Research question: Historically, it was believed that hard work was the key to success, but is it appropriate to assume that all hard working people are living comfortably while those who do not perform live miserable lives?
Thesis statement: An examination of the living conditions of Americans with full time jobs reveals that people who work hard do not necessarily have accomplished, happy lives, and they still have to struggle to make ends meet.
Thesis Question: Does the hard work affect the financial status and the turnaround of income earned and is it a guarantee of a happy life?
Topic Sentence # 1: Single parents have had to work three times the average hours to make ends meet and bring up their children.
Quote 1: Angela considered herself as living in the lowest poverty class, in America. This is what motivated her to vow to do all that it took tp get out of that poverty stricken class. (Wilkerson 12)
Summary 1: Angela Whitaker is a mother of five children. She works in a food store during the day and as a security guard during the night. Her hard work still does not reflect on the awful lifestyle she has to endure.
Jean Reynolds, on the other hand, is a certified nursing assistant aged 51 years. While working the single job for 15 years, it did not sufficiently cover her family’s needs. Her family needed so much to survive, and this led to her to inability to meet bills. The eventual outcome of this was eviction.
We see Angela Whitaker even after she got a better paying job; she has to continue working tirelessly to maintain that position in the middle class. She has to work in the night shift because the salary is higher.
Topic Sentence #2: It is not easy for a single mother to avoid the life of poverty and live a middle class life.
Quote 2: “The American Myth says that any individual from the humblest origins can rise to wellbeing” (Shipler 5)
Summary 3: Breaking away from poverty requires a well-planned line up of favorable conditions, which include a realistic starting salary, a set of skills, and a job that one has a chance to be promoted. Many factors must be running concurrently. One must be free of significant amounts debts; must have a courageous self-esteem, free from diseases and addictions, a family that function, upright friends and assistance from agencies.
Topic #3: Most working poor single mothers lack a skill. They cannot contest for a salary inclement or better working conditions.
Summary 3: Shipler talks about workers who earn minimum wages; these are mostly immigrants from Mexico. They come to America to look for greener pastures. Most of them do not have necessary documents. They cannot contest for a salary raise due to fear of deportation.
Angela Whitaker had to finish her nursing studies. This is the point in her life that she attained job stability and a decent salary. Before then, she was an unskilled laborer, just like many of the minimum wage workers.
Jean Reynolds in Waging a Living had been working at the same nursing home for fifteen years providing care for the dying could still not support her family.
Barbara Brooks, also in waging a Living, is a mother struggling with the payment of government benefits. She completes her associate’s degree, which secures her a great job. Her salary increases but she finds out that her salary increments are deducted to repay government benefits. We see her go back to school to do a bachelor’s degree.
Topic #4: Salary increase does not change the state of affairs for the single mothers.
Quote 4: “Jean feel trapped and cheated because she had a dead end a job that "stole" the American dream from her.” (Weisberg 30)
Summary 4: Angela Whitaker even after getting her dream job, she finds out that since her salary increased, she had been spending more. Relatives come to borrow money; she still has to pay the money loaned to her to buy her car. In order to meet her family needs, she works overnight. This seems to be the only way to earn money to support her family. On the other hand, her husband works an extra job. She also continues to go to the small shops she used to buy goods from when she was still poor to save money.
Barbara Brooks received a salary increment; however, she never gets to enjoy the gains because she had to pay the government benefits. She has to further her studies in order to secure a better paying job in the future.
In the book, Mary Venittelli received support from her boyfriend. He helped her to avoid going back to her previous state of poverty. Once she has the finances, she joins a computer school in the hope that this would get her a better job.
All these people relate to jean because they live in poverty and never get to live the American dream. Thus, they all strive to improve their lives through taking courses to increase their job opportunities.
Topic #5: The abuse of government welfare denies poor single parents the help they deserve.
Summary 5: Nazneen Mehta compares an underprivileged woman and a welfare queen. She says that the welfare queen fraudulently takes from welfare policy programs. Hence affects the U.S public policy in helping genuine disadvantaged women.
Mehta also shows the role played by the media in showing the contrasting pictures to the public through television and circulated print. This affects the public image of the poor single mothers.
The government enforced term limits on single mothers in poverty. The single mothers would not receive additional aid if they gave birth in welfare. Benefits were also revoked to mothers who were students.