Nickel and Dimed is about a woman, Barbara Ehrenreich, working at a number of low-income jobs and writing about the experience. Barbara moves to three different cities in the United States to experience poverty and working conditions in those cities. Barbara spends about a month in each different city, where she works as a waitress, maid, and sales assistant, and reports on her experiences. She concludes by pointing out how difficult it is for low-income employees to get by and advocates policies to provide more social supports or increased wages.
I liked Nickel and Dimed because it revealed to me the realities of the working poor. I have learned that some people end up staying in motel rooms that cost twice as much as an apartment, because they cannot scrape together the money for a deposit. For most of this book, I was spellbound. These people are barely surviving. They are working through not only aches and pains, but broken bones that they cannot afford to fix. Nickel and Dimed makes me consider my financial situations, my educational opportunities, my pride, and my bias in ways that I have never thought of before. The struggle of working for less than a living wage is notable and eye opening as well as very sad. With no sense of community present, every one is measured solely by how they contribute in an economic world. The poor remain in their ghettos while the rich continue striving for an ever-larger part of the economic pie. I would have enjoyed this book even more if the author had more than just herself to manage. Consider just how difficult her circumstances would have been with children or an aged parent or a disabled family member to support? These are circumstances millions of our working poor are facing daily. Thousands of people are entering or re-entering the work force each month as low wage earners due to welfare reform, divorce, previous job loss, and more. How can we expect people who do not have conceptual knowledge...
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