Nickel and Dimed

by James & Miel on November 8, 2006 · 0 comments

The great debate, one of the many, continues in our household. Both being academics with strong opinions, we often like to debate about social issues. James has made several posts recently on poverty being a matter of choice.

I’d like to offer my thoughts on why poverty isn’t solely a matter of choice (not that I disagree that the last video clip had a jack*#! who proves James’ point very well!)

A good read that I picked up about a year ago is called: Nickel and Dimed – On (Not) Getting By in America. by Barbara Ehrenreich.

The basic idea is that as an education middle/upper class American, Barbara decides to give it a go on minimum wage. She gave herself some money to start out and a few ground rules to function from before diving into poverty.

Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, Ehrenreich worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly “unskilled,” that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.

Read this book and you will rethink poverty. Let’s put it this way, you wouldn’t want to test yourself to see if you could make it out of poverty.

Where do you stand on this debate?



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