Mary JL's Reviews > Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
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's review
Oct 01, 2009

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bookshelves: non-fiction
Recommended to Mary JL by: No one
Recommended for: Anyone; those interested in current problems

This book really illustrated what is meant by the "working poor"

The author, in good health, with a car, can barely make ends meet for just a few months. Imagine those who work this way their entire life. What happens if you need dental or medical care? Many low wage jobs offer no inusrance or very poor insurance.

The statement is often made "look for a better job". In what spare time? Get an education? Yes, certainly, IF you can get a loan for tuition.

This book does point out that many people are trapped in poverty. Almost all the women Ms Ehrenreich works with share a rental apartment. Because the number of affordable apartments avialable to low wage workers is a case where the supply available is much less than the demand.

One of the ladies working with MS. Ehrenreich in a maid cleaning job is quoted as saying "It would be nice if I could take a day off--If I had too--and still be able to buy groceries the next day."

Very thought provoking. Well worth a read by anyone.
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message 1: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jan 31, 2010 04:39PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike (the Paladin) The thing that bothers me about this book is (I suppose) that the author could hang it up and leave the life she's writing about. I suppose that's unfair of me. I went through several years of "unemployment" back in the late 70s (I suppose I could say "thank-you Jimmy Carter" here) and the early 80s. But by that I don't mean I was unemployed all that time. I was laid off from what I'd been doing and then for years supported my family with whatever work I could get. I did many things and we were often barely able to get by. It would be hard to really express to anyone who hasn't had to live that way (without the option to go back to their "real life") what it's like. I believe my late wife never actually got passed it even when I was back to full time work. I have this book still on my shelf (well all my books are packed right now as we're looking to move soon, but you get my meaning) and reviewed it as fair. But have never been able to sit and go through it. Maybe I'll give it another go as a front to back read later. I'm what is usually labeled a "conservative Christian" but my heart goes out to the "working poor". I respect them. I have a close friend who was a single mother of five children (ex-husband was I believe very little help) as a school teacher, I have paid bills from the salary I got at a fast food place (several actually) and worked as a "night stocker" (locked in all night to stock shelves) in a grocery store. The working poor are there and it would be nice if their employers would notice good work done and pay what it's worth without some politician getting involved.

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