Books

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I just finished Nickel and Dimed - On (not) getting by in America (author : Barbara Ehrenreich) and it was certainly an interesting read. The one problem I had was accepting it as real - not that I doubt the reality depicted in it - but it's so far from the world I know and live in, that it almost seems impossible. But apparently it's not and millions of people live that life day after day. A couple of things struck me though :

- a job is not always a guarantee for a better life. In fact, often jobs are sometimes even used against the mass, to keep them poor. That's because the money earned does not compare to the investements needed to work the job (housing, food, travel expenses) and while not setting people back each day, they stay at a standstill or very slowly improve their situation until something trivial knocks that improvement right back again. They are truely slaves to the system and giving up the job(s) they have is not an option, yet not a way out either. The future doesn't look bright.

- employees do evertyhing in their power to prevent social powers to gather and work together. Unions are not forbidden but presented by the employers in such a way that they seem to work against the employees instead of for them. This is only possible because the employees become totally dependent on the corporation they work for, and are indoctrinated by those same corporate powers. As long as they can't step out of the corporate grasp and reach, they are unable to see the bigger picture and rise up against it. Allow me to quote from Nickel and Dimed :

"I was baffled, initially, by what seemed like a certain lack of get-up-and-go on the part of my fellow workers. Why didn't they just leave for a better-paying job, as I did when I moved from Heartside's to Jerry's? Part of the answer is that actual humans do experience a little more friction than marbles do, and the poorer they are, the more contrained their mobility usually is. Low-wage people who don't have cars are often dependent on a relative who is willing to drop them off and pick them up again each day, sometimes on a route that includes the babysitter's house or the child care center. Change your place of work and you may be confronted with an impossible topographical problem to solve, or at least a reluctant drive to persuade."

"But there are no Palm Pilots, cable channels or Web sites to advise the low-wage worker. They have only the Help Wanted signs and the want ads to go on, and most of these coyly refrain from mentioning numbers. So information about who earns what and where has to travel by worth of mouth, and for inexplicable cultural reasons, this is a very slow and unreliable route."

I suggest you pick up this book if you've got the chance and the time to read it. Why? Because there is only one solution to improve living standards for everyone, both low-wage and (the quickly vanishing) middle-class workers : information and education. One cannot benefit and make rational choices if one doesn't know about them.

Mind you, this is not a rant against America - even though this book specifically deals with the situation in the USA - but many of the situations depicted in this work are occuring internationally as well. Maybe a little less extreme, but unless we open up and allow ourselves to see what is happening, we will not be able to prevent them and end up in a similar world where our economies are basically running on slave labor.

I'm giving away 2 copies of "Nickel and Dimed" to people that would otherwise not have the chance to buy and read the book. Since I'm fully aware that low-wage workers usually have no internet access, hence they don't read this themselves, my regular audience is not the target group for this giving away of books. However, I'll be using you to do the work for me. Apply for one of the 2 copies I'm giving away, by sending me your full name, address and country. Let me know when you've received the book and when you're done reading it. Then pass it on to someone else - preferably someone who otherwise wouldn't have access to this book. Ask them to pass it on when they're done reading it, etc. Sounds difficult? It's not, believe me.

8 Comments

That's a great idea, ServMe!
One question: is it written in English? probably, as it doesn't sound like a book that might get translated any time soon. (especially not in Dutch)
ah well, for me it's not a problem, but it does limit the number of people you can give it to in our country...

Yes, the book is in English and I'll be sending out English copies of it as well.

I was not really thinking about Belgian people to apply for a free copy - due to both the language barrier for most, as well due to the focussing on the USA - but everyone is free to take their chance.

However, if people that have english as their native language apply, and they live in the US, Canada, UK etc, I'll probably send the books their way since there's a larger chance of them successfully spreading the book and the information contained in it.

FYI, this book does exist in dutch as well, in case there are dutch-speaking people interested. It is releashed in january 2005 and the title in dutch is: 'de achterkant van de Amerikaanse droom'(reference/isbn: 9045008998). I think I'm gonna borrow it from the library, it seems a very interesting book. But reading it in English: I'm afraid it's gonna be too technical, so I prefer the dutch version for this (although a translation is never the same as the original)!

Good to know that, thanks Marianne!

yes please.....

Joco, you know someone to pass this on too, preferably a native english speaker, that makes a low wage (somewhere under $9 an hour)? If so, let me know and you're on.

eef:speaks english, doesn't earn a dollar a month ;)
dutch collegues: earn not a lot of money (i earn it all) and they intend to think they understand english

further on: last week i earned nothing , and i"m almost a native english speaker, who's really intrested in the book

Nice try Joco, but you really don't qualify for this give-away. I'll gladly lend you my personal copy of the book though.

NOTE : All copies have been claimed (through another community I participate in) and a total of 4 books are being send out.

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This page contains a single entry by ServMe published on March 28, 2005 8:12 AM.

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