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Desc:excerpt from The American Ruling Class, a 'dramatic-documentary-musical'
Category:Classic Movies, Crime
Tags:poverty, Barbara Ehrenreich, american ruling class
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Comment count is 9
baleen - 2011-08-11
Not pictured: Boy scouts, plasma TVs, and game consoles.
The Mothership - 2011-08-11
"You don't see this."

Actually, yes, you do. You see this every day. You just choose not to see.
Baldr - 2011-08-11
I read Ehrenreich's book. I thought it was pretty good until the conclusion, where she attempted to bypass the economic argument that instituting a minimum wage would result in fewer jobs, and would cause more misery in the long run. She brought it up, and then completely ignored it, stating that the case for raising minimum wages was a moral argument, and thus trumped economics.

I thought this was basically insane, as she was attempting to divorce whether or not an action was good from its consequences. After that I mentally assigned Ehrenreich to the fruit-basket, along with the tea-partiers, PETA, and seasteaders.
baleen - 2011-08-11

Is it better to pay 10 people /hr to do the same job than it is to pay 1 person /hr? At what point do you draw the line and say "the current market value for job x is indefensible." Fifty cents an hour? Three bowls of rice an day?

The same race to the bottom is the reason we have H-2 and other imported workers. American citizens will not work for under a day in grueling, unsafe conditions, but Jamaicans will. Rather than face the American public with higher sugar prices and humane treatment of human beings, the market determines it that human beings are worth less than pricier donuts. There is a happy medium where people can survive alongside the goals of business.

The company I work for has gone through some serious problems. There are guys here who are working for practically nothing, literally, because they love us and believe in their work. Oh, they aren't working for nothing normally, they are paid extremely well for their hard work, but now with this death economy, they're working for sweat equity, because nobody is buying anything and thanks to rightwing debt banshees we can't float a decent loan.

Companies like Denny's and Wal-Mart won't pay in sweat equity, because that gives workers power.

Baldr - 2011-08-11
I don't think you're arguing against the case I've made. My point is that Ehrenreich says we should use solution X to resolve something we all (you, me, and her) agree is a problem. My issue with solution X is that a lot of the people whose job it is to understand things like solution X say it will cause more problems in the long run.

It seems to me that the reasonable option here is to come up with a different solution, or explain why solution X won't have unintended consequences, or maybe even explain why the people who say it will have unintended consequences shouldn't be trusted.

Re-categorizing solution X into a moral imperative does not fall under these three options. In fact, I consider it to be rhetorical slight-of-hand, designed to separate a policy issue from any consideration of its possible consequences.

baleen - 2011-08-11
Understood. She doesn't strike me as a policy analyst so much as an activist. She's like Jonathan Kozol in that regard. I've read a lot of arguments about minimum wage that refer to Ehrenreich, either for or against her. Some of the attacks on her book were very valid. She didn't factor in family and friends or roommates, for instance, in the experience of poor people. To people that value the connections that their family or community offers, that's a fairly valid point.

Ultimately, her work is to highlight the misconceptions in the United States that people who are stuck in minimum wage hell are lazy, they are disposable, they are spoiled, and there is opportunity for them to advance. Let the economists duke it out elsewhere.

Baldr - 2011-08-11
Yeah, I thought it was quite good in showing how people with limited resources can get trapped in shitty jobs that are almost impossible to escape. However, the fact that Ehrenreich's wrote it with an activist's bias makes me more weary of trusting her account. I'm concerned that she may have been inclined to exaggerate how hellish conditions actually were.

I think Nickel and Dimed was a good book, but it could have been a great book if she approached it more impartially.

baleen - 2011-08-11
I think the fact that this book didn't just make it onto the reading lists of college students but into the lives of the people she's writing about speaks volumes. If they needed a voice, I think they got one. I can agree that it's not comprehensive.

Abstract Fainter - 2011-08-11
Great expose on how entitlement is a threat to wealthy boomers just trying to provide jobs nerth a thankmfff son of a ghebbesd sdafjjha jasdfhsadfh huuuuuu.
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