GOOD BOOK READ: "NICKEL & DIMED" by Barbara Ehrenreich

  New York Times writer, Barbara Ehrenreich, traveled across the country working   at minimum wage jobs to learn first hand what it takes to survive with limited resources,  now revealed in her book, “Nickel and Dimed.”

''There are no secret economies that nourish the poor,'' Ehrenreich writes. ''On the contrary there are a host of special costs. If you can't put up the two months' rent you need to secure an apartment, you end up paying through the nose for a room by the week. If you have only a room, with a hot plate at best, you can't save by cooking up huge lentil stews that can be frozen for the week ahead. You eat fast food or the hot dogs and Styrofoam cups of soup that can be microwaved at a convenience store.' Without health insurance you risk a small cut becoming infected because you can afford neither a visit to the doctor nor antibiotics.

''Most civilized nations,'' Ehrenreich writes, ''compensate for the inadequacy of wages by providing relatively generous public services such as health insurance, free or subsidized child care, subsidized housing and effective public transportation. So what should we think about the fact that in America we are sending the poor out to make it on their own on little more than a quarter of a living wage?    Shame,” Ehrenreich suggests, “might be an appropriate response.”