Clip of the Month: Extreme Poverty & the U.S. Government with Philip Alston

January 25, 2018

NYU Law Professor Philip Alston is the special rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights for the United Nations. Recently, he spent two weeks traveling across the U.S. to investigate poverty and discovered appalling conditions, from homelessness in California’s richest cities to open sewage in rural Alabama backyards.

In this clip, he talks about his visit to a San Francisco church that provides a haven for the homeless—one of only two churches in the area to do so—and goes on to discuss the role of government. Today's policies are the reverse of the New Deal, he says, which assumed that government had a responsibility to look after those at the bottom as well as those at the top. "The problem is that the United States has now become actually the least mobile socially of all of the rich countries," says Alston.