Monday, September 22, 2008


Barbara Ehrenreich is another author who I think has been sneaking peeks at my diary. I'm reading Bait & Switch: The Futile Pursuit of the American Dream, her follow up to Nickel & Dimed. Bait & Switch is like a play-by-play of what I'm going through right now.

One of Ehrenreich's greatest talents as a journalist and non-fiction author is to cut through the bullshit. As part of her "research" for Bait & Switch, she posed as a marketing and events organizer and went on a dozen "job search workshops" -- nearly all of which she had to cry foul on for their doling out of useless self-help cum pop psychology philosophies.

In response to the all-pervasive myth in this country that It's Really All Our Own Fault and We Attract Bad Shit, she had this to say:

What about the child whose home is hit by a bomb? Did she have some bomb-shaped thoughtform that brought ruin down on her head? And did my (job search) boot-camp mates cause the layoffs that drove them out of their jobs by "vibrating" at a layoff-related frequency? It seems inexcusably cruel to tell people who have reached some kind of personal nadir that their problem is entirely of their own making.

Damn skippy.


Jammer said...

I have this, but haven't read it yet. The only problem is that the only people reading her work are people in the situation or people who already agree with her. (or both)

I don't know what the answer to that is, but she's doing the best she can at exposing this at a time when no one else seems to even be trying.

And I bet if you look closely, she used the right form of "whose" in the bolded quote above. :)

And I always thought it was 'damn skippy!'

Anyway -- sorry to hear about your back. That sucks, I know. I was lucky that my job let me take way too many sick days and 'work from home' while my back was screwed. Eventually, I had a couple surgeries and things were much better.

Radiating pain and numbness are the scary symptoms. I hope you're lucky and you can recover just by some flat-on-your-back rest.

Mz M. said...

"The only problem is that the only people reading her work are people in the situation or people who already agree with her."

Hmmm ... I spent a year plus at Boeing and every time I mentioned "Nickel & Dimed", all I got was blank stares. And this latest book, "Bait & Switch", applies directly to the Project Manager crowd I worked with.

I had no idea that "Nickel & Dimed" was turned into a series of improv plays in large cities until I took a class at the Hugo House here back in 2005 and some fellow creative writers (all with at least Master's degrees) started babbling about the "Nickel & Dimed" plays.

I'm becoming more and more a fan of "Bait & Switch" as I read it though doesn't really apply to me. I've never made over $40,000/year in my entire life and doubt I ever will.

But I am trying to feel sympathy for the people in the corner office with the actual window.

troutbirder said...

I also mentioned N&D to several former friends. There response was "what are you trying to do promote class warfare" I think that must be a favorite "talking point" on Fix News.

Mz M. said...

'Class warfare' -- that's hella funny.

Actually Thom Hartmann was just talking about the whole 'Nickel & Dimed' them on his radio show last week. He was quoting some progressive economic book and saying how historically when the labor pool matches the demand for labor, the standard of living and wages always fall thru the floor, which is what we have had in America for a while.