Education

Nickel and Dimed Response

This concept of class does not refer to how bad or how good a person is, but it represents the social and financial status of a person. This book raises a big question that requires an answer: why in our modern, advanced society are we still bound with this problem? Surely we should be making it possible for everyone to rise up out of poverty and low wages, and find a decent, respectable job which can lead to the education and job opportunities that are available to the middle class. Ehrenreich tries an experiment and her book is the story of how she attempted to live like a low wage worker. She moved from state to state looking for any kind of job and trying to live in that place using just the money that she earned. All the jobs that she found were low status positions, including jobs like waitressing, cleaning and looking after old people. When reading this part of the book I was surprised that her greatest difficulty was in finding affordable housing. I was aware that this is a problem for people who earn very low pay, but I had not thought about the issue of seasonal costs. It is much easier to rent housing outside the tourist season, for example, but the jobs do not take any account of this problem. The pay for the workers is the same all year round. Housing is therefore one of the biggest barriers that prevents people in low paid jobs from success. They also have to move around a lot, because of the rising prices, and this means they lose their friends and they have to live a long way from their place of work. This brings us to another barrier for people who try to work in these low paid jobs: transport. The author of this book insisted on having a car to drive around in, and she took this with her at the start of the experiment. Most poor people only dream of having a car because they cannot pay for the insurance and the gas. This means that they have to depend on public transport to get to work, or on their friends and co-workers. Many workers have children to look after, or elderly relatives who need. Ehrenreich points out that “Most civilized nations compensate for the inadequacy of wages by providing relatively generous public services such as health care insurance, free or subsidized child care, subsidized housing and effective public transportation” (Ehrenreich, 2008, p. 214). America, on the other hand, does not offer these benefits and this means that people struggle to cope with family commitments as well as jobs. Lack of support systems is therefore another barrier that affects people on low wages. The theory of capitalism suggests that the markets will work everything out, and that it will balance in the end, but reading this book shows us that there is a big human cost in all of this. Rich people profit from the labor of poor people, and the market supports this system. I think education is a way out of this trap. Education is a known ladder to success, and the organization “Save the Children” believes that it is “one of the most viable pathways out of poverty”. I frequently ask myself the question: “Why would we spend at least fifteen years in school instead of doing something else or even working? Of course we are protected by Child Labor laws from getting into the labor force too early, but the main reason for schooling is so that we can gain the skills available from elementary to high school or even to college and doctorate level which we need to find a good job. We need those

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