I am not a 2020 fan and am not familiar with John Stossel, but I found some time to watch the show Friday March 13th. Mr. Stossel's voice is pleasant enough, but his delivery a bit patronizing. The vocal intonation and choice of words during his piece on Barbara Ehrenriech and Adam Sheppard ("Bailouts and Bull") made it clear that he had made a conclusion and then conducted his interviews in support. Nonetheless, I will contest his conclusion as if it were valid.
Ms. Ehrenriech's contention that the American middle class is struggling and Mr. Sheppard's attempt to prove the American Dream is alive and well were almost sidebars to Stossel's obvious bias and sensationalism, which is lamentably common in the "infotainment" business. But I would like to point out the flaws in even comparing the two different experiences of these two very different people, when they set out to find entry-level work in America.
First of all, Adam Sheppard is a recent college graduate, white, male, and in obviously good physical shape. Starting with virtually nothing, he got a job doing---guess what?-- physical labor. By the end of his story he had made a small success of himself--bought a beat up truck, rented an apartment, and saved up $5000. But , he was certainly not yet what anyone would call middle class. Ms. Ehrenriech is a 50-something female, dare I say past her physical prime, but reasonably intelligent enough to make a meager living given the right opportunity. Obviously it is going to be more difficult for her to find entry level work than it is for a young fit white guy.
A more reasonable measurement of the American Dream and the struggle of the Middle Class would be if Adam Sheppard were an unemployed 45 year old single father with 2 teenagers, an overdue mortgage payment, no health care, and no car. This would be a real test of his ability to find his way back to the lifestyle he had worked for and then seen slip away. Oh, let's give him high blood pressure and a real estate license, just to make it more realistic.
Ms Ehrenriech was obviously not prepared for Mr. Stossel's interview style and his knack for offering up preposterous and misleading examples to defend his conclusion (the former CEO of Walmart, Lee Scott, did not start as an entry-level employee). Her book would make it seem like she had succeeded at entry level work, however, if Mr. Sheppard were the real-life altered character in my experiment.
I'm still not a fan of 2020.