She sets out to explore the world that welfare mothers are entered. The point was not so much to become poor as to get a sense of the spectrum of low-wage work that existed-from waitressing to housekeeping. She felt mistreated when it was announced that there has been a report on “drug activity”, as a result, the new employees will be required to be tested, as will the current employees on a random basis. She explained feeling mistreated, “I haven 't been treated this way-lined up in the corridor, threatened with locker searches, peppered with carelessly aimed accusations-since junior high school” (Ehrenreich,286). The other problem is that this job shows no sign of being financially viable. Ehrenreich states that there is no secret economies that nourish the poor, “If you can 't put up the two months’ rent you need to secure an apartment, you end up paying through the nose for a room by the week” (286). On the first day of housekeeping, she is yelled and given nineteen rooms to clean. For four hours without a break she striped and remake the beds. At the end of the experience she explained that she couldn 't hold two jobs and couldn 't make enough money to live on with one as where single mothers with children. She has clarified that she has advantages compare to the long-term
In her unforgettable memoir, Barbara Ehrenreich sets out to explore the lives of the working poor under the proposed welfare reforms in her hometown, Key West, Florida. Temporarily discarding her middle class status, she resides in a small cheap cabin located in a swampy background that is forty-five minutes from work, dines at fast food restaurants, and searches all over the city for a job. This heart-wrenching yet infuriating account of hers reveals the struggles that the low-income workers have to face just to survive. In the except from Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich uses many rhetorical strategies to illustrate the conditions of the low wage workers including personal anecdotes of humiliation at interviews, lists of restrictions due to limited
The gap in wealth between the rich and the poor continues to grow larger, as productivity increases but wages remain the same. There were changes in the tax structure that gave the wealthy tax breaks, such as only taxing for social security within the first $113,700 of income in a year. For CEOs this tax was paid off almost immediately. Free trade treaties broke barriers to trade and resulted in outsourcing and lower wages for workers. In “Job on the Line” by William Adler, a worker named Mollie James lost her job when the factory moved to Mexico. “The job in which Mollie James once took great pride, the job that both fostered and repaid her loyalty by enabling her to rise above humble beginnings and provide for her family – that job does not now pay Balbina Duque a wage sufficient to live on” (489). When Balbina started working she was only making 65 cents an hour. Another huge issue lies in the minimum wage. In 2007, the minimum wage was only 51% of the living wage in America. How can a person live 51% of a life? Especially when cuts were being made in anti-poverty and welfare programs that were intended to get people on their feet. Now, it seems that the system keeps people down, as they try to earn more but their benefits are taken away faster than they can earn. Even when workers tried to get together to help themselves they were thrown
For her book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, Barbara Ehrenreich, a middle-aged female investigative journalist, assumed the undercover position of a newly divorced housewife returning to work after several years of unemployment. The premise for Ehrenreich to go undercover in this way was due to her belief that a single mother returning to work after years of being on welfare would have a difficult time providing for her family on a low or minimum wage. Her cover story was the closest she could get to that of a welfare mother since she had no children and was not on welfare. During the time she developed the idea for the book, “roughly four million women about to be booted into the labor market by welfare reform” were going to have to survive on a $6 or $7 an hour wage; the wage of the inexperienced and uneducated. This paper will discuss Ehrenreich's approach to the research, her discoveries, and the economic assumptions we can make based on the information presented in her book.
Nickel and Dimed, by Barbra Ehrenreich, depicts the truth about low-income living in the United States. But rather than just writing about it, she actually did it. She chose various places across the country to conduct her observation and participation. She did what very few people would have had the courage to do. Hopefully, her book will change the way people look at low-wage work and possibly even change, for the better, the way low-income workers live their lives everyday.
“Workers Make Appeal to Taxpayers,” also follows Andrew Olson, a McDonald 's worker who makes $8.60 an hour, and his fiance who makes minimum wage in their experience under the poverty line. “Their salaries are so meager [...] that they rely on food stamps and Medicaid to get by,” says Kelly about Olson’s current living status, a lifestyle most Americans involuntarily live. Aside from the benefits wreaked by business owners and taxpayers, the workers living on poor salaries prove as the most positively and heavily affected; the three point nine percent of working citizens treated unfairly by big businesses. “Workers Make Appeal to Taxpayers” concludes with a quote from Olson, “Just because I work in fast food, does that mean I should have to just scrape by in
In today’s society, the question of minimum wage is a large political topic. Many people argue that it is impossible to live on a minimum wage lifestyle. In her novel Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich looks into this issue. In an experiment in which she mimics the life of a single woman, she moves into the low-wage workforce in three different cities in America. Within these cities, she attempts to make a living off of low-wage work and records her experiences, as well as the experiences of the true low-wage workers around her. Throughout Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich utilizes both vivid imagery and data in order to persuade the audience to agree that the low-wage lifestyle is truly un-livable.
