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 High living in Key West 
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I noticed in Nickel and Dimed that the author lived near Key West. A lot different life from her ingnito role in the book. Maybe I'm out of line with my thinking but this kind of social action really irritates me. Whatever happened to real activists like Mother Jones and/or Rosa Parks. What a slap in the face to have some author and activist come in your world for few months, write a best seller, publish articles in a national newspaper, go on a speaking tour; only to go back to Margaritaville and claim how it was all for the good of society! I have a feeling this author's idea of "no shoes, no shirt, no problem..." is a lot different from the reality of the biographies of those in the book. What has come of social action today???

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Heath Belcher


Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:52 pm
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I agree. Barb was a little sarcastic at times in the book. Gotta go.
Why aren't there more social activists?

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Chris McKay

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Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:24 pm
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Health,

I felt the same way reading Shame of the Nation. Any author who writes a book and making millions from it is just another person who is exploiting the poor.

I agree with a lot that Barb said, but I was outraged when she quit her job waiting tables. Every shift I get 3 or 4 tables at one time. This is part of the job and I do the best that I can to keep evreyone happy. i would never walk out on a job. Though, I guess whenever you have a million in the bank, you are not truly invested like a true worker. You are simply acting a role.

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Tim Hoffman


Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:47 pm
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Her job was as a writer. She is trying to call attention to a social problem. If she wanted to make lots of money from a book, she would be better off writing a horror novel or some kind of romance novel. That's where the money is for writers. Just ask Stephen King or Danielle Steel.

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"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." M. Twain


Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:11 pm
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I think tonight's discussion helped me see her as a writer doing original research. I still don't appreciate her writing style, but she had to have some courage to even attempt to go into the restaurant jungle without a full backpack. As she said herself, her skills for the jobs she was attempting were zero. At least there she was playing somewhat fair. The book made me think about the issue.

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Jackie Shaw


Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:35 pm
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She draws her salary as an author but her biography (particularly her early years) is that of social activist....

Co-chair of Democratic Socialists of America http://www.dsausa.org/dsa.html
Founder of United Professionals http://www.unitedprofessionals.org

An interesting, fairly well balanced article that gives some comprehensive biographical history about the woman... which I would argue supports my notion that she is more than just an author; maybe she "moonlights" as a social activist http://www.cjr.org/issues/2003/6/ehren-sherman.asp

AND for her views (ie. real motives) on Christianity http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1374/is_6_59/ai_57800243 from Humanist 1999 titled Everything I Like About Religion I Learned From an Atheist

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Heath Belcher


Wed Feb 28, 2007 10:10 pm
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I also did some background research on Barbara. I am the type of person who listens to all forums, CNN, National Public Radio, Fox News....I like to hear all sides rather it be liberal or conservative. I'm a big fan of Hannity and Colmes.

I'm not really sure if I would read another one of her books. The book called Bait and Switch may be interesting. She does have some strong views on certain subjects. If you are interested check out the following sites.

http://www.cjr.org/issues/2003/6/ehren-sherman.asp
This article provides a little bit about her background

http://www.salon.com/books/feature/1998/04/cov_30feature.html-article "Communism on the Coffee Table"

http://www.salon.com/news/1998/12/cov_1 ... nteresting article on how Barbara thought about the Clinton impeachment that might surprise you

Be assured that I am not a distant relative of the late Joseph McCarthy.
I just like political debate!!

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Chris McKay

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Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:18 pm
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After last nights discussion I still feel she was mocking those with different cultural values. Maybe she was genuine in trying to show the lives of the poor. I still think she missed the true experience with a safety net. I understand that she is a writer but she almost represents herself as a researcher. With all the variable and holes in her research she missed what living like that really feels like not just physically but more importantly emotionally. Her whole experience is through a different set of cultural eyes.

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Jeremiah McCluney


Thu Mar 01, 2007 1:43 pm
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Perhaps that is my true quarrel with the author. I question the credible and ethical means of her research; that is is research for dramatic appeal. I feel that her point could have been just as easily accomplished through interviews and biographies of these workers' lives (which would be as equally interesting and at least real) and with some basic data analysis of the problem (like we looked at in class). Anybody who can add and subtract knows that you can't "get by" on min wage (which she states as her purpose in the book... to see if she could "get by").

