10. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

by Barbara Ehrenriech

A good read. Sort of what you might expect from of a now privileged prolific political writer who cares deeply about struggling people. She reports on her passable job of trying to exist economically working some of the more low end jobs. Her gift is her sensitivity and willngness to write about her very personal struggles trying to cover the costs of rent and food while working as a house cleaner, hotel room service worker and a resaraunt waitress. Turns out that it can't be done for very long.

Problem is that she approaches it half-heartedly. What I mean is that that she allots herself a rental car, health care and a certain distance from her "subjects." These amenities render her incapable of experiencing the most critical aspects of these people's lives: the falling. What happens when the car breaks down? What happens when you really can't make the rent? What happens when you don't have health insurance for a long period of time? These are the concerns that drive this class of people. The fact that there is no safety net. The fact that economic as well as emotional crisis are imminent, a guarantee.

I think the book is a good report from one member of the upper middle class to others of the same class but I'm not sure of its effectiveness as a catalyst for change.

But she does criticize Wal-Mart, although even that is a soft punch.

1 comment:

Jarrett said...

excellent book. I read an excerpt in Harper's a few years ago and then read the book when it came out. A compelling argument against capitalism and the ability to survive simply by "pulling one's self by one's bootstraps."