Refuting Ehrenreich

A long time ago, I promised my wife I would do a bit on Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By In America, her treatise on how poor Americans cannot make it. She built her treatise up on a flawed experiment, where she beamed herself into areas for a couple of months of trying to make it on a meager salary by herself.

Well, although I have not yet filled that promise, a kid out of school put the American dream to the test:

Alone on a dark gritty street, Adam Shepard searched for a homeless shelter. He had a gym bag, $25, and little else. A former college athlete with a bachelor’s degree, Mr. Shepard had left a comfortable life with supportive parents in Raleigh, N.C. Now he was an outsider on the wrong side of the tracks in CharlesĀ­ton, S.C.

But Shepard’s descent into poverty in the summer of 2006 was no accident. Shortly after graduating from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., he intentionally left his parents’ home to test the vivacity of the American Dream. His goal: to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year.

Here’s an interview with the kid.

I can imagine reading this book in hardback, unlike the Ehrenreich tome, which I read in paperback so that it would do less damage when I threw it across the room. Which I did more than once.