Ehrenreich’s use of statistical information also proves to her audience that she in fact has done her research on this topic. She admits that poverty is a social topic that she frequently talks about. She researched that in 1998 the National Coalition for the Homeless reported that nationwide on average it would take about a wage of $8.89 to afford a one bedroom apartment and that the odds of common welfare recipients landing a job that pays such a “living wage” were about 97 to 1. Ehrenreich experiences this statistic in first person when she set out job hunting in Key West, Florida when she applied to 20 different jobs, ranging from wait tables to housekeeping, and of those applications, zero were responded to.
Millions of Americans work full-time, day in and day out, making near and sometimes just minimum wage. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them in part by the welfare claim, which promises that any job equals a better life. Barbara wondered how anyone can survive, let alone prosper, on $6-$7 an hour. Barbara moved from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, working in the cheapest lodgings available and accepting work as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing home aide, and Wal-Mart salesperson. She soon realizes that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and physical efforts and in most cases more than one job was needed to make ends meet. Nickel and Dimed reveals low-wage America in all of its glory, consisting of
Being raised in a single-parent lower class home, I realize first-hand the need for welfare and government assistance programs. I also realize that the system is very complex and can become a crutch to people who become dependent and complacent. As a liberal American I do believe that the government should provide services to the less fortunate and resources to find work. However, as able-bodied citizens we should not become complacent with collecting benefits and it is the government’s job to identify people who take advantage of the system and strip benefits from people who are not making efforts to support themselves independently. I will identify errors that exist within the welfare system and several policy recommendations to implement a change that will counteract the negative conditions that currently exist.
In the piece “Serving in Florida” by Barbara Ehrenreich several claims about poverty are made. At the time the piece was published in 2001, many Americans failed to accept the reality in the growing complications of poverty in the country. At that time there was not a wide variety of help for those on the poverty line. Ehrenreich embraces this idea, “There are no secret economies that nourish the poor; on the contrary, there are a host of special costs” (155). The poor commonly find themselves in minimum wage paying jobs, with no added benefits and harsh working standards. For many, it is difficult to overcome these conditions, especially when life provides its own burdens. Ehrenreich shows the example of her coworker Marianne’s boyfriend, and how he was laid off because of the “special costs”. A cut on his foot caused him to miss work, a low paying job and lack of benefits preventing him from providing the proper prescribed antibiotics (155). Since then the affordability of help for those on the poverty line has improved. The passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, mandated that all citizens must have healthcare coverage. A marketplace was
The people that David Shipler interviewed are the type of people seen every day working at restaurants, Wal-Mart, and gas stations. They do not fit into the prejudice description of mooching welfare recipients. They are people on the edge of the poverty line that are affected by a multitude of issues that snowball into a lifetime of a constant debt and crisis. Shipler studies these working po...
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.
Barbara Ehrenreich’s use of logos in order to gain the reader’s support and approval was prevalent throughout this section. She clearly outlines her credibility and aptitude in the introduction of her novel - she mentions her education as well as statistical facts about hourly wages in the United States and how they will relate to her experiment. She points out her “…PhD in biology, (which she) didn’t get by sitting at a desk and fiddling with numbers” and how “According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, in 1998 it took an hourly wage of $8.89 to afford a one-bedroom apartment…the odds against a typical welfare recipient’s landing a job at such a ‘living wage’ were about 97 to 1.”
In this book, Ehrenreich tries to work in three different places to see what it is like to work as a minimum wage worker. Ehrenreich worked as a server in Florida, housekeeper in Miami, and sales person in Minnesota, and still she didn’t make enough money to live comfortable. As she says, “Something is wrong, very wrong, when a single person in good health, a person who in addition possesses a working car, can barely support herself by the sweat of her brow. You don’t need a degree in economics to see that wages are too low and rent too high”(Ehrereich’s 199). She notices how hard it is for poor people to try to survive when they have to work with a minimum