- Gebundene Ausgabe: 221 Seiten
- Verlag: Henry Holt & Company Inc; Auflage: First Edition First Printing (31. Mai 2001)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0805063889
- ISBN-13: 978-0805063882
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 14,1 x 2,2 x 22,4 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 10 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 425.644 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 31. Mai 2001
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Essayist and cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich has always specialized in turning received wisdom on its head with intelligence, clarity, and verve. With some 12 million women being pushed into the labor market by welfare reform, she decided to do some good old-fashioned journalism and find out just how they were going to survive on the wages of the unskilled--at $6 to $7 an hour, only half of what is considered a living wage. So she did what millions of Americans do, she looked for a job and a place to live, worked that job, and tried to make ends meet.
As a waitress in Florida, where her name is suddenly transposed to "girl," trailer trash becomes a demographic category to aspire to with rent at $675 per month. In Maine, where she ends up working as both a cleaning woman and a nursing home assistant, she must first fill out endless pre-employment tests with trick questions such as "Some people work better when they're a little bit high." In Minnesota, she works at Wal-Mart under the repressive surveillance of men and women whose job it is to monitor her behavior for signs of sloth, theft, drug abuse, or worse. She even gets to experience the humiliation of the urine test.
So, do the poor have survival strategies unknown to the middle class? And did Ehrenreich feel the "bracing psychological effects of getting out of the house, as promised by the wonks who brought us welfare reform?" Nah. Even in her best-case scenario, with all the advantages of education, health, a car, and money for first month's rent, she has to work two jobs, seven days a week, and still almost winds up in a shelter. As Ehrenreich points out with her potent combination of humor and outrage, the laws of supply and demand have been reversed. Rental prices skyrocket, but wages never rise. Rather, jobs are so cheap as measured by the pay that workers are encouraged to take as many as they can. Behind those trademark Wal-Mart vests, it turns out, are the borderline homeless. With her characteristic wry wit and her unabashedly liberal bent, Ehrenreich brings the invisible poor out of hiding and, in the process, the world they inhabit--where civil liberties are often ignored and hard work fails to live up to its reputation as the ticket out of poverty. --Lesley Reed
"Ehrenreich is passionate, public, hotly lucid, and politically engaged." (Chicago Tribune)
"Ehrenreich's scorn withers, her humor stings, and her radical light shines on." (The Boston Globe)
"One of today's most original writers." (The New York Times)
"Barbara Ehrenreich is smart, provocative, funny, and sane in a world that needs more of all four."(Diane Sawyer)
The author comes across as a somewhat vapid individual, whose inherent biases and expectations prevent her from being able to live as a true member of the working poor or interact with them on a truly human level. She objects to having to take drug tests in order to secure a minimum wage position, stating that the costs of such a test outweigh the benefits, without any clear understanding, other than the cost of the drug test itself, of what the potential costs of employing substance abusers would be. She authoritatively uses statistics willy-nilly without grounding them in an appropriate context. The author does, however, establish one very important key point that would certainly tend to keep the working poor running in place, and that has to do with the cost of housing. The book leaves little doubt that there needs to be more affordable housing for the working poor. Yet, the author offers no suggestions as to how that would best be accomplished.
Moreover, the author, during her work as a cleaner for a cleaning service company, seems to have a lot of negative things to say about people who have had some demonstrable achievements in life. The author seems to forget that in almost every chapter she does not hesitate to remind the reader that she holds a Ph.D, is middle class, educated, yada, yada, yada. The one positive thing that comes out of her experience as a cleaner is that she points out that some cleaning service companies are doing a pretty filthy job of cleaning people's homes. Thanks, Barbara, for the tip, as I would now never consider using such, preferring to do it myself. Unfortunately, her remarks just might cause some of these companies to lose business, causing them to cut back on personnel, the very working poor of whom the author writes.
While the book is interesting at times, the pretentiousness of the author is generally grating and the books ends up being a poor execution of its promise. The author is the quintessential do-gooder, placed in settings of which she has little understanding other than her own pre-conceived, ideologically based ones. It is true that minimum wage will never allow anyone to flourish without some sort of support system in place. Minimum wage is nothing more than what its name states it is. Minimum wage, however, allows the unskilled, minimally experienced worker to get some job experience and a proven track record in terms of the work world. Moreover, some of the problems that the author mentions are just those of bad management by those in positions of power. This is not, however, a situation relegated to those who hold minimum wage jobs. Corporate America is rife with bad management and bosses that treat their employees, even well-compensated ones, badly.
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