Nickel And Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

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Nickel And Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Why should we be the ones to pay for someone to sit around at home? The answer is one simple word, welfare. There are many reasons why people mooch on welfare, rather than going out and working. The only jobs these people are qualified for are minimum wage jobs. As Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, worked at minimum wage paying jobs and reported the hardships that people had to go through on a day-to-day basis. A critic responded by saying, “This is simply the case of an academic who is forced to get a real job…” Ehrenriech’s reasoning for joining the working-class is to report why people who mite be on welfare, continue to stay on welfare. Her reports show there are many hardships that go along with minimum waged jobs, in the areas of drug abuse, fatigue, the idea of invisibility, education and the American Dream.

A big disadvantage that the lower class has compared to the wealthy is a lack of quality education. While serving as a waitress, Ehrenriech learned about many different people. Some of these co-workers were immigrants who had recently come to this country. “I learn that he [George] is not paid by Jerry’s but the ‘agent’ who shipped him over--$5 an hour, with the agent getting the dollar or so difference between that and what Jerry’s pays dishwashers”(38). Their contracts lacked any benefits, and they were paid below minimum wage. People, like George, cannot read their contracts before they sign because they don’t understand the language. The critic would argue, “…They are baffled at the idea of fighting the class struggle of which…Ehrenriech appears to be the only person complaining about the situation…” In Georg...

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...so high. If they can’t smoke or drink, they won’t have anything else to live for. Another problem that the working class faces is invisibility. A person who is constantly ignored will lose respect for his or her self. Ehrenriech noticed in the restaurant business that those who cannot speak English are the ones who usually work in the kitchens, working at below minimum wage. Immigrants usually are the ones who are affected by this because they don’t know the laws of this country. All they know is that they can possibly work their way up socially from the bottom to the top. To give these people an actual chance of climbing up the social ladder, the government should do something to stop managers of stores from cheating the workers out of benefits and wages.

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