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As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in the U. S.

Recently I have a pleasure to read your article named “As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in the U. S. , Class Mobility Stalls”. It was very pleasant to find the person with the similar opinions regarding the rich, poverty, class mobility and wealth distribution in the USA. Let me tell you some words about my personal experience, which became the basis of my book “Nickel and dimed: on (not) getting by in America. ” I decided to try the possibility of class mobility by myself. I attempted to live in three locations on three low-wage jobs. I tried to work as a waitress, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart employee.

It is worth mentioned that I have some obvious advantages not enjoyed by many low-wage individuals, especially immigrants and their children: I was white, healthy, well-educated woman with fluent English and without little children, sick relatives or other family troubles. Shortly speaking, you were quite right when you wrote the following: “As the gap between rich and poor has widened since 1970, the odds that a child born in poverty will climb to wealth — or a rich child will fall into the middle class — remain stuck (Wessel, 2005)”.

The possibility to change the life is almost absent when you earn less that you need for living. My average salary on these low-wage jobs was approximately $7 per hour. It wasn’t enough even for basic necessities: food, rent and transportation. The health coverage seemed to be the transcendental dream. I though about the costs of health coverage again when I’ve read in your article the following quote from Christopher Jencks: “There is very powerful evidence that low-income kids suffer from more health problems, and childhood health does predict adult health and adult health does predict performance.

” The direct link between the income, health and financial or business performance can hardly be denied. There is one thought in your article, however, that seems to be groundless for me. I mean the following sentences: “…thanks to a growing economy that lifts everyone’s living standards, the typical American is living with more than his or her parents did. People today enjoy services — cellphones, cancer treatment, the Internet — that their parents and grandparents never had. ”

Let me tell you that for people earning $7 per hour cellphones, expensive medical treatments and computers are the luxuries. They just can’t afford all this. I don’t see the substantial difference between the new model of Iphone today and diamond ring fifty years ago. Sure, the development of new technologies brought a lot of new in our daily life and it changed due to influence of modern technologies. However, the most important thing is that all these innovations are unavailable for low-income families independently of their nature.

This situation didn’t change within the recent fifty years. Generally I agree with your ideas and I appreciate your work very much. I think that the absence of class mobility in the modern American society it a great problem, and I don’t believe that individual culture of poor people is the main reason preventing them to become rich. I am sure that the social structure and wealth distribution has more significant impact on upward social mobility. Thank you for your attention Regards, Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of “Nickel and Dimed: On not getting by in America”

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