The Working Poor

While I was in the States in the summer of 2006, my husband’s aunt gave me a copy of The Working Poor by David Shipler. The book’s title immediately caught my eye as I had experienced this: working seven days a week, but cereal for dinner.

The book brought back so many memories about working and trying to live with minimum wages. Twice I had lived in the States and most times I worked three jobs just to pay the bills, but could not afford to see a doctor. I was one of the 45 million people living in the U.S. without health insurance. While I was in the U.S. and working more than full-time hours, there was no way to take a holiday. Minimum wage earners have no paid vacations and bills needed to be paid. But as soon as I moved OUT of the United States, I would make enough money to be able to afford a holiday/family visit in the United States. Sounds unbelievable?

Shipler cites many cases and he researched his topic very carefully. He also interviewed people from all walks of life (Korean immigrants to the U.S., WASPS, African-Americans, etc.) He gives a very true account what life is like for people only earning minimum wages. This should be made mandatory reading in all high schools across the United States and overseas. It would be a real eye-opener to anyone – even to Americans, who live a middle-class life, in their middle-class suburb, separated by districts and private schools from all this poverty.

Seeing abject poverty in an industrialized country is much more shocking than finding the same situation in a Less Economically Developed Country (LEDC).

Another article he wrote is Let’s Manage Our Immigrants

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