An article in today’s Morning Call detailed the attempts of a group of people in Easton to have Nickel and Dimed, a book by Barbara Ehrenreich, removed from the school’s reading list. In the book Ehrenreich details her adventures working in minimum wage jobs such as waitress, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and a salesperson at Wal-Mart.
Ehrenreich assumed that she would spend her money wisely. She was an experienced economist, and she would do ok. What she soon realized was that people working without a union at a dead end job with no benefits were caught in an endless cycle of living from payday to payday, a paycheck away from being homeless.
The book was one of the best I have ever read on life at the bottom of the economic scale, and I learned a great deal. For example, why do so many of the working poor live in run-down motels paying week to week? Surely this is not a good economic strategy. Ehrenreich explains that to move into an apartment, you often need first and last month’s rent. At a minimum wage job, there is no way to accumulate that amount of money.
The people who complained about the book brought up all kinds of irrelevant arguments, but I am sure their real objective was to stop kids from reading about life on the bottom. It doesn’t fit with the Romney-Santorum view of Americans living in prosperity.
Hats off to the Easton School Board, which listened to the students who defended the book. Another positive is that more people became aware of the book and now might read it. It is available in paperback.