Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America By Barbra Ehrenreich Lisa, Izabella, Kari Book Criticism The book Nickel and Dimed “is about the struggles of those who toil in low wage dead-end jobs. Its message is that it’s almost impossible to succeed by remaining in jobs that require long hours at low pay without finding a way out of that trap” (Monitor staff). The parents of a Bedford High School student complained that Nickel and Dimed “portrayed capitalism negatively and was offensive to Christians” (Monitor Staff). Book Criticism A woman from the Cannonball Read series heard many people, “praising Nickel and Dimed -- both in conversations about the books, and in conversations about homelessness, housing access and poverty”. When she read the book, she said, “so many people praised it because it revealed to them the realities of the working poor. Ehrenreich is actually forthright about the fact that her experience does not mimic what it is actually like to live in poverty—it merely shows the difficulty of living from day-to-day on low wages” (Cannonball Read series). In contrast, Michael Reksulak thinks that this book is mainly about, “education.” He believes that “every college student learns that if America was to increase the minimum wage in Economics 101 there would be quite a few difficulties.” Author Biases Personal: Family worked hard to get themselves a higher income Educational: Has a PhD in Biology. Went to Reed College and Rockefeller University. Religious: Atheist Racial: White Gender: Female Author Biases Professional: Writer Geographical: Moved around a lot as a child and adult. Political: Democratic Socialist Summary: Introduction 1. She cannot fall back on any skills derived from her education or usual work 2. She has to take the highest-paying job she is offered and do her best to keep it 3. She has to take the cheapest accommodations she can find, with a reasonable consideration for safety and privacy. Summary: Continued Ehrenreich also adds a list of thing she will endure. 1. She will always have a car 2. She will never allow herself to be homeless 3. She will never go hungry. Summary: Serving in Florida Key West, Florida. Minimum wage process Ehrenreich works as a waitress at Hearthside. Ehrenreich obtains another waitressing job at a restaurant called, Jerry’s. Next she attempts to work for a full day with two jobs and gets another job at a hotel. She then leaves Key West in search of a new place. Summary: Scrubbing in Maine Ehrenreich moves to Portland, Maine. She chooses it for its “whiteness”. Wants to make a living by working two different jobs and to finally get to move out of the Motel 6 she found herself living in when she moved. “I need a job and an apartment, but to get a job I need an address and a phone number and to get an apartment it helps to have evidence of stable employment. The only plan I can come up with is to do everything at once and hope that the teenagers at the Motel 6 switchboard can be trusted to serve as my answering machine.” (54). Summary: Continued After a job search, she eventually gets a job at a nursing home for $7 an hour and a job at The Maids for $6.65 an hour. On the weekends she works at the nursing home and Monday through Friday at The Maids. She finds that it is a lot more work than she originally expected. In the end she tells coworkers and the people that she was around that she was seeing if she could survive in low-wage jobs. Summary: Selling in Minnesota Ehrenreich moves to Minneapolis, Minnesota Stays at rundown motel for $35 a night Finds a job position at Walmart Must take drug test Works in Ladies Department for $7 an hour Summary: Continued Cannot afford much other than her rent Motel raises rent to $55 a night Moves to the Comfort Inn- costs $50 a night. Plants the idea of a union in co-workers heads Quits job at Walmart Summary: Evaluation There are “few or no rewards for heroic performances” (Ehrenreich 195). Every job was physically demanding Overall, as a worker, a B+ Rise of rents is outstripping the rise in pay Employers resist wage raises Most surprising was the extent to which one is required to surrender basic liberties and self respect. Low wage workers have few options Summary: Continued Prosperous rarely see the poor and realize what they go through Believes that we should be ashamed at our own dependency on the underpaid labor of others “When someone works for less pay than she can live on-when she goes hungry so you can eat more cheaply and conveniently-then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life” (221). Central Claims: Introduction In Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich believes that a person cannot live off of minimum wage without government assistance, Medicaid, and housing. “But if the question was whether a single mother leaving welfare could survive without government assistance in the form of food stamps, Medicaid, and housing and child care subsidies, the answer was well known before I ever left the comforts of home” (3). Central Claims: Continued “According to the National Coalition for the homeless, in 1998-the year I started this project-it took, on average nationwide, an hourly wage of $8.89 to afford a one-bedroom apartment, and the Preamble Center for Public Policy was estimating that the odds against a typical welfare recipient’s landing a job at such a “living wage” were about 97 to 1” (3). Central Claims: Serving in Florida It is impossible to live on your own with minimum wage. “Gail is sharing a room in a well-known downtown flophouse for $250 a week. Her roommate, a male friend, has begun hitting on her, driving her nuts, but the rent would be impossible alone” (25). Central Claims: Continued Managers have easy jobs. “Managers can-sit for hours at a time if they want-but it’s their job to see that no one else does, even when there’s nothing to do, and this is why, for servers, slow times can be as exhausting as rushes” (22). Central Claims: Scrubbing in Maine Ads don’t