Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Barbara Ehrenreich on class

A Guided Tour of Class in America
Barbara Ehrenreich on the prey and the predators

by Tom Engelhardt
Mother Jones - June 05 , 2006

You turn into a middle-class, suburban housing project
on the periphery of Charlottesville, Virginia, and at a
row of attached homes, you pull up in front of the one
with the yellow "for sale" sign on the tiny patch of
grass. Ushered inside, you take in an interior of paint
cans, a mop and pail, and cleaning liquids. On the
small porch that overlooks a communal backyard, workmen
are painting the weathered wood railings a nice, clean
white. Later, when they're gone, we step out for a
minute, on a balmy late spring afternoon, and she says,
"You know what I need out here? Flowers!" And it's
true, the nearest neighbor's small porch is a riot of
red, orange, and purple blooms, while hanging from her
railing are three plant holders with only dirt and the
scraps of dead vegetation in them.

Not surprising really. Barbara Ehrenreich, our foremost
journalist of, and dissector of class is regularly not
here. Practically a household name since she entered
the low-wage working class disguised as herself and, in
her already classic account, Nickel and Dimed, reported
back on just how difficult it is for so many hard-
working Americans to get by. Then, a few years later,
she repeated the process with the middle class, only to
find herself not in the workforce but among the
desperately unemployed who had fallen out of an ever
meaner corporate world. Her most recent book, Bait and
Switch, The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, was
the result. Now, she spends much time traveling the
country talking to audiences about her -- and their --
experiences. She has become a blogger, is involved in
launching a new group to help organize the middle-class
unemployed, and in her spare time she's even finished a
new book.
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