Nickel and Dimed: Not Getting By In America by Barbara Ehrenreich

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In Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By In America, Barbara Ehrenreich gives an accurate and inside view of how the very bottom of the social strata lives, those who scrape a living from working minimum wage jobs. While there are a few discrepancies that will be discussed, Barbara gives an untold view of the individuals that live at, or below the poverty line. This paper will critically analyze Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America, discuss two major themes in the book, and ultimately relate it to a few points to Political Science 204.

Ehrenreich begins her experiment in Key West, close to where she usually lives (Ehrenreich 25). Working as a server at a low end restaurant, She soon realizes that to have enough money to make ends meet, one usually has to have two jobs, and soon picks up another one. Eventually, she ends up quitting one, realizing that she doesn’t have the physical ability to work back to back shifts.

Her next phase of her undercover work takes her to Portland Maine, where she begins to see just how poorly people are treated in the lower class. Working as a maid, she is looked down upon by others in society, and treated even worse by her boss, who completely extorts her fellow workers. Here she realizes that people are completely stuck in the job they are in, and have to work every day, just to make ends meet (Ehrenreich 119).

Finally her travels take her to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Ehrenreich works as a sales person at a Walmart, the largest privately owned employer. Here, she struggles to find a place to live, and ultimately, has to live in a very expensive motel. She does, however, get offered the highest payment option of 10 dollars an hour, but turns it down because she believes...

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...ther being, that lower income people are in fact hard workers and are stuck in their social economic class. Finally, this paper discusses how it relates to our PS 204 class, and how one can link the ideas in this class with those from the book. Issues like equality which are mentioned in the book, and others like voter participation, which was a question raised by this author, are major issues in our country today. These issues need to be addressed so that individuals like Gail and Holly don t have to worry if they are injured on the job, because they know they will be taken care of. Confucius says it best, “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” (quote site). Our country has the ability to help these individuals, the question is, what are YOU going to do about it?
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