Sunday, October 16, 2016
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Writing Style: Journalistic memoir
Premise: A quadrilateral digest to invite (or incite) thought and conversation on low wage workers and workplaces in America.
Personal Highlights: What is absolutely superb about this literary work is the writing...offensive in an unobtrusive, humorous and engaging way. To explain that sentence might take another book. The writing certainly did its job. My thoughts were all over the place. I'll, however, summarize my thoughts by answering one of the questions at the back of the book in the readers' guide section.
Have you ever been homeless, unemployed, without health insurance, or held down two jobs? ...What kind of help---if any---did you need to improve your situation?
Yes, I have been homeless, unemployed, without health insurance, AND held down two jobs. The key however, in working through this proxy was in my understanding of democracy, and while I'm here, my understanding of basic economics. Full employment and/or equal prosperity would topple a system...like a see-saw does when one person hops on (or off) without an opposing distribution of weight. Commodities (in this case, people and employment) along the economic bow of supply vs. demand operate similarly. These commodities continuously balance themselves, autonomously... naturally. There will be poor on one end and wealthy on the other end, and varying comportments of means in between. And here's the other key, what is comparably as interesting. The see-saw in its operation of going up and down... typifies an EQUAL share of grief... or glee. No one is getting over. The grass really ISN'T greener on the other side. Reminds me of a quote by Booker T. Washington. "One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him." So true. I've met the Joneses. In all directions across the train tracks.
With this picture in place, (why I shook my head about much in the book, though thoroughly entertained by the content in that same vein,) each individual must choose a station along this economic scale and work it to their comfort level. I'm reminded of the comment one maid made to Barbara when she fell and hurt her ankle on the job. The maid demanded, against Barbara's wishes, to work through it; wherein the maid's reply in answering Barbara's later question that eloquently frames my personal view. Amazingly (or naively) many believe feelings are transferrable or relatable. That if it's zero degrees out, everyone feels the same cold. We transfer these feelings/beliefs about all living matters... plants, animals, insects... and of course people... without understanding that each living entity operates (feels) within its own 'rhythm'. See... this is why I could draw this topic out in ANOTHER book.
All said, what helped me during the rough patches riding this economic beast of a see-saw was realizing how building and working within strong family units generally produces the most comfort... a major point braised over in Nickel and Dimed. Still, a thoroughly satisfying book. Highly recommended.