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Nickel and Dimed - Essay Example

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Nickel and Dimed

The effects of poverty during the era of welfare reform are a stack irony of the perceived and actual reality witnessed by the low-wage workforce. Ehrenreich begins her experiment by pondering on ways how people live on wages earned by unskilled persons. In addition, she is perplexed by how millions of women, who are shoved by welfare reforms into the labor market are able to live on measly $7 per hour. In order to complete the experiment successfully, Ehrenreich implements a set of rules, which guide her through the duration of the experiment. To begin with, Ehrenreich establishes that, in the course of the experiment, she will not go hungry, lack a place to sleep, gain access to a vehicle, both her own or one rented and paid for through her credit card. Moreover, the writer pledges not to use any skills she has acquired through her regular work. Her first destination is Key West, Florida, where she settles on an anticipated net income of $500-a-month to facilitate efficient living. While in Florida, she lands her first job as a waitress at the Heatrhside restaurant, who’s working hours and wages show significant disparities. Here, she has to work from 2.00 to 10.00 on a wage of $2.43. We note that Ehrenreich accepts this job from mere necessity as it is not her best possible choice. The irony of Hearthside restaurant is that, despite its minimalism, it is attached to a rather large chain hotel, which offers better work incentives to skilled workers, making it inaccessible for the poor, unskilled workers such as Ehrenreich and her colleagues such as George. The depiction of George, an immigrant unskilled worker who is falsely accused of stealing from his workplace because he is incapable of defending himself, owing to the lack of comprehension of English and the issues around him. This is evident of the injustices suffered by the low-wage workers whose wages render them incapable of seeking legal redress whenever they are confronted with problems such as George’s (Ehrenreich, p.99). Moreover, hardships faced by low-income earners are compounded by the oppressive nature of those in their surroundings, especially ones who have authority over the former. In the story, Hearthside restaurant’s management employs oppressive tactics in their managerial roles. For instance, Stu is always on the lookout for employees who take time off to relax. At the same time, Stu is always allocating duties to ensure all restaurant employees are working even when there are no customers in the restaurant. In addition, Phillip, the restaurant’s manager humiliates the employees by lecturing them as one would lecture a first grader. He threatens to run impromptu locker searches and condemns employee communication terming it as gossip. Phillip exemplifies a significant problem encountered by unskilled workers trying to survive on a meager salary as he paints the grim picture of what low-wage workers contend with in order to secure their daily bread. The wanton disregard for workers’ rights to communication, as well as their right to privacy, is constantly impeded by those in authority. Furthermore, the lauded labor welfare is hardly accessible to those who need it the most; low-income earners. These unskilled persons are forced to seek ...Show more


Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Nickel and Dimed Nickel and Dimed is a non-fiction story of a writer, Barbara Ehrenreish, who undertook an experiment in Minnesota, Florida and Maine seeking to uncover how unskilled workers in these regions get by. In the performance of the experiment, the writer went undercover for a period of one month in each area, working on a full time basis while seeking ways to make ends meet on the little money earned by low-wage workers…
Author : gregorioolson
Nickel and Dimed essay example
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Book Review Barbara Ehreneich. 2001. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America
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His aim was to find out how unskilled workers survived to make their ends meet. He conducted his experiment mainly in Minnesota, Floridra, and Maine. He focused on getting a job, and lodging in each location he went for his research. He conducted his research for the duration of one month in every location.
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