Barbara Ehrenreich on “Nickel and Dimed”

Nickel and Dimed (2011 Version)

On Turning Poverty into an American Crime By Barbara Ehrenreich

I completed the manuscript for Nickel and Dimed

in a time of seemingly boundless prosperity. Technology innovators and   venture capitalists were acquiring sudden fortunes, buying up  McMansions  like the ones I had cleaned in Maine and much larger. Even  secretaries  in some hi-tech firms were striking it rich with their  stock options.  There was loose talk about a permanent conquest of the  business cycle,  and a sassy new spirit infecting American capitalism.  In San Francisco, a  billboard for an e-trading firm proclaimed, “Make  love not war,” and  then — down at the bottom — “Screw it, just make  money.”

When Nickel and Dimed was published in May 2001, cracks were   appearing in the dot-com bubble and the stock market had begun to   falter, but the book still evidently came as a surprise, even a   revelation, to many. Again and again, in that first year or two after   publication, people came up to me and opened with the words, “I never   thought…” or “I hadn’t realized…”

To my own amazement, Nickel and Dimed quickly ascended to  the  bestseller list and began winning awards. Criticisms, too, have   accumulated over the years. But for the most part, the book has been far   better received than I could have imagined it would be, with an impact   extending well into the more comfortable classes. A Florida woman  wrote  to tell me that, before reading it, she’d always been annoyed at  the  poor for what she saw as their self-inflicted obesity. Now she   understood that a healthy diet wasn’t always an option.  And if I had a   quarter for every person who’s told me he or she now tipped more   generously, I would be able to start my own foundation.

Even more gratifying to me, the book has been widely read among   low-wage workers. In the last few years, hundreds of people have written   to tell me their stories: the mother of a newborn infant whose   electricity had just been turned off, the woman who had just been given a   diagnosis of cancer and has no health insurance, the newly homeless  man  who writes from a library computer.

At the time I wrote Nickel and Dimed, I wasn’t sure how many   people it directly applied to — only that the official definition of   poverty was way off the mark, since it defined an individual earning $7   an hour, as I did on average, as well out of poverty. But three months   after the book was published, the Economic Policy Institute in   Washington, D.C., issued a report entitled “Hardships in America: The   Real Story of Working Families,” which found an astounding 29% of   American families living in what could be more reasonably defined as   poverty, meaning that they earned less than a barebones budget covering   housing, child care, health care, food, transportation, and taxes —   though not, it should be noted, any entertainment, meals out, cable TV,   Internet service, vacations, or holiday gifts. Twenty-nine percent is a   minority, but not a reassuringly small one, and other studies in the   early 2000s came up with similar figures.

the rest of this marvelous post:

Homeless Person’s Memorial Day – Winter Solstice – Verbena’s Birthday


Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Winter Solstice Verbena’s Birthday

You are invited to a good time gathering with music & food at PARC, Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community.  Sing with Bill Holmes!  Bring instruments if you got ’em!

Starts at 1:00pm

At night, we will head down Broadway together as a candlelight vigil for the people we have lost on the street.

Contact info:  707.442.7465,

PARC is in Q St alley between 3rd and 2nd, near Samoa bridge. Dogs welcome.

Facebook event page:

Check out the full handbill:

We are still hoping that someone contacts us with a garage or big yard so that we can create and maintain a short-term Safe Sleeping Space.  Please see the flier with that information here:

It would be great if we could start it on Saturday night!  It’s cold out.  No more people dying on the streets!

Seattle: City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant Pledges $15 Minimum Wage

Sawant pledges $15 minimum wage in 2014

City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant said today that she would work to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage bill in Seattle in 2014, but said she wasn’t ready to release details of a plan.

She said Mayor-elect Ed Murray’s campaign promise to get to a $15 minimum wage by the end of his term wasn’t a fast enough timetable, but she also said she planned to meet with Murray and  other elected officials, as well as labor and community leaders, to try to reach consensus about what a measure should include, how fast it should be implemented and whether or not there should be exceptions for small business.

Eureka Fair Wage Act Meeting Tonight, 6:15 PM, Labor Temple, Eureka

shortlink here:
Come take a step with us into a brighter future for Eureka’s people and local economy by helping us pass the Eureka Fair Wage Act AKA Minimum Wage Act this next November.
Raising wages for our hardest working Sisters and Brothers won’t solve all our problems but it will make Eureka a better place to live.
Come join us tonight at the Labor Temple in Eureka we meet at 6:15.
We are planning now to win in November 2014.  You can be a big part of putting Eureka on the national map in a positive way for a change.  We need volunteers at all levels and of diverse skill sets.
We have already expended  thousands of hours of volunteer time in this effort.   We need your help to leverage this beginning into victory.
Fair Wage Folks

Walmart Suicides – A Disturbing Trend

CONROE, TX (KTRK) — A man has shot and killed himself inside a Walmart in Conroe.

Police say a 35-year-old man entered the store,  walked to the pharmacy area and sat down on the bench. Shortly after, he pulled a semi-automatic gun from his wastband and shot himself.

We’re told the man is an Texas Department of Criminal Justice employee but his duties do not include carrying a weapon.

Suicide by Cop at a Tennessee Walmart

COVINGTON, TN – (WMC-TV) – Officials have released the identity of the suicidal woman fatally shot by police in Covington, Tennessee.

According to a press release, Nattela Ruth Blackwell, 64, left her residence early Sunday morning with a gun.

Officials found Blackwell displaying a handgun in the roadway.

Investigators said she was ordered to drop the handgun and, when she refused, she was shot.

Early reports stated Blackwell received a ride to the Wal-Mart from someone driving a blue passenger car around 8 a.m.

Suicide At Las Vegas Walmart. Life is Cheap

Man kills himself at Las Vegas valley Wal-Mart


A man shot and killed himself inside a Wal-Mart near Nellis Air Force Base early Saturday morning.

Las Vegas police said the man walked into the sporting goods area of the Wal-Mart Supercenter at 4350 N. Nellis Blvd. near Las Vegas Boulevard about 6:15 a.m. with his own gun

Daniel Tilson on Fast Food Strikers and the Middle Class (Context Florida)

The death of Nelson Mandela understandably overtook the news on Dec. 5. But there was another story unfolding that day, a story that were he still alive and well would have struck a chord deep inside him, where the passion for social justice burned so bright and long.

From Miami to Tampa and more than 100 other cities nationwide, people who toil away for awful pay in fast-food restaurants walked off the job and were joined by supporters in peaceful public protests.

As with nationwide Walmart employee walkouts on Black Friday, fast-food workers were protesting pay so low they can’t meet their families’ basic needs, while industry giants such as McDonald’s make billions.

In addition to putting lipstick on a pig, these companies have accomplished something more darkly dangerous.

They’ve driven a wedge between middle-class and poor workers who desperately need to be allies.

Read the rest of this worthy article by Daniel Tilson:

Fast Food Strike Thur Dec. 5, 2013

About this campaign

Fast-food workers are coming together all over the country to fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. We work for corporations that are making tremendous profits, but do not pay employees enough to support our families and to cover basic needs like food, health care, rent and transportation. Too many of us are forced to rely on public assistance to scrape by.

These are billion-dollar companies that can afford to pay their employees better. Low-wage jobs are the fastest growing jobs in the nation, and they need to pay more so that workers like us can make ends meet, and so that we can rebuild the middle class and get the economy working again.

Find a rally: