Title: Nickel and Dimed
Author: Barbara Ehrenreich.
Quick Review: 3 stars (out of 5)
Why I Read It: I’ve gotten tired of everyone wanting to raise the minimum wage, so I did a little reading to find out why.
Where I Obtained the Book: Got it at my local library.
Synopsis: Our sharpest and most original social critic goes "undercover" as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity. Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreic
h decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. 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 want to live indoors. Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. You will never see anything -- from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal -- in quite the same way again.
Review: I didn’t agree with everything she had to say about living on minimum wage, but it was interesting the adventures she got herself into. I will never look at a motel room the same, or at a maid service(wow if you have one read this book, you may not be getting what you think you are.) I did like the bond that seemed to grow between the women working the different jobs.
I think the problem with living on minimum wage, is that we are not meant too. The lowest paying jobs are a jumping point, not a goal. We have to allow businesses to grow and by making them pay employees higher wages, they are not going to. I sympathize with the people working at Walmart as a career(in her book she worked there.) But, I don’t think those jobs are meant to be a career, they are starting points only. The government should not raise the minimum wage, people should look for other alternatives and gain more education in the process. Look into your local community college, many people qualify for a free education, take it.
This was an interesting book and I’m glad I read it, I don’t agree with her on many of her points.
Author Biography: Political activist and writer Barbara Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana on August 26, 1941. She studied physics at Reed College and graduated in 1963. She received a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Rockefeller University in 1968. Rather than pursuing a career in science, however, she decided to focus on social change. Ehrenreich has written columns and contributed articles to publications including Time Magazine, The Progressive, The New York Times, Mother Jones, The Atlantic Monthly, Ms, The New Republic, Harper's Magazine, and The Nation. She taught essay writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley in 1998 and 2000.
New York Times
New York Times