Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nickel and Dimed, a book review

Wow, can I just say Barbara Ehrenreich, you are my hero. She is not only a good and smart writer, both humorous and easy-to-read, she went where few upper middle class members have gone before: blue collar- minimum wage world.

Nickel and Dimed is Ehrenreich's book-length attempt to uncover how the US 'minimum wage' cannot support even a single person attempting to live on it. Let alone a parent with children or families. She travels to Key West, Minneapolis and Portland, Maine to uncover this truth: that blue-collar workers making minimum wage (basically) cannot afford TO LIVE.

She works as a waitress at two different restaurants in Key West. I personally loved this section because I've been a waitress for so long. And a lot of things she nailed on the head. I particularly like what she wrote on restaurant management, since I have found that to be true in at least one place.

Her sections on being a house cleaner and Wal-Mart worker were poignant as well. She concludes with a 10-15 pg evaluation on what she found, and basically cries out for a rally by low-class workers against the unfair minimum wage imposed upon them. And she also explains her feelings that those taking welfare benefits only do so because trying to get a job would mean having to live off minimum wage, which is (as she sees it) impossible.

Let's be honest, I am perhaps not the best audience for this book as I already went into reading it believing 100% everything she was trying to prove. I have always (since I've had a political consciousness anyways) believed that the minimum wage is ridiculous and wondered why, if there is a MINIMUM wage why isn't there a MAXIMUM wage? Don't we all agree that there are some people out there with more money than they know what to do with? Do they DESERVE 50 antique cars and 2 yachts? Do people in other countries (and even our own) deserve to die from poverty and starvation, when someone else has so much? I am (obviously) of the opinion that no, no one deserves to die when others have so much that they don't need.

Do I think that many a non-liberal, non-socialist will pick up this book, no. But they should. Until someone goes out and proves her wrong, I think that this book's message should be something on every politician's (and citizen's) mind.

She makes a good point in this, that the real philanthropists are the minimum wage workers that work for less than they should to make things like clothes available for cheap for middle/ upper classes. Please ignore the cheesy music video starting around 6:00


Some other things I love right now:

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