|Categories:||American dream American literature|
The Working Poor is a book written by David Shipler, outlining the challenges that are faced by American people all over the country as they strive to reach their own version of the American dream, or as the author may refer to it, the American Myth. In the book, the lives of different American people are sampled, where they have to live from hand to mouth despite their hard work and input towards providing a better livelihood. Instances of people who are working two jobs, people waking up at 4 or 5 am to go to work for hours on end or graduates living in their parents house basement are analyzed for the ability for persons to achieve this dream. This paper is the analysis of different interviews reacting to the Working Poor.
Marilyn Lombardo Interview
In one of the interviews, Marilyn Lombardo was interviewed. As an elderly person, she is one of the people you would expect would be enjoying the benefits of retirement such as catching up with kids and grandchildren as well as a lot of traveling to parts of the world that she has dreamed about. However, this is not the case in many American elderly people as they are forced to continue working past retirement age simply because they have not made enough money in the course of their lives. Marilyn Lombardo was at her wits end when she had $24 and no source of income at age 62. With sever medical conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia; there was reason to be worried if she could not get some earnings. Furthermore, she was a woman with many responsibilities such as baby sitting her grandnephew.
Despite her age, she has to do something since she also lives with her 94-year-old mother, who also recently moved in with her with no apparent reason. Working for her daughter, she often finds that the baby sitting job is a blessing in disguise, despite the work of raising a 17-month old baby. There is often a lot of work involved, but Marilyn believes that she can either do this or lie down and die. Her mother depends on her working so that there is breakfast on the table. Her disability fund enables her to obtain more earnings from it. So she has two credit cards and uses a borrow from Peter to pay Paul approach to manage her expenses. At the beginning of the month, she will have funds on one account which she will put the bills on. At the end of the month, she will use the money paid out on the other card to pay off the debt on the first card. There is no money to spare at the end of the day (Bull, 2013).
This shows the effect of the American depression as it was. Marilyn notes that she lost a lot of money in 2009 so that she lost the majority of her 401k during this time. When her bosss investment didnt pan out, she got a remuneration of only $6,000 as opposed to the expected $36,000 she had expected ad she had lost her job. Since then, she has had to live from hand to mouth to feed herself, and now her elderly mother.
Interview with Bridget
The American perception of prosperity will often rest on the idea that people who may not afford to have the luxuries of prosperity are those who dropped out of high school or didnt go on to college. However, this is not usually the case. For Bridgett Gibbons, she has not been able to find work after completing her English degree from Kent College. She has since decided to go back to school and get more education as a way to diversity and possibly find better options pending the re-development of the economic situation. She had initially gone to law school, but stopped going after one and a half years because of the economic downturn that put thousands of lawyers out of work. She decided to pursue nuclear medicine at school something that at least is looking up in the future. At age 30, she cannot afford to live in her own house because of the little that she earns. She thus has to live in her parents basement while the rest of her things are in the garage. She can only hope that things become better in the next 5 to 10 years.
For Bridget, being a graduate means that she could be able to afford her own living by now. However, she doesnt have enough money to pay for expenses beyond her food and her mobile phone usage, let alone rent and other luxuries. Its also very hard for her to find employment at minimum wage locations such as Wal-Mart or some other similar establishment because they dont think she has the stamina to do such jobs, seeing how she is a graduate. Furthermore, she often gets the looks when she goes to food stamp areas because she doesnt seem to look like the kind who would need such aid (Bull, 2013).
The Working Poor, therefore, samples the life of a graduate student who has challenges despite the academic achievement to show the extent to which the economic downturn has affected different members of society all over the United States.
Interview with Brushawn
Brushawn is a gentleman who has had to work two jobs in order to make ends meet. Before he was convicted in 2008, he used to earn $8,000 a month. But after he was released four years down the line, the car dealership that he used to manage was going out of business because of the recession. People were no longer buying cars the way they used to, especially when they had their homes to worry about. With a felony and conviction in his record, it was hard to get a job, what with the perceptions that people have concerning people with criminal records. Therefore, he had to just make sure that he had to make ends meet. Now he works two jobs: one at Green City Growers, where he clocks in at 6 am and goes off at 2.30. Soon after at 3.30, he has to report to his other job with Metal Fabricators, where he is a metal handler and give it till 7.30pm.
His day is definitely packed when he has his daughter to think about. Making up for her is the best thing that he could do now since hadnt seen her for four years during his incarceration. With no alternative sources of income, he has to try all he can in order to make ends meet. This is another example of the working poor in the US and how they try to make ends meet. He says that the perception that people have of him is often unfavorable because of the nature of job he does, and sometimes after work he may not look so presentable. But it is what he has to do. Nonetheless, he finds that this is a necessary path that the poor have to take in the American society (Bull, 2013).
In a final interview with the book author, Brian Bull finds out the mind of the writer concerning the lives of the American working poor. Indeed, there are very limited financial freedoms for the working poor in the United States. One false move could land such a person in a very awkward situation. In fact, such a move could be unforeseen, such as their car breaking down. This is because of the limited financial cushion that is available to these individuals. They simply dont have enough money to cater for emergencies such as medical needs or accidents, sometimes even children. Moreover, the American dream trumps their hard work in saying that they are simply not working hard enough if they cannot afford the luxuries of having a good life. These interviews embody the flipside of the American dream, what Shipler calls the American Myth. This is the flipside of the assertion that hard work always leads to good rewards. This is not the case for the interviewees in the Working Poor.
Bull, B. (2013). The Working Poor, Part II: Brushawn. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from idestream.org: http://www.ideastream.org/news/working-poor-part-ii-brushawn
Bull, B. (2013). The Working Poor, Part III: Bridget. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from ideastream.org: http://www.ideastream.org/news/working-poor-part-iii-bridget
Bull, B. (2013). The Working Poor, Part IV: Marilyn. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from ideastream.org: http://www.ideastream.org/news/working-poor-part-iv-marilyn.
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