Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hand To Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America

It's no surprise to me that Hand to Mouth's forward is written by Barbara Ehrenreich the author of Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America.

Tirado knows from firsthand experience that it is pretty easy to not get by in America.

Tirado writes of her personal experiences working minimum wage jobs, two jobs at a time, jobs without benefits, and jobs with bad hours.  Turns out this is fairly common.

And Tirado's experience as the working poor isn't a result of a poor work ethic or lack of intelligence.  It seems that bad luck is something that she is close friends with.

When her apartments floods and her landlord's idea of fixing the problem is allowing mold to visibly grow on the wall, she and her husband find themselves homeless as she is expecting their first child.  Already barely getting by, this is the event that pushes them over the edge.

A victim of a car accident that shattered her jaw, Tirado has severe dental problems.  Is it surprising that the person who hit her car was driving drunk with a suspended license and there isn't any money to be had to pay for her dental work that is necessary?  So Tirado lives in excruciating pain, embarrassed by her teeth.

There are plenty more examples Tirado gives of what she has experienced in her lifetime.  But all of these experiences do not make her less of a person than people with money.

Tirado's book is a rant of sorts to readers who may never have considered what it really is like to be poor, to work in poor conditions for little money, or have considered that these people, despite their economic difficulties, have the same hopes and dreams as the rest of society, and a right to have them as well.

There are a few issues where I don't entirely agree with Tirado. However, overall, she does a great job of explaining the issue of poverty and making up the segment of our population considered the working poor.  And, I do agree that the fact that we as a nation sit and watch these people struggle without any regard for our fellow man or willingness to help out and put ourselves out there, doesn't say much about us as people.

Hand To Mouth is a book that should be a must read for college students (as long as they are mature enough to handle the profanity); it is worth every bit of time spent reading.

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