Nickel And Dimed : On ( Not ) Getting

1175 WordsApr 23, 20155 Pages
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America details the work of Barbara Ehrenreich who undertook an economic social experiment to see if single mothers can survive financially with low wage jobs by integrating into the role of single mother entering the workforce. Of course with every experiment there were conditions and limits, for Ehrenreich there were three rules she tried not to break. Ehrenreich was to survive on low wages in three cities across America and in order to best replicate the role of a single mother with limited education and options, she could not fall back on any skills derived from her education or usual work, she was to take the highest-paying job offered, and to stay at the cheapest accommodations she could find.…show more content…
Under these reform acts most recipients were required to find jobs within two years of first receiving welfare payments, they were allowed up to 5 years of payments, and there were also family caps to prevent additional benefits being rewarded. Whether these reform acts were successful in their goals is a topic that has been intensely debated, and Ehrenreich provides somewhat of a first hand account of how these reforms directly affected recipients. Throughout the book we see several reoccurring patterns and themes. One of those is how workers continuously try to allocate income to food, lodging, and medical care. It is interesting to see how they, and Ehrenreich manage this feat. We also see the relationship between dead-end jobs and poverty traps, and the many obstacles Ehrenreichs’ characters faced. And, finally we see how applicable Ehrenreich’s experience, and that of low-wage workers are, by drawing comparisons to Madison, Wisconsin. The method of income allocating seems at best a feeble attempt to get by for those living paycheck to paycheck. First priority, and the bulk of expenses go towards lodging, and then second priority is food, medical care is often pushed back or avoided at all costs. We see this when Ehrenreich describes her co-worker, “Holly”, who continues to work despite being ill, and possibly pregnant. This is also apparent when Ehrenreich states, “There are no secret economics that
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