Reader Rambles ~ Nickel & Dimed

A few years back, there was a girl studying to be a writer. In college and too caught up with everything to think beyond the degree, she was ecstatic to receive a book in the mail from one of her favorite authors, a contest win novel by the name of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. As excited as the girl was to receive this novel, it fell to the side, losing the battle against class reading and a huge personal to be read pile. Fast forward to the present. The girl has entered her third month in a full time job, making a living in her new home with her fiancé. On a whim, she picks the book up again, unaware that it would challenge everything she believed about poverty and those living on minimum wage. I’m not kidding when I say this book blew my mind. Written more than ten years ago, when the economy was actually in half way decent shape, the trials this writer went through on her experiment of living on minimum wage was eye opening. I can only imagine how it would be now, when I can personally attest to how hard it can be to find a good job. My parents came from barely getting by to putting me through college debt free, so it was sometimes hard for me to relate to someone who just can’t seem to get it together. Hard work is the magic answer, right? If they’re not getting by and improving their circumstances, it must be their fault. This book brought to light an excellent point about how we almost criminalize those living in poverty. Especially in today’s society where the price of everything keeps going up and the cost of living isn’t doing much better, no wonder it’s hard to get by. When the idea of raising minimum wage to more than I even make an hour right now comes up, I used to think that it’s a bad idea. Naturally, companies aren’t going to take that hit. They’re going to raise prices right along with minimum wage, so it won’t really solve anything. After reading this book, I have to wonder if maybe that’s the best option we have. My degree came from a school that prided itself on the liberal arts, which to me means the ability to entertain other ideas without feeling as if your own are threatened and ultimately coming away with a better understanding or more informed viewpoint. This book did that for me. It’s made me rethink some things, at the very least. I highly recommend for any interested. Fascinating book and relevant to our time.

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