Many misconceptions come to light when talking about those American families below the poverty line, of those misconceptions are highlighted by statements such as that they do not work, work enough, or that they take advantage of public assistance that they do not need. In Nickel and Dimed on (Not) Getting by In America, Ehrenreich lives as a low wage worker and reveals the truth about the working poor. The working poor are defined as people who are employed but have incomes that fall below the poverty line . The families classified as the “working poor”, make up about 72 percent of low income families . It is common misconception that those families who live in poverty so not work enough to provide for their families.
One of the most prominent discoveries from Nickel and Dimed is that the working poor often struggle to get by with the most basic of necessities. From Ehrenreich’s journey she is quick to find out that many blue collar workers work “for less pay than she [they] can live on”(Ehrenreich 221). Members of the working poor are forced to live in the most destitute of situations and function with the most minimal of necessities. Because of this, members of this group are often malnourished because they do not have the time and resources to properly feed themselves. As seen from the author’s own experience the working poor often must “eat fast food or the hot dogs and Styrofoam cups of soup that can be microwaved in a convenience store”(Ehrenreich 27).
Barbara Ehrenreich's intent in the book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America exhibited how minimum wage isn't enough for Americans to get by on and that there's no hope for the lower class. Her main objective was achieved by living out the life of the "working poor". During the three cases studies she worked many jobs that are worked by many that are simply striving to live day to day. The jobs she had didn't generate sufficient income to avoid or help her rise out of poverty, in fact the six to seven dollar jobs made survival considerably difficult. Enitially, she believe the jobs didn't require any skill but while on her journey she started to realize they were stressful and drained a lot of energy.
In Florida, she got a job at a hotel cleaning rooms as well as the news that she had diabetes. It was also in Florida that Caroline eventually met a man who she got married to, this marriage, however, didn’t end her any troubles as she still has a low-paying job and children that she must take care of. It is these types of people that Ehrenreich encounters during her experiment. People who have experienced the middle-class lifestyle in the past and are now forced to join the working-class. Families who, although employed, are at the brink of scarcity and debt because of their extremely low wages.
There is little opportunity for her to meet new people of her own age and social class and it appears that nothing of any note ever happens. Fullerton, does however, have positive attributes. It is the home of Catherine's family, who are a stable and supportive unit. The people of Fullerton are more genuine than in Bath as the permanent residences require them to be sincere and eradicate the opportunity for the kind of trickery Catherine encounters from Isabella Thorpe in Bath. The second focal environment is Bath.
People are deemed poor if their incomes are insufficient to obtain the basic necessitates for themselves or their families. The most common and stereotypic explanation of poverty is the poor cause their own poverty because in America anything is possible if you want it. This “blame the poor” point of view is does not apply to all poverty stricken, a big misperception is that the poor do not work. Not only are most poor people able and more than willing to work hard and they do so when given the chance. The fact is nearly half of the poor populations of working age do work even if it is minimal and millions of them work full-time.
Welfare benefits are provided by the Government to help those who are unemployed or receive a low income. These benefits are there to provide families or individuals with enough money to survive. Unfortunately sometimes surviving just is not enough. Due to lack of work, idleness, disabilities and a number of other reasons people turn to benefits. A minority of these people are classed as or class themselves as living in poverty.
In Central America it is not uncommon for someone to have dropped out of school. The black market provides, for these people, a job. Although this job may at times seem very unprofitable a closer look reveals that it is the only thing keeping these people alive. For many this is the only type of job they can get because of the crippled economy and their lack of skills. Most of these people are single mothers who cannot earn as much as a man can but must take care of their children who were abandoned by their fathers.
Working conditions are bad and can be unbearable. Unable to get a job that pays a little more than minimum wage and the decrease of jobs that are out there can cause some to go into illegal jobs and to stay in those jobs in order to provide for their families. Even if they do not want to stay in those jobs, they do not know how to escape that lifestyle. Thoughts and Feelings: I actually really enjoyed this article, it made me think of many people that I fell I
College was not even an option for Connie because of a lack of means. Subsequently, she followed in her mother’s footsteps; and the cycle of poverty and worked low paying, unfulfilling jobs for many years. "All Americans do not have an equal opportunity to succeed, and class mobility in the United States is lower than that of the rest of the industrialized world " (Mantsios 200). It is very difficult to get out of the cycle of oppression, when the system is created to keep the poor in the same socioeconomic status. Connie stayed very poor until she was about eighteen years old.