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With the Grain & Against the Grain - Book Report/Review Example

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With an aim to experience life as a fulltime low wage worker, Ehrenreich set out to see if her low wage income was able to offset her expenses. Millions of Americans work low…
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With the Grain & Against the Grain
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Nickel and Dimed Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich explores life as a minimum wage worker and living on the welfare. With an aim to experience life as a fulltime low wage worker, Ehrenreich set out to see if her low wage income was able to offset her expenses. Millions of Americans work low wage jobs to support themselves. Through Ehrenreich’s experiences it is clear that low income is hardly enough to support basic expenses. To start, low wage life also involves many more trade-offs, particularly concerning convenience in order to make living more affordable (Ehrenreich, 14). Additionally, there is a fair amount of competition in acquiring even a $6 per hour job and employers may keep advertising for openings despite having no free positions. Contrary to normal notions of minimum wage jobs, they require more competence, savviness, and responsibilities. Being a waitress not only means serving customers but also managing the kitchen, stocking, cleaning, and much more (Ehrenreich, 17). Not only does a low wage job involve a lot more workload but it also pays very less than what can support an individual. Enhrenreich’s experience showed that low wage jobs demand much more effort despite being paid peanuts. This is in addition to psychological and emotional costs. Affording healthcare, gas, and a decent housing space is nearly impossible without having to rough with an hourly wage of $6 or $7. Therefore, life as a low income worker is not only hard but also involves massive compromises on convenience and quality of life.
Ehrenreich’s experiences reflect that low wage jobs are generally inconvenient and subpar in comparison to well-paid jobs. Additionally, there are many challenges that relate to one’s race, ethnicity, and language proficiency. However, Ehrenreich failed to consider other critical aspects revolving around the job environment, mainly labor market, economic standing, and competition. Much of the labor market is dependent upon the supply and demand forces of the labor force and this in turn is affected by the overall economic crisis. At times of economic crisis and rising unemployment, labor markets have to accept lower wages per hour. Competition is fierce and more people are willing to accept even the minimum wage just to get a job. Ethics also plays an important role in providing low wage workers with their rights to earn enough so that they can live a quality life. While a large number of low wage jobs are underpaid and involve a huge amount of input, Ehrenreich’s description lacks any references to compensation plans. Many employers pay their employees compensation in addition to their hourly wage. This comes in the form of bonuses and commissions for most low wage workers. Bonuses and commissions are in addition to the base salaries of workers and are present to add to the overall salary of minimum wage workers. Hence, more work can translate to a greater pay. Also, work conditions vary from place to place. Many employers have implemented policies that work in favor of employees. Therefore, low wage jobs are complex to understand without considering the environmental context.
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Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel And Dimed. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2001. Print. Read More
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