What was Ehrenreich's goal?
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Ehrenreich’s chief point in her introduction is to explain that she did not try to “play poor”. Hers was not a Marie Antoinette quest, not an effort to pretend. After all, one does not pretend to work a low-wage job; one either works it or does not. “With all the real-life assets I’ve built up in middle age—bank account, IRA, health insurance, multiroom home—waiting indulgently in the background,” she concedes, “there was no way I was going to ‘experience poverty’ or find out how it ‘really feels’ to be a long-term low-wage worker.” Her aim, instead, was objective, scientific: to determine whether or not a low-wage worker can match income to expenses. It’s a nose-to-the-ground job, a close look at specifics as a way to perhaps extrapolate on the post-welfare-reform landscape. Whatever it is, it’s “straightforward”.