March 3rd, 2015
Compare And Contrast What does it mean to live on minimum wage? I think it means to live at the minimum capacity a human can without dying. The difference of really living or simply surviving. Am I wrong? In the book
Nickel and Dimed,
Barbara Ehrenreich delves into this infinite pit of poverty while introducing herself to the conditions and environment of the minimum wage community and lifestyle. In the second chapter she goes to one of the most publicly assisted states in the entire USA. Maine. 5.2% of maines population is involved in the public assistance program.
Barbara sinks her feet right into this situation to see if she can survive and live comfortably. This raises the question, is minimum wage really livable and why aren't we doing anything about it?
“I chose Maine for its whiteness” Explained Barbara. The predominant race in maine was caucasian, of which is not entirely uncommon in the united states anywhere she would go.
Barbara felt right in place here because she felt accepted by the people and it made it easier for her to infiltrate the low income minimum wage demographic without any questions. Personally I do not know the struggle of growing up on minimum wage, but the rest of my family does quite well. Hearing stories of my dad working trying to support his 2 daughters early and his wife while on minimum wage was very enlightening on the subject. I was told how everything had to
work, there was only one way to survive it and it was living on a budget. “You do not go off the budget” my dad would say. His first job was as an electrician where he made very low wages. He got by, by budgeting. He later went to school for a higher paying job using his same knowledge in the electric field and eventually got a bachelors degree and became an account manager for
Minnesota Electric which is now called Border States.
Nickel and Dimed
Barbara struggles to support only herself living off minimum wage and is forced to do things like live in motels. Her first job in Maine was at a WalMart supercenter. She started at the minimum $6.50 per hour. Even at this time I do not think anybody could live comfortably on only $6.50 an hour and provide for a family on top of that without public assistance. If the minimum wage doesn’t benefit the poor, than who does it benefit? Large corporations with high profit margins who employ minimum wage workers are the only people who benefit from this minimum wage. WalMart for example is one of the largest companies in the world with the highest profits, yet they can't provide a comfortable living wage for its own workers. Growing up my sisters always opted for the cheaper option of everything they would get, at first I did not understand why, but now I know they were just trained to live that way. Frugal and appreciative of what they had and never wished for anything more than that. Even though, I myself did not experience hard times growing up on minimum wage, I quickly adapted the mindset of earning what I got and not needing the best of the best. Although it was hard not to pick every nice toy or video game, I felt good doing it. I felt as if I was helping someone else in someway, and as if the other kid who begs for that brand new toy was hurting someone. I do not
know why I felt this way but I think it was a good thing for me because it taught me how to give, and not have things handed to me.
Later on in my life when I was around twelve years old, my father had a heart attack.
After the heart attack and mini stroke he had an emergency quadruple heart bypass surgery. The surgery would have costed almost $200,000 without insurance, but even after insurance it can add up to be a lot. Also he was out of work for over 6 months for recovery and lost wages, therefore we could not pay our bills and our house was foreclosed on.
In the documentary,