THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
BETWEEN HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS, CHOICES AND COMPLICATIONS

A case of poor decision-making, not simply bad luck in hard times

August 28, 2011

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BECAUSE OF the sole example reporter Megan Woolhouse uses, I question the integrity of the analysis set forth in “Between haves, have-nots, an ever greater gulf’’ (Page A1, Aug. 21). First, it is unclear whether the statistics comparing median incomes among affluent and poor families are comparing apples to apples. Do the incomes for affluent families represent single-parent or single-wage-earner families, such as that of the article’s subject, Mindy Shoestock of North Adams? Unless the family incomes comprising the $230,000 figure are solely based on one wage earner in all cases, it is an unfair comparison.

Although the article begins with staggering statistics, it ends with the real lesson: This example is about personal responsibility, not simply bad luck in hard times. While I applaud Shoestock for working at the best job she can given her geography and the present economy, I question whether she is not a victim of her own making.

It’s difficult to have much sympathy after learning that she is now pregnant with a third child despite her economic situation. Moreover, she did not start her career at a faultless “disadvantage,’’ as Woolhouse seems to suggest. Rather, she started out with the result of poor teenage decision-making.

Kristen M. Ploetz
Quincy