One of the points most clearly highlighted by Shipler's use of personal stories is that no single factor can be isolated as the cause of poverty. In the first chapter, Shipler describes two polarized viewpoints of what causes economic hardship in America. Those who believe in the "American Myth" feel that, with ambition and effort, anyone can prosper in the "land of opportunity." There are also those who hold the opposing view, the "American Anti-Myth," in which the blame is taken away from the individual and placed on under-funded school systems, unprotected communities, and an uncaring government. Shipler takes neither position; instead he stresses the fact that economic struggles are amix of "bad choices and bad fortune" (6). Through Shipler's examples, we see the paradoxicalrelationship between the various factors in the lives of these individuals. We see how fixing one factor or potential cause of misfortune does not remedy the situation and can, in fact, make other aspects worse. For example, employment training may provide a job, but lack of transportation and childcare may make it difficult for the individual to maintain that job, let alone climb the ladder to a more prosperous position. Throughout the text, Shipler uses such examples as a means of displaying the interrelationship between the choices and responsibilities of the individuals and the obstacles placed on them by their limited resources, lack of support, and a society that is often blind to their needs.
Bibliography:Shipler, David. "The Working Poor".