Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nickel and Dimed at Dartmouth

Last evening, the Ethics Institute and the Dartmouth Centers Forum hosted a public lecture by Barbara Ehrenreich, "Working for Change," based on her book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

She's a compelling story teller. Here's an example of something that I had not previously appreciated--paying rent. For the working poor, the monthly payment isn't the only or even the main challenge. Coming up with the first and last month's payments is more than most can manage. So this puts them into a different type of housing--the residential motel, which is less cost effective but allows more of a day-to-day payment. These facilities often lack a refrigerator and a microwave, which in turn means that nutrition suffers as well, with fast food taking the place of better meals. Problems cascade, and keeping it all together becomes more of a struggle, to say nothing of actually getting ahead. The Dartmouth has more of a recap of her talk.

She's also an occasional blogger. Here's her rather unconventional take on the economic stimulus plan, from a month ago.


DWAnderson said...

There is an interesting counter to Nickel and Dimed in the form of Adam Shepard's Scratch Beginnings. See http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0211/p13s02-wmgn.html

Anonymous said...

Adam Shepard was a young, handsome (athlete), healthy single male (no children) with excellent communication and analytical skills (he didn't mention the bachelor's degree but once a person has a good education it can't be removed).

In my experience with working poor, many struggle due to chronic health problems (and no insurance, and if course this leads to continual inability to pay medical bills), children to support and no extended family network to fall back on, poor English skills, and lower executive thinking skills. Adam Shepard had none of these handicapping conditions. Neither did Ehrenreich for that matter.