A Few Thousand Dollars

Sparking Prosperity for Everyone

A guide to making the U.S. economy work for everyone, by a leading advocate of asset development

“The American people—all the American people, especially those who have been left out and sidelined by past investments—deserve a realistic chance at going to college, buying a home, starting a business. This is the way an economy grows.” —from A Few Thousand Dollars

The majority of Americans do not have a few thousand dollars to weather an unexpected illness, job loss, or accident. Most Americans, including 80 percent of people of color, are locked out of the mainstream economy, unable to add their talents, work, and dreams, unable to share in the bounty of this economy. Without a nest egg most Americans cannot invest in their future—and the future of our country—through saving, entrepreneurship, education, and homeownership. We can—and we should—do better.

Longtime leader in the field of asset-building Robert E. Friedman demonstrates how a few simple policy changes would address wealth inequality—and build a better economy and a stronger country for us all. In six sharp, compelling chapters, accented by sixteen original black-and-white illustrations by Rohan Eason that present the realities of income and asset inequality and explain the needed policy interventions, Friedman addresses savings, business, education, home, and prosperity to articulate a vision for making inclusive investments without spending an additional dollar, just by transforming tax subsidies for the wealthy few into seeds for prosperity for everyone. This is an investment with a huge return: the redemption of the American promise of prosperity for all.


“Here’s the bad news: The United Nations has just announced that the United States has the biggest income disparity of any Western nation. Here’s the good news: Robert Friedman has just published A Few Thousand Dollars: Sparking Prosperity for Everyone, proof positive that low-income and very poor people will start businesses, seek education, and buy and keep homes given any chance. He has done this all of his activist life, and now he has given us a road map out of division and despair.”
—Gloria Steinem
“Robert Friedman’s opus treatment of our nation’s wealth divide reveals how essential assets and wealth are for building an equitable economy and society. The analysis of the racial wealth gap is profoundly sobering. Friedman’s years of personal and professional dedication shine in this work full of uplifting stories, striking graphics, and bold policy ideas.”
—Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and president, PolicyLink
“Bob Friedman has been fighting for economic justice since before it was cool. At a particularly dark and uncertain time in American politics, A Few Thousand Dollars is a beacon of hope lighting the way to a future America with opportunity for all.”
—Ezra Levin, co-executive director, Indivisible
“Friedman takes on tough issues—how growing wealth inequality threatens prosperity, why the deeply racialized distribution of assets stymies progress, and how small changes to the rules could set the country on a more equitable course. A Few Thousand Dollars is an important and highly readable contribution to a necessary debate about how to craft a more inclusive and sustainable American economy.”
—Manuel Pastor, professor, University of Southern California, and author of State of Resistance
A Few Thousand Dollars is superb social history, thorough case-making for policy, a treasure trove of great ideas, and brave. The opposite of poverty is not wealth, it’s justice.”
—Tom Shapiro, author of Toxic Inequality

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