Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America Essay

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Quiz Questions

1. Ehrenreich as a journalist decides to try to survive on minimum wage; which of the following is true about her attempt to achieve this:

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She takes $5000 with her for expenses and simply documents the amount of money she makes at each job
She works only in the state of Florida in both high and low income areas to compare the difference.
She takes a modest amount of money to start with and tries to “get by” on her wages made in Florida, Maine, and Minnesota.
She completes her study after a full one year of work.

2.  Ehrenreich treats this experience as any good journalist would, but there are other important approaches she takes as well.  Which one of the following is true?

She donates money to charity
She visits a homeless shelter to interview people.
She writes a letter to the editor of a Florida paper to complain about poor working conditions.
She befriends and tries to help many of her co-workers in the best way she can.

3.  Anonymity is very important to Ehrenreich, which of the following is true about how she conducts herself.

A.    She changed her style of dress to fit the perception of a person is poverty.

B.     She made up stories about her children and told people that they had to go live with relatives because she could not afford to support them.

C.     She walked to and from her jobs to show that she was too impoverished to afford a car.

D.    She only broke anonymity once and admitted that she was an uncover journalist while she worked at the maid service.

Short Answer:

Name and explain at least three of the social issues that were uncovered in the book:

One issue is the problem that low-income workers face in finding affordable housing.  They sometimes face issues with inflation in the market and rents can go up at any time forcing some to be evicted.  Many people become transient and move from place to place and this also makes keeping employment harder, especially if this is coupled with transportation issues.

Another issue is lack of benefits or health insurance.  Many low wage jobs are physically demanding and many of those in poverty are also in poor health.  They also may risk losing their jobs if they cannot work due to illness or if they have to care for a sick family member.

Finally, the consensus by many people that do not understand this type of lifestyle is that the poor are lazy and this perception of people struggling to make it, makes it harder for them to gain any type of respect or self-esteem.

(other issues that were exposed may be used, as well)

Talk about how managers and those in corporate positions created issues with workers’ self-esteem and with their relationships.

Walmart was particularly bad about keeping workers happy with working at WalMart but unhappy with other aspects of their lives.  Psychological and personality tests were forced on incoming employees and workers there were constantly berated for “time theft” which could be anything from talking to customers or other associates to not appearing busy even when there was no work to be done.  Employees were not supposed to fraternize with one another or talk badly about the store for risk of losing hours or losing their job completely.  Therefore these workers felt bad about themselves and could not share those feelings with others.

(the authoritarianism displayed by bosses at other jobs that created or perpetuated low self-esteem and self-worth can be discussed here also)