Buy the book The New York Times bestseller, and one of the most talked about books of the year, Nickel and Dimed has already become a classic of undercover reportage. Millions of Americans work for poverty-level wages, and one day Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that any job equals a better life.
There, I become another, occupationally much diminished "Barbara Ehrenreich" - depicted on job-application forms as a divorced homemaker whose sole work experience consists of housekeeping in a few private homes.
I am terrified, at the beginning, of being unmasked for what I am: Happily, though, my fears turn out to be entirely unwarranted: In this parallel universe where my father never got out of the mines and I never got through college, I am "baby," "honey," "blondie," and, most commonly, "girl.
In the Key West area, where I live, this pretty much confines me to flophouses and trailer homes - like the one, a pleasing fifteen-minute drive from town, that has no air-conditioning, no screens, no fans, no television, and, by way of diversion, only the challenge of evading the landlord's Doberman pinscher.
All right, Key West is expensive. But so is New York City, or the Bay Area, or Jackson Hole, or Telluride, or Boston, or any other place where tourists and the wealthy compete for living space with the people who clean their toilets and fry their hash browns.
Barbara Ehrenreich for TomDispatch: The viciousness of state officials to the poor and homeless is breathtaking, trapping them in a cycle of poverty. million people in the United States were in poverty. This accounts for % of the population. million people under 18 were in poverty which accounts for % of all people in poverty Nickel and Dimed portrays how a woman, Barbara Ehrenreich, works to discover if any job can be the. “What you don't necessarily realize when you start selling your time by the hour is that what you're really selling is your life.” ― Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.
I hate the drive, along a roadside studded with white crosses commemorating the more effective head-on collisions, but it's a sweet little place - a cabin, more or less, set in the swampy back yard of the converted mobile home where my landlord, an affable TV repairman, lives with his bartender girlfriend.
Anthropologically speaking, a bustling trailer park would be preferable, but here I have a gleaming white floor and a firm mattress, and the few resident bugs are easily vanquished.
Besides, I am not doing this for the anthropology. My aim is nothing so mistily subjective as to "experience poverty" or find out how it "really feels" to be a long-term low-wage worker. I've had enough unchosen encounters with poverty and the world of low-wage work to know it's not a place you want to visit for touristic purposes; it just smells too much like fear.
And with all my real-life assets - bank account, IRA, health insurance, multiroom home - waiting indulgently in the background, I am, of course, thoroughly insulated from the terrors that afflict the genuinely poor.
No, this is a purely objective, scientific sort of mission. The humanitarian rationale for welfare reform - as opposed to the more punitive and stingy impulses that may actually have motivated it - is that work will lift poor women out of poverty while simultaneously inflating their self-esteem and hence their future value in the labor market.
Thus, whatever the hassles involved in finding child care, transportation, etc. Now there are many problems with this comforting prediction, such as the fact that the economy will inevitably undergo a downturn, eliminating many jobs. Even without a downturn, the influx of a million former welfare recipients into the low-wage labor market could depress wages by as much as But is it really possible to make a living on the kinds of jobs currently available to unskilled people?
If these numbers are right, low-wage work is not a solution to poverty and possibly not even to homelessness. It may seem excessive to put this proposition to an experimental test.
As certain family members keep unhelpfully reminding me, the viability of low-wage work could be tested, after a fashion, without ever leaving my study. Why leave the people and work that I love? But I am an experimental scientist by training.
In that business, you don't just sit at a desk and theorize; you plunge into the everyday chaos of nature, where surprises lurk in the most mundane measurements.
Maybe, when I got into it, I would discover some hidden economies in the world of the low-wage worker. Maybe - who knows?Here's a down and dirty assessment of Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich: First the positive: While I was glad to see a popular book addressing the problems of the working poor, I couldn't help but feel like she'd taken a vacation in my life and then made a bunch of money writing a book about it, something she could only have achieved /5.
Nickel and Dimed is a book by Barbara Ehrenreich. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America study guide contains a biography of author Barbara Ehrenreich, literature essays, quiz questions.
Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of Nickel and Dimed, Blood Rites, The Worst Years of Our Lives (a New York Times bestseller), Fear of Falling, which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and eight other books. A frequent contributor to. Oct 10, · To Ms. Ehrenreich, the reliance on one’s personal disposition shifts attention from the larger social, political and economic forces behind poverty, unemployment and poor health care.
“What you don't necessarily realize when you start selling your time by the hour is that what you're really selling is your life.” ― Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.
quotes from Barbara Ehrenreich: 'Of all the nasty outcomes predicted for women's liberation none was more alarming than the suggestion that women would eventually become just like men.', 'What you don't necessarily realize when you start selling your time by the hour is that what you're really selling is your life.', and 'No matter that .