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Heath Belcher


Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:00 pm
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I agree Jeremiah, if she had taken an entire year or so ( and I know, who am I to put a time limit on something like that), to really experience living on minimum wage with no safety net, I think her opinions and attitudes would have been different. Maybe worse, maybe better. I still believe it was a fiancial decision to write the book, with undertones of bringing some issues to the front, once again a safety net of a different kind.

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Amy Scronce


Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:01 pm
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Jeremiah - You hit the nail on the head. She was more like a researcher, but her research seemed inadequate. I am worried that the people who she used along the way would feel betrayed by her presentation of their situations. She knew she could walk out on any of these jobs at any time. She cannot truly understand what life is like for a minimum wage worker because she did not live the whole experience. Do they have kids? Are they married? Is there a lot of sickness in the family?

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Amy Hord


Thu Mar 01, 2007 5:39 pm
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So what if Ehrenreich was a social activist! The American and British literatures are filled with writers who would also be considered social activists. Sinclair Lewis, who was also an atheist, was a classic writer and social activist. Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, was a social activist of sorts. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, was a writer and social activist. Charles Dickens often used his fiction to depict the conditions in which the poor found themselves. There are many others. Besides, what is wrong with being a social activist? Writers attempt to use their talent, writing, to move society and people in ways to improve social conditions. While I might hesitate to place Barabara Ehrenreich in the company of the above writers, her purpose is clear: she wanted readers to see the conditions of a group of people in this country who have a difficult time making ends meet. Now we have quibbling over her research methods. Maybe her deceptive means of researching this book is the "unpardonable sin." But I think it strange that suddenly our discussion has turned to critiquing research methodology when no one has questioned the research methods of any other writer we have encountered in the entire MSA program. Perhaps she did write the book to make money.That is what writer's do. I still think, however, if I were going to maximize my profit I would write a horror novel in the tradition of Stephen King or a romance novel like Danielle Steel. Why write a book about so depressing a topic! By the way, Nickel and Dimed was a topic of discussion on Oprah Winfrey's show. She can make a best seller out of the world's most notorious liar (A Million Little Pieces), which goes to show that Ehrenreich probably needs to thank Oprah for her best seller. Maybe, you have a difficult time getting past the fact that Ehrenreich is an atheist? How would that passage about "Visible Christian" have read without this tid-bit in the beginning? At any rate, does her being an atheist have anything to do with the truth that there are working poor out there who have a difficult time of it? It just amazes me that suddenly this particular writer does everything wrong, while all the other works have survived basically without critique of research methods or message. Perhaps you do not believe there are working poor out there. I do. I have learned that I can find value in what all writers have to say. I may not like them as persons. I may not agree with their beliefs. They may even offend me sometimes with what they say. But to me, the greatest books have been those that have slapped me in the face with some truth I had not really seen. Is this one of the those books for me? Not really. But I do think her message about the working poor of this country is true. There is great suffering in this country. Just look at the kids we deal with every day. They have parents who waitress, who work in nursing homes, who clean hotel rooms.

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Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:34 pm
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I second that, John. Though some may disagree with her beliefs, background, comments, and such...the point of the book is to expose (or attempt) what life may be like living off minimum wage to those that are fortunate enough to not have experienced this.
Another point of this book involves the idea of acceptance...As school leaders, we see and deal with many people of different cultures, races, ethnicities, religions, etc...Regardless of our personal beliefs, we have to remain neutral and non-judgemental. We have to see all sides (whether we agree or not) of the situation/issue and not get caught up in personal beliefs.

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Leigh Anne Frye


Mon Mar 05, 2007 3:06 pm
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For me, Leigh Anne, you have shared so eloquently what I have taken from this book. As I have been reading and studying all the books we are responsible for, the underlying theme that has been brought to my attention is in fact the theme of awareness. We need to be aware of all facets, at least as many as possible, of the lives of our students and their families. Most importantly, we do need to remain non-judgmental and not let ourselves be swayed from what is right and best for our students.

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Stephanie Williams


Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:10 pm
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I think the US in need of true activists. As for the writer of this book, I don't consider her activists. I consider her a writer. She did the research and then she wrote about it, and it seems to stop there. Activists contines the fight after the book goes out.


Thu Mar 08, 2007 5:51 pm
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