always speak the truth. “A help-wanted ad may not mean that any help is wanted just now” (60). Central Claims: Continued The poor people of America are “invisible” “The poor have disappeared from the culture at large” (117-118). Central Claims: Selling in Minnesota Low wage workforce changes people “How Barb turned out-she’s meaner and slyer than I am, more cherishing of grudges, and not quite as smart as I’d hoped” (169). Too much money is spent on drug testing “In 1990, the federal government spent $11.7 million to test 29,000 federal employees. Since only 153 tested positive, the cost of detecting a single drug user was $77,000” (128). Central Claims: Continued It isn’t possible to make a living while working at Walmart “I either need to find a husband, like Melissa, or a second job, like some of my other coworkers” (170). Central Claims: Evaluation People can’t support themselves with a minimum wage job “Something is wrong, very wrong, when a single person in good health, a person who in addition possesses a working car, can barely support herself by the sweat of her brow. You don’t need a degree in economics to see that wages are too low and rents too high” (199). Central Claims: Continued You surrender basic rights to your low-wage job “What surprised and offended me the most about the lowwage workplace was the extent to which one is required to surrender one’s basic civil rights and self-respect” (208). The working poor make a great sacrifice “The ‘working poor,’ as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high.” (221). Agreements We agreed with almost all of the central claims - A person cannot live off of minimum wage without government assistance, Medicaid, and housing. - It is impossible to live on your own with minimum wage. - The poor people of America are “invisible” - Ads don’t always speak the truth. - Low wage workforce changes people - Too much money is spent on drug testing - It isn’t possible to make a living while working at Walmart - People can’t support themselves with a low-wage job Disagreements We disagreed with one central claim - Managers have easy jobs Reflection Introduction: explains Ehrenreich’s background and her middle class status. -Claims based off of prior knowledge of the working class Serving in Florida: Ehrenreich is trying to adjust to the low-wage work life -Claims based off of initial struggles Scrubbing in Maine: Starts to connect more with coworkers -Claims focused on struggles that are deeper rooted Reflection: Continued Selling in Minnesota: Ehrenreich heavily focuses on the unequal way of life the lower class goes through -Claims focus on the way things should be changed Evaluation: States the major points she came across, largest being that you cannot live off of a low wage job without assistance. -Claims bring together major points of the book Reflection: Continued Ehrenreich builds up to her major central claims by first exposing what a working class life entails and then slowly bringing out her opinions against lowwage life and finally coming to the conclusion that a change is necessary Works Cited "100 Books in One Year: Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich." 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Flop House. N.d. Photograph. n.p. Web. 1 Jun 2012. <http://explow.com/flophouse>. Help Wanted. 2011. Photograph. Connect to HR, Santa Clara. Web. 1 Jun 2012. <http://connecttohr.com/job-trend-reports-suggest-hiring-is-on-the-rise/>. Works Cited "Little Rock Walmart to hire 90 associates." The Spirit of Arkansas. World Now, 2012. Web. 1 Jun 2012. <http://www.katv.com/story/18584251/little-rock-walmart-tohire-90-associates>. Mastering Team. "SoundOps Audio Mastering Idea." MASTERING The SoundOps Studio Blog. Collaborative Studio Networks, Inc, 2012. Web. 26 May 2012. <http://mastering.soundops.com>. Nickel and Dimed cover. 2003. Photograph. University News: Appalachian State University , Boone. Web. 29 May 2012. <http://www.news.appstate.edu/2003/03/24/nickel/>. "Nickel and Dimed." Barbara Ehrenreich. N.p., 2011. Web. 26 May 2012. <http://www.barbaraehrenreich.com/nickelanddimed.htm>. Monitor Staff. "'Nickel and Dimed' is a good school choice." Concord Monitor [Concord] 22 12 2010, n. pag. Web. 3 Jun. 2012. www.concordmonitor.com Oha Estu. Waitress taking order. 2008. Photograph. FlickrWeb. 3 Jun 2012. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/oha/4929108122/> Poor People in Maine. N.d. Chart. PhotobucketWeb. 26 May 2012. <http://media.photobucket.com/image/Chartofhowmanypoorpeople are in Maine/NCrissieB/Poverty_duration_threeyear_without_titles.png> Rebecca Blank. Working and Poor. 2006. Photograph. Russel Sage FoundationWeb. 30 May 2012. <https://www.russellsage.org/publications/working-and-poor>. Works Cited Reksulak, Michael. "The Book Review: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America." Business Report. (2005): n. page. Web. 3 Jun. 2012. <www.savannahbusiness.com>. Safety Sign. N.d. Photograph. Status Hi-TechWeb. 1 Jun 2012. <http://www.statushitech.co.zm/catalogue.php?cataloguePage=9>. Stress. 2011. Photograph. The Grass Skirt BlogWeb. 26 May 2012. <http://thegrassskirtblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/5-Surprising-WaysStress-Affects-Health_full_article_vertical.jpg>. The Maids Home Services. 2007. Photograph. Vaughn House, Austin. Web. 3 Jun 2012. <http://www.vaughnhouse.org/sponsors.htm>. Types of Managers. 2011. Picture. Buzzle.com. Web. 1 Jun 2012. <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-managers.html>. "Visiting Minneapolis, MN." Trip Advisor. Minneapolis Northwest, 2012. Web. 26 May 2012. <http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g43323-Minneapolis_MinnesotaVacations.html>. Volvo. 2012. Photograph. Automobile World Web. 1 Jun 2012. <http://mycarblog.org/2011/10/19/volvo-262/>. You do the Math... N.d. Photograph. Poverty USA Web. 1 Jun 2012. <http://filipspagnoli.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/poverty-budget-us-povertyline1.jpg>. The End!