Who is she?
Barbara Ehrenreich is an American author and investigative journalist, who wrote the 2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.
Barbara went ‘undercover’ to write the book, working as a waitress, hotel maide, house cleaner, Wal-Mart clerk and nursing home aide. The result is an amazing expose of the hardship of life as a low-paid worker in the US (and most of those jobs are done by women).
The book was Barbara’s reaction to the political rhetoric at the time, which pushed for people to ‘lift themselves out of poverty’ using low-paid jobs.
Nickel and Dimed was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential non-fiction books. She also wrote Smile or Die, which lambasted the ‘pink ribbon’ culture of breast cancer (she was herself diagnosed with the disease).
Why should we thank her?
Barbara’s investigative journalism has exposed a range of important issues and Nickel and Dimed was a highly influential book which spoke to the very real struggles of the working poor in the US.
“The “working poor,” as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.”