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Barbara Erenreich's book "Nickled and Dimed" [1] is a good illustration of how lack of cash forces the working poor to make economically sub-optimal choices.

An example will suffice: without the savings needed to put down a security deposit for an apartment, you are forced to leave in cheap motels (absent options like living with others or in a shelter), even though the monthly rate is higher. There's no kitchen in those motels and you may be working multiple jobs, which limits your ability to cook nutritious food and eat cheaply. And the cycle continues.

Some of the stories in George Packer's "The Unwinding" [2] emphasize how narrow the margin of error is. Everyone makes poor choices from time to time; those with resources (financial & social) can weather them.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Nickel-Dimed-Not-Getting-America/dp/03... [2] http://www.amazon.com/Unwinding-Inner-History-New-America/dp...

And Scratch Beginning by Adam Shepard is a good illustration of how a hard working person can work his way from homeless to middle class in under a year.


There are apparently good choices and bad - Erenreich illustrates how making the bad choices keeps you poor, while Shepard illustrates how making the good choices can you out of poverty.

Indeed, being young, male, healthy, educated, and white is a great way to bootstrap out of poverty.

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