the working poor

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“The working poor, as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society.” (Ehrenreich 221)

 This quote stood out to me because it shows what a struggle it is to work low wage jobs and still raise a family. “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.” (221)

They give up many freedoms and happiness to survive. Unless you’ve lived through it, it can be hard to put yourself in these working poor’s shoes. “To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor to everyone else.”(pg 221)


Angela Palumbo said:

This is such a strong message. I completely agree that the poor have to give up a lot for the sake of the rest of us. I actually wrote about this type of thing on Juliana's blog. Check it out!

Greta Carroll said:

You make a good point, and it is very hard for them. However, I don’t most of the poor working class necessarily are thinking of the good they are doing for others. Nor do I think they neglect their children to help others. These people are trying to survive. They may help others, but they are not looking at it that way. They don’t become a housecleaner thinking “Oh yes, I am going to help these people so much by keeping their house clean!” They are just doing what they can to get by. They “endure” and do these things because they have no other choice.

Richelle Dodaro said:

I don't think that the working poor get any real enjoyment out of what they're doing. They are simply trying to get by in their life. They should be appreciated though because they're the core of the upper classes thriving and enjoying life. We get to go to restaurants, take a quick trip to the nearest Wal-Mart for a cheap-priced item, and we don't have to clean our own homes. This is difficult I think because our society is stuck in this idea that these jobs are for dumb and lazy people, which is completely false.

Erica Gearhart said:

I think the whole point of Ehrenreich's argument here is that the "working poor" do not know what they do for others, or better yet, the "others" don't realize exactly what the working poor do for them. These are the people who do the jobs that no one else will take because of the lousy pay, abysmal working conditions, or lack of benefits. Although I don't think at we in the middle and upper-middle class are at all better than any of them, I would like to know how many of us would choose to work at Wal-mart or as a cleaning lady after we graduate from college? They do these jobs because someone has to do them, and this is all that they know or choose to know. Or, they are desperate to support a family or themselves and can find nothing better. I think that what Ehrenreich is really trying to say is that we as non-working class people need to take a better look at their positions and contributions to the community and appreciate all that they do.

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Recent Comments

Erica Gearhart on the working poor: I think the whole point of Ehr
Richelle Dodaro on the working poor: I don't think that the working
Greta Carroll on the working poor: You make a good point, and it
Angela Palumbo on the working poor: This is such a strong message.