While one could argue that the government is responsible for welfare reform, when one looks more closely at the issue, it can be effectively argued that the welfare program that Clinton instituted while in office was in response to a larger social movement that decried the abuse of welfare by stereotyped “welfare queens.” While it is indeed true that some degree of reform was indeed needed in the system, what Ehrenreich is able to show through her analysis is that the pathway chosen will, in the end, create more problems than it will solve.Thus, even though the government has moved millions of welfare recipients to work, the problem of poverty has simply shifted from a public sector problem to a private sector problem.The reality that she reveals is both heart wrenching and infuriating.
When presenting herself to others, Ehrenreich was a divorced homemaker reentering the workforce after many years.
She told others that she had three years of college at her real-life alma mater.
After one day of working at the hotel, she is tired and sleep deprived and has an awful night at her waitressing job.
She then decides she has had enough, walks out on both jobs, and leaves Key West. She chose Maine because of the large number of white, English speaking people in the low-wage force and notes that there is an abundance of work available.
Second, she had to take the highest-paying job that was offered to her and do her best to keep it.
Third, she had to take the cheapest accommodations she could find, with an acceptable level of safety and privacy.
She has three rules and parameters for her experiment.
First, in her search for jobs, she cannot fall back on any skills derived from her education or usual work.
Because she can make more money at the second job, she quits the first one.
After a month of waitressing there, Ehrenreich gets another job as a maid in a hotel making .10 an hour.