Comments

1
Welcome to America...

BTW, remember Bradley Manning.
2
Totally stupid, yet if this brief controversy gets people reading her book so much the better. Attitude schmattitude, she's the one who made the effort.
3
Which "civil right" is it that provides all citizens with legal protections against getting their feelings hurt?
4
A little harsh to say the kid is "getting the home schooling he deserves." If a gay child buys into his parents' homophobia is he getting the ex-gay camp he deserves?
5
It's only ignorant stereotyping when they do it. When Paul Constant does it, it's witty commentary.
6
They use the phrase 'civil rights' but they have no idea what it means. It makes a mockery of every struggle for civil rights in the world. If they were capable of it, I would say they should be ashamed of themselves.
7
"Pulled out of school at his request..." That's a slick move, kid, a very slick move.
8
If they're going to assign that book in personal finance, I hope they point out all the ways the author was incredibly stupid about how to be poor - insisting on having her own apartment, not buying clothes from Goodwill, etc. Learning how to manage your money at any income level is useful and freeing.
9
Enh, "wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist" sounds about right, Although I'm not entirely convinced Barbara Ehrenreich fully understands what "precocious" means. Or "socialist." Actually, fuck it, I'mma fix this.

"Jesus Christ was a wine-guzzling vagrant and unabashed communist."

Okay, that's a little better, though it doesn't fully capture his raging iconoclasm or deep-seated anti-establishment bent. Anyway, my point isn't not betraying the spirit of Jesus' depiction in the gospels, despite Ms. Ehrenreich's tenuous grasp of the English language.
10
Aside from the complete mis-understanding of "civil rights," any fool who can be bothered to actually read the damn Bible knows that Ehrenreich's summary is a little inflammatory but basically accurate.

Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Matthew 19:21

"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." When the righteous answered "when did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?" Jesus answeres, "as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." Matthew 25:37-40

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." But wisdom is proved right by all her children. Luke 7:34-35

If the shoe fits, "Christians," then fucking well wear it.
11
"wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist."


Jeez. Some people can't take a compliment.
12
The book should be challenged due to its irrelevancy to personal finance, not for Barbara Ehrenreich's writing. If I had input for the Bedford High School personal finance curriculum I'd go with Amelia Warren Tyagi and Elizabeth Warren's All Your Worth and Andrew Tobias's The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need. Maybe The Complete Tightwad Gazette edited by Amy Dacyczyn.
13
This is a really good book, and for those of you who think Barbara Ehrenreich was foolish for insisting on having her own apartment and not buying clothes from Goodwill, remember she was a middle-class woman who had no idea what she was getting into, and documented countless examples of the working poor living in over-crowded conditions. No, the book isn't perfect, but it goes a long way toward helping middle-class people understand the struggles of the working poor.

As far as the school is concerned, I can understand how a hard-core Christian would be upset with the "mockery" of her lord that the book contains. However, it is such a minor aside, I can't imagine why somebody would cling to something so trivial. More than likely, her son thought it was funny when he read that, showed it to her, and she got upset, thinking the book was full of that kind of sentiment.

As an English teacher, I include warnings in syllabi that sometimes readers will come across content that they find "challenging" (i.e., offensive), but that it is being viewed in an academic context, and parents can voice their concerns at any time. I never said that I'd not use a book in class due parental objections, but I would explain why a book was being read.

I never heard from any parents about offensive content, thankfully, so I never had to go through this kind of controversy. However, the year before I started teaching, Beloved was banned from a high school classroom in my district because of a scene about bestiality, of all things (worried kids will try it at home?). These kinds of controversies are way more common than they should be.
14
Paul Constant probably doesn't like Nickel and Dimed because the Stranger pays low wages. I thought it was a good book.
15
Wait, are they saying HE wasn't a "wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist."??? Damn, I had it wrong all this time?
16
@13,

Are you serious? If Ehrenreich doesn't understand such basic principles of stretching a dollar as roommates and thrift stores, she must come from some serious money. Hell, I come from money, and I still had to slum it in college and my early 20s.
17
@8
Damn straight, and then she "gave" herself a newer car that worked well. I could go on...
18
I had to read Nickel and Dime in a college freshman English class.I found her tone to be condescending as well. My bourgeois TA disagreed with my conclusion and gave me a B.
19
Yeah, I'm sure that was the reason you got a B.
20
Every time I'm reminded this book exists, I have to stop myself from going into anger spasms. Seriously, as someone who was poor growing up, her book is uninformed trash. She never gets a clue and never wants to. There are so many things she does wrong that her book is worth very little in terms of seeing how the working class live.
21
Found it illuminating and informative, learned a lot--am certain it isn't an "authentic" account of living in the poor, working class.

Let's reserve our ire for the people protesting the book, and not the author whose whole purpose is garnering empathy and advocacy for poor and working people, shall we?

I understand your quibbles with the book, but damn...she's actually trying to do something about poverty, and she's a nationally acclaimed author and journalist, so she has my respect.
22
I didn't feel like she had any empathy for us poor folks. Yes, I still count myself among them. I'm only in college and I actually do work at Wal-Mart, so I'm not out yet. She points out dental problems, obesity, and everything else with malice and without understanding how we get there and never wanting to understand that. I'm lucky that I had great parents who made sure I had good things by scrimping on themselves, but most of the kids I grew up with didn't have that. They're painfully embarrassed by their teeth, obesity, or ignorance, but they feel powerless to stop it. A $1 cheeseburger at McDonald's seems like a better deal than a $1 for an apple when you're poor and need a quick bite to eat before work. They're limited by their jobs' insurances or incomes and also by the amount of hours required by their job(s), so they have almost no time to devote to additional education. I could go on and on, but won't (a shift at Wal-Mart calls). Suffice to say, her style and tone show her beliefs that she's above us and show her contempt and condescension for us. Working class folks know when people believe they're better than us. We can see it in words, tones, eyes, the way someone never quite wants to touch you when you hand their change back. We're poor, not stupid (and most of us are Democrats, thanks).

I liked the premise of the book. I just feel like she was too caught up in her own premise, biases, or cleverness (oh look, bad teeth, *giggle giggle*) to really do anything she may have set out to do, except perhaps confirm her own biases. She almost gets there, but she never quite has any revelations that tell her anything of value, anything she couldn't have read in a sociological journal or book. If anyone's going to reveal the working class to those above us, it sure ain't gonna be her.
23
Those are all fair challenges to the book. I didn't read it the way you did, in terms of interpreting her description of the poor in condescending terms. If anything, I thought she was empathetic with poor people, and detailed a lot of the practical obstacles people have in terms of earning enough money for adequate housing, and having to work multiple jobs in order to earn enough to make ends meet. She also did a good job describing what it's like to do these kinds of jobs--working as a waitress at a cheap restaurant, cleaning people's houses, and working at Wal-Mart (which, if I remember, she couldn't handle for more than a couple of shifts).

I work with poor people a lot as a teacher, and it's very upsetting to see smart kids who work very hard get caught up in obstacles that middle-class people don't struggle with to the same degree, if at all. Very young pregnancies, gang violence/involvement, inadequate nutrition and shelter, and a lot of systemic problems that few people can overcome.

I don't think a person who grew uip poor is going to read this book the same way as someone who is raised middle-class (and really, what's the reason to if you're living this life every day already?).

Are there any books written by poor people about life in the poor, working classes that you'd recommend instead? I feel like all of the books I've read about poor people are published by Ivy League publishing houses or middle-class people who became involved in the struggles of the poor.

Please wait...

and remember to be decent to everyone
all of the time.

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