Featured research project --
Ehrenreich claimed to have
gone undercover and tested
what it's like to be working class in
today's world, only to find
that it's not possible
to escape the bottoms.
We claim that her attempts
were flawed by her own self-defeating
behaviors and that there is
a financial plan that does
find the path out and
arrives at freedom and comfort, though
not as a typical misguided
middle class serf.
Join us for a spreadsheet presentation
and the history of Ehrenreich's
when presented with our evidence.
To Barbara Ehrenreich and the readers of her book Nickel and Dimed:
We here disprove the book's claims -- that it's not possible to 'make it in America' and thereby undo the book's curse that is condemning to Ehrenreich's defeatism those who are struggling with the working class' dilemmas. For without this insight into the book's failure, her neediest readers will likely never realize that there is a route to financial independence and comfort.
Our analysis of the Nickel and Dimed claims and Ehrenreich's performance in the book, including her choices where she threw away her chances in the game and defeated her apparent determination. Published at the online site for the Last Straw Revolution, a magazine which
1) -- focuses on the failure of the corporate feminist agenda to achieve parity after almost half a century of determined struggling
2) -- supports the women opting out of that illusionary quest. There are games in which the only winning strategy is to fold and take your stakes elsewhere. The parity agenda is one of those. Join us later at LSR for the reasoned conclusion, the evidence, the players' admission of cheating and the games' built-in inescapable trap.
Second... The history of the email discussion with Ehrenreich of the problems in Nickel and Dimed's claims, in which Ehrenreich originally considers that we would be able to present our position that she had missed the route and consequently had condemned her readers to her defeatist illusion. After she suggested that she would consider publishing my contention if I sent it in as an article, we sent her that suggested article with our description of the escape route which was followed by her total silence.
Lastly... One variation of a type of financial planning spreadsheet that demonstrates one scenario for a single mother with one child and her own mother -- the baby's grandmother. Each of them working class and deciding to pursue common cause in their quest for freedom and comfort for themselves and for the baby. They each start with a small amount of money (just as Ehrenreich allowed herself), a car -- rather ancient -- between them, a few key kitchen appliances and a small personal wardrobe -- probably thrift store and Walmart, of a few items.
Key choices and starting assumptions used in this spreadsheet scenario:
In the beginning, the baby is just barely 2 years old, the single mother (Mom) 24 and her mother (Gma) is 54. References to Teen in the income calculations is the later efforts of the later-grownup baby, though for this spreadsheet-plan no income inputs are included. It all depends on the young mother and her own mother.
Income assumptions are based on near/minimum level starting pay-rates, increased annually by $.20/hour, nothing spectacular. These pay levels are applied to work-schedules that are 20 hour weeks and are time-shifted so that no daycare is needed for the baby, and it's possible to get to work using one car between the two.
All dollars are constant dollars. All future comparisons to determine progress would need to be deflated for monitoring, rather than trying to judge the reality of future expenses with some inflation factor complicating planning perceptions of realism.
Interest rates are realistically set as small percentages over COL, and used for savings, reserving the longterm rate for levels of savings over $1000 and the lower rate for shortterm funding accounts.
Debt functions were programmed in for major size needs if savings had dipped below $3000. This scenario did not have such a problem since the Gma did start her SocSec benefits at age 62 when their home-buying project came into the plan -- though still working at her low-paying job for a while longer.
Each of them saved their half of the net bottom line, with their savings invested in longterm rate opportunities for whatever they had over their individual funding amount of $1000.
All expenses used are based on our shopping and lengthy experience with living the cyber-hobbit lifestyle, but those principles were well known long ago when the earliest estimates from the Agriculture Department defined how americans could manage comfortably on a minimum income using bulk foods, pantry management, rawfoods and thrift store -- and now WalMart -- shopping. Foods expenses increase with growth for the baby. And decrease with home ownership.
The child's education and the family's access to computers is built on the public school version of home-schooling (OHDELA) which provides computer hardware/software, but the family use of high-speed internet is built into the education expense line. This education option supports the life-directed planning and builds contented families while it prepares the child for dealing with freedom and responsibility and work-independence.
Transportation is built on a Consumers Reported car reputation, moderate driving for the early more central apartment living and more driving for the doublewide home stage further outside the city. Bus riding did not turn out to be practical financially and probably not logistically either.
Health care expenses were nominal and based on our own experience of dealing with/avoiding the insurance, pharmaceutical and medical events that are part of self-insuring preparation, since they would be aiming for that ability. Other scenarios of starting points would need alternate planning appropriate for individual cases.
Under this plan, the Gma retires from parttime work at 66. DIY skills had accumulated as they had built the infrastructure for the double wide over the initial transition from apartment to doublewide. The doublewide is assumed to have been selected conscientiously to include energy efficiency options instead of glamour traps, conservation options instead of misguided western civ ideas and location savings for lower government in the area.
When Gma reaches 72 -- and her daughter is 42, her grandchild is 19 -- the doublewide is paid off, and their savings accelerate and other opportunities mount up. At that mortgage-free home ownership point, Gma's savings are near $70,000 and her daughter's are nearly $60,000.
It's time for a bigger home and more adventures in living cyber-hobbit style.
JH Raichyk, PhD
Mathematical Decision Analyst