mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Nickle and Dimed and debunked...

Via Tim Blair comes this excellent article from City Journal about the myths of the working poor.

I loved the ending. While I know that some of the poor have more obstacles than the average person to overcome, I've always rejected the idea that all poor people are poor through no fault of their own. At least some of them have made bad choices, or have different goals (having kids, drinking before noon) that conflict with the ability to earn lot of money. So I like the conclusion:

To stay out of poverty in America, it's necessary to do three simple things, social scientists have found: finish high school, don't have kids until you marry, and wait until you are at least 20 to marry. Do those three things, and the odds against your becoming impoverished are less than one in ten. Nearly 80 percent of everyone who fails to do those three things winds up poor.

I also like the fact that the article beats on Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickle and Dimed, a book where she worked a couple minimum wage jobs in various locations and complained about evil capitalists. She also talked at my college my senior year in a lecture I had to attend for a class.

I actually read her book while I was between jobs and had lots of time to kill. It was pretty awful. As City Journal points out, she set herself up to fail. City Journal points out that she only worked for a month at each job, which meant that she would never move up and get higher pay.

However, the fact that she moved to places she had no ties to also made it harder. I've found my last 2 apartments (at reasonable, if not below market, rents) thanks to friends. Most single employees have some support system - friends, family, boyfriends/girlfriends - to rely on. By eliminating that support system, she made life seem tougher than it really was. The fact that she had no verifiable employment history or experience probably didn't help her either.


At 3:49 AM, Blogger Bothered said...

Barbara's book was not awful. I sincerely hate people who say bad things about good writing when the author clearly qualifies what they are doing. It would have been awful had she expected the social commentary to be universal.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger mad anthony said...

Wow, you hate people like me who have a different opinion than you.

I think Barbara set up a very narrow situation where she was guarenteed to get the results that she wanted to make her political case, even though that situation is not applicable to most people on minimium wage or in the workforce in general. And I doubt she has any problems with people extrapolating those experiences to the real world even thought they aren't.

Even in the book, I remeber her justifying it with something to the effect that she once knew someone who knew someone who was in a similar situation - which isn't terribly convincing that she proves anything.


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