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Barbara Ehrenreich’s "Nickel and Dimed"

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  1. Introduction
  2. Hard and painful jobs for almost nothing but survival
    1. The toughness of the tasks
    2. A constant pressure exercised by the management
    3. A miserable wage for a miserable life
  3. The principle of low wage: A negation of human nature
    1. LWW sell their life and dignity
    2. Low wage workers: Outcast
    3. Getting a 'place' in the society
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

As a response to both Bill Clinton's introduction of the ?Welfare Reform? putting an end to what he called ?Welfare as we know it? and to the journalistic tendency of writing articles on the people far from the ground, Barbara Ehrenreich ? of course a bit forced by her editor ? decides to look for poverty and live it in everyday life assuming for that purpose to work as a low wage worker for a couple of months, i.e. trying to make ends meet with $6 or $7 per hour.

Barbara Ehrenreich, is a political essayist, who although is specialized in Chemistry and Physics (she owns a PhD), wrote a couple of essays dealing with societal and cultural issues. She can also be regarded as a journalist, she has already written for many well-known magazines and newspapers like The Nation, the New Republic, Time, and the New York Times Magazine.

At the beginning of her book, she specifies that she doubted herself of having the right profile for the job but with time the reader notes that she is discovering realities she couldn't have imagined before and seems always more motivated about her inquiry.

[...] The fact is, that the chief of the low wage worker, isn't generally paid much more than the average workers, but as intermediate between the poor worker and the corporate delegates, it gets the objectives and orders often in a very neglecting way. So he takes his revenge on the ?pain killers?, who besides doing dirty jobs have to suffer the cruelty of their chiefs. They make the workers feel that they owe them something and that the time the employees spend on their workplace doesn't belong to them but to the boss. [...]


[...] It brings Barbara Ehrenreich to such a point of rage and anger, that she goes to her boss in Portland in order to complain that: undermines my efficiency when I have to work alongside people who are crying, fainting, starving or otherwise visibly suffering.? The principle of low wage: a negation of human nature In Barbara Ehrenreich's book one discovers things one couldn't have imagined before. To this extent, the scenes in which she is comparing her living situation with the one from the REAL working poor is particularly fascinating. [...]


[...] But beyond this cold balance between incomes and expenses, this inquiry teaches us how hard the working and living conditions of the working poor really is. Ehrenreich's conclusion is to say that working poor are in fact the major philanthropists of our society? in that they accept to ?give and give? of their time and energy in order to serve the people, often in cheap and affordable services. My personal impression, after having read this book is that Barbara Ehrenreich's purpose gave me a quite authentic and strong insight of what is the everyday life [...]

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