Ripon College students Skype with best-selling author Desmond

Ripon College students, faculty and staff engage in a Skype discussion with best-selling author Matthew Desmond at Bovay’s in downtown Ripon on Jan. 30. Desmond’s 2016 book, “Evicted,” deals with the stories of the evictions of Milwaukee families and individuals. Ripon College President Zach Messitte said he was able to book Desmond because Desmond’s editor, Amanda Cook, is a long-time friend of Messitte’s.

Ripon College students had a chance to talk Jan. 30 to writer and Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond — while the best-selling author and MacArthur “genius” award-winner was at home.

Through the modern magic of Skype, students, faculty and staff were able to engage in a discussion with Desmond about his book, “Evicted,” which some of the students soon would be studying ...

“It’s true that the middle class has accepted more and more economic risk during [the past 40 years],” Desmond said. “But there’s another story, too ... A lot of middle class and upper middle class families — especially if you’re white — have been the some of the biggest beneficiaries of the American welfare state, but they don’t recognize that.” ...

Homeowners are entitled to tax expenditures, he explained, such as mortgage income deductions, which he called “one of the most generous tax expenditures.”

“Most of that benefit goes to families with six-figure incomes,” Desmond said. “It’s really simple: if you have bigger income, you can afford a bigger mortgage; and if you have a bigger mortgage, you can have a bigger deduction.

Read more of Desmond's thoughts in the Feb. 16, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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