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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in…

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001)

by Barbara Ehrenreich

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,981147407 (3.74)168
Recently added bystephaniej12112, e-zReader, private library, kateminasian, LisaYork, danhibbert, CommunityAtheneum
Legacy LibrariesJack Layton
  1. 20
    The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy by Lisa Dodson (zhejw)
    zhejw: In the 1990s, Barbara Ehrenreich goes "undercover" to discover how low wage workers (don't) get by. In the next decade, Lisa Dodson tells the stories of some such workers and their children, but focuses her time on those who supervise and serve them, subverting the system to help.… (more)
  2. 20
    Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (WoodsieGirl)
    WoodsieGirl: To see how little things change...
  3. 10
    Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam W. Shepard (amyblue)
  4. 11
    Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States by Pete Jordan (Othemts)
    Othemts: A pair of books that show the conditions for the worker in America's least desirable jobs.
  5. 00
    Mcquaig Linda : Canada'S Social Welfare by Linda McQuaig (bhowell)
  6. 01
    Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki (readysetgo)
    readysetgo: An opposing view to the fatalistic tone of this book.
  7. 03
    Pe sub poduri by Mike Yankoski (infiniteletters)

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» See also 168 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
At the end of the 90's, Barbara Ehrenreich entered the world of the working poor and strove to live among them as an equal. What she found should shock every American into action. Their world of poverty, struggles to make ends meet, despite having more than one job, and lack of housing is a black eye for America. The many challenges and fear involved in trying to make ends meet enough to keep a roof over one's head and food in their stomachs are eye openers. Next time you shop at Wal-Mart, have a waitress take your order, or get your house cleaned, think of the millions who are suffering. Write your Senators. Help stop the heartbreak. ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
It's been years since I first read this book, yet I still refer to it often. The amount of effort involved in keeping a minimum wage job going in America, and the failure of the world's biggest economy to provide for it's citizens in any meaningful way, still leave me filled with gratitude that I live in a country with it's roots more firmly in socialism than capitalism.
Still looking forward to going to a tent revival as a form of entertainment one day! ( )
  kathay | Sep 26, 2014 |
Not worth reading and would not recommend ( )
  rchmccaulley | Jul 26, 2014 |
I couldn't get through the first few chapters of this book. The first words that come to mind are 'elitist' and 'uppity'. Out of touch is another description of the author and her hypothesis.

The idea of putting yourself in another's shoes is intriguing, to literally 'walk a mile in someones shoes' but it seems the author went into it with too much sympathy and preconceived notions, blind to all the other shoes that don't fit her Utopian criteria.

Personal responsibility, pride in ownership and striving to better oneself are doctrines more fitting to people who find themselves in the lower economic range. To be sure, in my experience, one is not doomed to remain in any particular class, nor guaranteed to remain at the top.

Couldn't get rid of this one fast enough. ( )
1 vote readysetgo | Apr 1, 2014 |
I have been meaning to read this book since I heard about it on NPR when it first came out but there are so many books to read, and so little time. It is a wonderful, fast read and very informative if you have never dropped in to one of these neighborhood gulags or known anyone who has been stuck there.
As I read, I kept thinking that of course she can face it every day, she has the extra comfort of knowing she can always leave when it is too much or she has enough information, whichever happens first. She has never had to deal with the panic that comes with a sick child and knowing that your job is on the line if you consider for a moment not choosing your employment over your child's well-being. She has never known the gut-wrenching fear that a new noise in your old car quickly delivers to the core of your being. I would compare it to watching a movie of a roller coaster and thinking you have the whole experience.
That said though, it takes a gutsy lady to take on a subject that almost no one wants to talk about, and I see that she has updated editions. I will have to read those and see if she revisited any job sites or employees and certainly the latest government figures should be interesting to look at no matter how positively they might be skewed. Thanks and gratitude to Barbara Ehrenreich for taking the time out to suffer a little and write about it. ( )
  PhyllisHarrison | Feb 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
We have Barbara Ehrenreich to thank for bringing us the news of America's working poor so clearly and directly, and conveying with it a deep moral outrage and a finely textured sense of lives as lived.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Ehrenreichprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guglielmina, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gustafsson, KerstinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamminen, LeenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mostly out of laziness, I decide to start my low-wage life in the town nearest to where I actually live, Key West, Florida, which, with a population of about 25,000 is elbowing its way up to the status of a genuine city.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Very interesting, appalling narration and discussion of the writer's foray into living as does America's employed underclass, the working poor. Learning to do new tasks at each new poorly paid position, knowing no one, and unable to pay rent, eat, and take care of the bills is the daily norm for millions in this position and Ms. Ehrenreich tells it -- and shows it -- like it is.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805063897, Paperback)

Essayist and cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich has always specialized in turning received wisdom on its head with intelligence, clarity, and verve. With some 12 million women being pushed into the labor market by welfare reform, she decided to do some good old-fashioned journalism and find out just how they were going to survive on the wages of the unskilled--at $6 to $7 an hour, only half of what is considered a living wage. So she did what millions of Americans do, she looked for a job and a place to live, worked that job, and tried to make ends meet.

As a waitress in Florida, where her name is suddenly transposed to "girl," trailer trash becomes a demographic category to aspire to with rent at $675 per month. In Maine, where she ends up working as both a cleaning woman and a nursing home assistant, she must first fill out endless pre-employment tests with trick questions such as "Some people work better when they're a little bit high." In Minnesota, she works at Wal-Mart under the repressive surveillance of men and women whose job it is to monitor her behavior for signs of sloth, theft, drug abuse, or worse. She even gets to experience the humiliation of the urine test.

So, do the poor have survival strategies unknown to the middle class? And did Ehrenreich feel the "bracing psychological effects of getting out of the house, as promised by the wonks who brought us welfare reform?" Nah. Even in her best-case scenario, with all the advantages of education, health, a car, and money for first month's rent, she has to work two jobs, seven days a week, and still almost winds up in a shelter. As Ehrenreich points out with her potent combination of humor and outrage, the laws of supply and demand have been reversed. Rental prices skyrocket, but wages never rise. Rather, jobs are so cheap as measured by the pay that workers are encouraged to take as many as they can. Behind those trademark Wal-Mart vests, it turns out, are the borderline homeless. With her characteristic wry wit and her unabashedly liberal bent, Ehrenreich brings the invisible poor out of hiding and, in the process, the world they inhabit--where civil liberties are often ignored and hard work fails to live up to its reputation as the ticket out of poverty. --Lesley Reed

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:18 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Millions of Americans work full-time, year-round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- could be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on six to seven dollars an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered as a woefully inexperienced homemaker returning to the workforce. So began a grueling, hair raising, and darkly funny odyssey through the underside of working America. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, Ehrenreich worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. 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 intend to live indoors.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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