Barbara Ehrenreich in her book Nickel and Dimed provides an argument on low wage workers stating that they face many difficulties ranging from the high costs of shelter to food. She supports this argument by pointing to the fact that low wage employees are forced to buy more expensive food that is not healthy as compared to the food they could have bought if in possession of refrigerators and other electric appliances that are used in cooking. To add on, they spend much money on accommodation in hotels as they cannot afford to pay for the rental deposits and bills. In particular, she focuses on the various social issues faced by low wage workers. While Ehrenreich attempts to present the plight of low wage workers, her arguments are irrelevant, inaccurate, and ineffective because she falsely associates these workers with only unskilled labor, utilizes exaggerations, and also points to a high dependence of the workers on the government.
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Ehrenreich’s argument about the living and working conditions of low wage workers is inaccurate because both skilled and unskilled workers could work for low wages. From personal knowledge, it is not entirely right to make an assertion that low wage jobs are only meant for individuals with unskilled labor. This is because there are various highly skilled individuals working as low wage employees due to the lack of white color jobs (Ehrenreich 126). The high rate of unemployment in the nation is another reason that forces individuals to work as low wage workers. Furthermore, no particular job, regardless of the type of payment received by the employee, requires unskilled workers. Every job opportunity calls for specific knowledge and skills. However, those who might not agree with this argument would state that skills are the key to high-paying jobs while the lack of skills is a direct ticket to low wages. Despite her assertion that the highly skilled managers provide a bad working environment for the low wage employees by making unnecessary changes to the routine without informing the employees apart from forcing them to undertake pointless tasks, it is not true to jump to the conclusion that these employees are not skilled (Ehrenreich 134). In particular, in the current world, managers use various styles of leadership with regard to the employees in the possession of similar knowledge and skills as them. Apart from this, not all managers treat their employees unfairly. Some managers provide their employees with an opportunity to participate in the process of management by including them in crucial decision-making processes in the organization. To add on, in some organizations, low wage employees work in good working environments with reward incentives from their managers. In this regard, Barbara Ehrenreich provided a biased argument, which is not entirely valid.
Additionally, Ehrenreich exaggerates and embellishes her arguments by presenting a biased attitude with regard to the issue of food and shelter where she extensively exaggerates the plight of the workers (Ehrenreich 168). This is because, if low wage workers are paid little money, it would be difficult to understand how they manage to buy expensive food and sleep in hotels daily. From personal experience, some of the foods that are bought by low wage workers do not require refrigerators as well as electric appliances for them to be cooked. To add on, with regard to shelter, there are affordable houses that low wage workers can afford to pay for according to their financial conditions. Thus, living in an affordable house is more convenient and cheaper as compared to sleeping in a hotel daily as the latter takes much money. Therefore, this provides an implication that the author fails to provide objective evidence concerning her arguments in the book. Opposing views to this argument would state that low wages do not necessarily imply that one would not have the opportunity to enjoy different pleasures of life such as access to a quality shelter. Furthermore, her book makes an attempt to transform the social consciousness of the reader with regard to low wage employment/low wage workers by asserting that low wage workers will one day rise and make demands for being treated fairly so that the life of every individual will be better (Ehrenreich 178). From personal knowledge, this can be seen in the current world whereby low wage employees are standing up for their rights and demanding better pay and improved treatment in the workplace. The book arouses the readers’ consciousness urging them to fight for improved living standards and living conditions.
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It is also crucial to note that some of Ehrenreich’s arguments are not relevant and accurate as she asserts that low wage workers are the recipients of various governments and charitable services such as food and welfare as well as health services. However, this is not the case because many individuals, who are not necessarily low wage workers in the United States, depending on the government for the provision of crucial services such as health services. Moreover, low wage workers do not necessarily receive charitable services. That is, in case of calamities such as floods and terror attacks, every individual is prone to receive charitable services such as food donations and the donation of funds and food for the victims (Ehrenreich 166). However, those who oppose this argument would emphasize that low wage workers are the most vulnerable and depend on government services all the time. Thus, it is entirely vague to provide an argument that low wage workers live at the mercy of the government providing health services. In particular, there are clearly spelt rules and regulations that govern the provision of health services in the United States. In line with Medicaid and Medicare, low wage workers can also subscribe to health services by using the latter. She makes an assertion that personality tests, as well as questionnaires, are used in weeding out the potential employees that are incompatible as they deter them from applying for the jobs. However, this is not the case as personality tests are used in testing the eligibility of individuals for employment opportunities (Ehrenreich 155). Nevertheless, she is right to make an assertion that low wages are not enough to take proper care of an entire family. In this respect, she provides objective support for this argument by claiming that the stagnant low wages cannot be sufficient for increasing housing finances. This point is agreeable because inflation is experienced by every individual in the society. Therefore, with stagnant low wages, low wage workers cannot be in a position to take care of the varied needs of their families. Managers should consider making pay rises to the low wage workers for the latter to effectively and efficiently take care of each need of their families.
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In conclusion, in her book Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich provides an insight into the life of low wage workers by making various arguments concerning the lives of these individuals; however, she fails to present a relevant and accurate account of the workers’ conditions. Despite the fact that she tries to support her arguments with evidence, the level of accuracy is still low. Apart from this, she makes an exaggeration of some arguments and even presents some false arguments. From a general perspective, every employment opportunity calls for the possession of the skills that are required for a particular job. Thus, it is not accurate to assert that low wage workers are unskilled. Furthermore, various factors, such as, for instance, unemployment, contribute to individuals opting for low wage employment opportunities. Conclusively, the arguments that are made by the author in the book are not fully accurate and relevant.