.' But he also goes a step further. In The Poverty Industry, he combines a practitioner’s depth with a journalist’s flair for storytelling, to generate the first complete account of a little-known phenomenon that should be of interest to every reader with a conscience."

    —Sarah Stillman, staff writer for the New Yorker