American single mother Barbara Ehrenreich has written a great story. Barbara was poor, but she started saving money. This gave her a leg up on other single moms. I like how she describes how people at the bottom of the social ladder, often working poor, are anxious and agitated by social stratification. The socioeconomic position has been found to substantially affect the level of well-being enjoyed by each social group globally. The working poor in industrialized countries has several challenges in earning a good livelihood and moving up the social ladder. This tale inspired me to research the poor working narrative represented by hundreds of urban populations across the U.S. I like how Barbara acknowledges that the working poor in these places has many obstacles to overcome to advance socially. Most of these issues must be addressed to avert future social degeneration.
Her research is based on first-hand experience among the poor working class. Her work reflects the situation of millions of Americans living near or below the poverty line. Reading her book, I understand that Ehrenreich’s purpose was to raise awareness of the struggles of the working poor in America among a middle-class audience. Ehrenreich shares her own experiences while investigating whether or not the working poor in America may aspire and work for a better life (Ehrenreich, 38).
At the book’s publication, Ehrenreich attempted to determine the feasibility of the United States government’s economic reforms, which I recognized. With this project, Ehrenreich sought to determine whether a poor and illiterate American woman could provide for herself and her family while working a minimum wage job. Her goal was considerably more specific in this instance. To see if she could match her income to her spending, like the truly impoverished do daily because Barbara has had “enough unintentional brushes with adversity in her lifetime,” she believes it is not a location she would like to go to for tourism goals. She took on three jobs, which allowed her to get the real-world experience many Americans seek to escape or avoid poverty (38).
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She presents herself as a recently divorced homemaker reentering the workforce to avoid using her actual educational and professional past as a basis for job hunting. Even with this cover, Ehrenreich sees her advantages above the true working poor. Because of her mobility and free lifestyle, she believes she has a better life than most long-term low-wage laborers. She is well aware that her financial condition has temporarily allowed her to live as the working poor in America.
I agree with Barbara that our economy’s dominant structure of low-paying occupations creates poverty, not individuals. That the government’s disinterest in standardizing job conditions and salaries has decreased social mobility is hilarious. Ehrenreich claims that low-wage workers are no less witty or intelligent than writers, proving her claim that low-wage occupations lead to the poorest people in the United States experiencing an economic and social collapse.
I used to think that racial discrimination was a major issue for the working poor. Barbara agrees, stating that racism has always existed in America and exists for millions of individuals regardless of social status. Even among the poor, ignorant whites have an advantage over other races. Barbara is aware of the hazards of racism. She avoids racial prejudice by moving to Portland, Maine, a town with a severe case of population albinism. Aside from ethnicity, I saw Barbara trying to convey that the working poor confront many additional obstacles.
Barbara emphasizes the difficulty of finding and retaining a job. She claims that the American working poor are unable to gain from supply and demand. If so, workers should bargain for pay when demand exceeds supply, unlike in the U.S., where numerous low-end occupations are accessible. This is because the U.S. defies supply and demand, Barbara continues, speaking for the impoverished. Jobs are so cheap that workers are encouraged to take on as many as they can.
Many kinds of research have indicated that the need for the working poor to take on many, if not simply one, of these professions in America often risks their psychological and physical health. Barbara agrees, arguing that paying $5-$6 an hour for demanding jobs with a great danger of repetitive stress damage looks to be a definite way to reject all statistically capable job applicants. Despite the risk of harm, her willingness to labor stems from a sense of necessity: theirs is a world of agony, and Excedrin and Advil are the only medications to alleviate it. Aside from physical hardship, the working poor have several characteristics in common. I agree with Barbara when she says that it takes more than one person to provide for a family in today’s economy.
It is sad to realize from Barbara’s story that a poor working individual in the United States can only pay the minimum living expenditures. Working poor Americans are often obliged to work multiple minimum wage jobs to meet these necessities. This practice typically deteriorates their physical and mental health, affecting their capacity to work and forcing them to work less or abandon the job altogether, contributing to their downward mobility.
I love how Barbara goes about different issues in different places. While in Portland, Ehrenreich investigates one of the numerous challenges that the underclass of working people in America are confronted with: housing. While hunting for work in Portland, the author realizes that housing costs are the impediments that keep the poor poorer in America. According to Ehrenreich, the housing issue is one of the major difficulties facing the poor in America (40). The author sympathizes with the housing condition in the United States of America. This demonstrates how quickly the impoverished in America can get poorer if they do not select the lowest solutions, even if they are dangerous and inadequate in terms of quality.
It is disheartening to learn from the book that a developed nation like the U.S living in motels is one of the alternatives to affordable housing. This is a mess, as Ehrenreich witnessed it and determined that surviving through motels cannot be a viable alternative for anyone trying to balance minimum wage workers with necessities. There are two types of hotel rooms: sterile and clean and those left to fester with cigarette butts, carpet stains, and Dorito crumbs buried under the bed.
Calculating simply the aforementioned monthly expenses, excluding necessities like food, shows that a single parent with two children cannot exist on a job paying the bare minimum. Working full-time minimum wage and part-time minimum wage jobs is what a single parent needs to earn just over the poverty level, but not enough to live comfortably (43).
Reiterating Ehrenreich’s findings in her book, it is clear that the daily struggles of the working poor, especially those from single-parent households, are extremely tough to overcome. Because of these restrictions, not only are the working poor confined to the same social class, but they are also prevented from ever-increasing social standing. I liked Barbara’s tale but was disappointed that she did not spend more time with youngsters. Barbara knew what it was like to be poor, yet she set aside a certain amount of money to start. This offered her an edge over other single mothers. This project gave me a glimpse into the lives of most servers and housekeepers. It is easy to get a waiter or housekeeper job because the work requires no expertise. Barbara struggled to find work owing to a shortage of jobs, not a lack of skills. She says, “I could not do a job as physically demanding as a waiter or a janitor. I admire those who do these jobs.”
Reading about Barbara’s experiences as a waiter was heartbreaking. Barbara’s expenses did not cover daycare or child care. Although there is social support for childcare, it might not be easy to obtain. Barbara seldom had time to herself in the afternoon, and having kids would make it even harder. Barbara met folks with heartfelt stories. From this narration, I learned that it is not always about your work but your effort. Even if your job is not always appreciated, remember you need it to survive. The book also reminds us that a single mother does what she must because things are tough. The moral lesson here is that our tough living situations frequently lead us to condemn lone mothers. But we never know their background. Many single mothers escape abusive marriages with no money. So, their living conditions are less than optimal.