Nickel_and_Dimed__On__not__Getting_by_in_America - Warning...

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Warning Concerning Copyright Restrictions The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law. Printing note: If you do not want to print this page, select pages 2 to the end on the print dialog screen. Mann Library fax: 607 255-0318
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Nickel-and-dimed: On (not) getting by in America Barbara Ehrenreich Harper's Magazine; Jan 1999; 298, 1784; Research Library pg.37 Ehrenreich, Barbara. 1999. "Nickel-and- ' Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America." Harper's Magazine (298):37-52. FOLI O On (not) getting by in America BY BARBARA EHRENREIGH B t the beginning of June 1998 I leave behind everything that nor- mally soothes the ego and sustains the body—home, career, companion, reputa- tion, ATM card—for a plunge into the low-wage workforce. There, I become another, occupationally much diminished "Barbara Ehrenreich"—depicted on job-application forms as a divorced homemaker whose sole work experi- ence consists of housekeeping in a few private homes. I am terrified, at the beginning, of being unmasked for what 1 am: a middle-class journal- ist setting out to explore the world that welfare mothers are entering, at the rate of approximately 50,000 a month, as welfare reform kicks in. Hap- pily, though, my fears turn out to be entirely un- warranted: during a month of poverty and toil, my name goes unnoticed and for the most part un- uttered. In this parallel universe where my fa- ther never got out of the mines and I never got through college, I am "baby," "honey," "blondie," and, most commonly, "girl." My first task is to find a place to live. I figure that if I can earn $7 an hour—which, from the want ads, seems doable—I can afford to spend $500 on rent, or maybe, with severe economies, $600. In the Key West area, where I live, this pretty much confines me to flophouses and trailer homes— like the one, a pleasing fifteen-minute drive from town, that has no air-condi- tioning, no screens, no fans, no television, and, by way of diversion, only the challenge of evading the landlord's Doberman pinscher. The big problem with this place, though, is the rent, which at $675 a month is well beyond my reach. All right, Key West is expensive. But so is New York City, or the Bay Area, or Jackson Hole, or Telluride, or Boston, or any other place where tourists and the wealthy compete for living space with the people who clean their toilets and fry their hash browns.' Still, it is a shock to realize that
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This note was uploaded on 03/29/2009 for the course DSOC 1101 taught by Professor Hirshel during the Spring '07 term at Cornell.

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Nickel_and_Dimed__On__not__Getting_by_in_America - Warning...

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