Barbara Ehrenreich set out to write a book about working in corporate America. This would have been a logical progression from her previous Nickel and Dimed, which was about the horrible conditions of America's working poor and the exploitation of them by business. Barbara expected to report on the difficulties of white collar workers; the over demanding bosses, the long hours of unpaid work and so on. Instead she found herself unable to get a job at all, so the book is actually about the numb horror of the white collar unemployed.
She's going to get a lot of criticism on this because it's easy to explain her failure to find employment in terms of her own shortcomings and mistakes. It doesn't help that she had to fake her resume to avoid detection as the reporter/writer that she actually is. She had to avoid certain industries where she might be known and (because of her fake resume) any government employment. Finally, her job searching was hampered by being limited to generic, "any old degree will do" positions where there is tremendous competition for the few available jobs. That's all true, and it's going to be all too easy for people to smugly dismiss this book because of that.
But you shouldn't. The grim picture she paints of desperate and helpless people sinking into poverty or underemployment (often both) is all too real. Corporate employees are disposable - it's not just the lowly secretaries, this goes right into the $100,000 a year people and up. Greed has consumed any sense of morality or responsibility; if you are not needed, you get thrown out with the trash. Crawling out of the trash can be very difficult and if you get stuck too long, it just gets harder. Sometimes it becomes impossible.
I recommend reading this. I also recommend that you find a way not to be part of this dehumanizing corporate culture. Of course I mean by working for yourself. I know: it's not easy. There's a lot of fear about self employment, a lot of stomach churning questions. But ending up on the waste heap of corporate America is far worse.
See my "Employment" links in the sidebar for more articles on self employment. But do read this book - it might open your eyes.
Tony Lawrence 2008-12-29 Rating:
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