Thoughts on "Nickel and Dimed" By Barbara Eihrenreich

Essay by shibikotCollege, UndergraduateA, February 2004

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Currently in the United States, millions of working families do not have wages high enough to meet their basic needs. Consequently these families suffer tremendous hardships. Researchers around the country have begun to question the concept that work alone is the answer to poverty. How much does a household need to earn to make ends meet and what other support is needed? In researching the basis for her book, Barbara Ehrenreich became a low wage earner to learn first-hand the strategies to survive on minimum wage. She vividly describes with persistence and humor how difficult it is to survive on the wages of the lowest paid workers. Her book examines the sobering realities many American workers routinely face just trying to earn a living.

What if Barbara Ehrenreich was an immigrant? In this case there would be some major factors that could have affected her. First - whether or not she could speak English well.

It would be hard for her to get a decent job without basic communication skills. Next, many immigrants usually arrive with little money, just enough for the first couple of months. If there is no job found that can provide good financial support, immigrants end up in a hard situation of finding adequate housing. Also, within a country, the individual is at least given a chance to be himself. He may be treated with contempt because of his social class or gender but he at least knows the social rules of the country to understand why. However, when he immigrates to another country, he will not be familiar with many of the social rules. It is most likely he will not only meet contempt because of his class or gender but also because of his ethnic origin.

What if the author of Nickel And...