Hey there, CSA. I don’t discount the nobility of Ehrenreich’s goals in the book — though I guess the very nobility of those goals is part of the problem, as the play (and to a more muted extent, the book) suffers from a bizarre liberal twist on noblesse oblige. She does a good job of uncovering the actual difficulties of the lives of the working poor, yes. But the central message of the book (and especially the play) seems to me: “Look how sensitive I, Barbara Ehrenreich, am to the plight of the working poor.” Great. It’s awful. But what do we do about it? All Ehrenreich gives us, in the very last paragraph, is the very toned-down suggestion of future revolution, which she then tones down even further by suggesting that “we’ll all be better off for it.” We will? If the upper-middle class readers of this book will be better off after a class-based revolution, how can anything possibly change?
This book (and again, worse, the play) struck me as being genuinely about class issues in the same way that A Beautiful Mind was genuinely about the mentally ill; both are designed to make their audiences feel good about their own sensitivity to the difficulties that the less fortunate face, so that we can continue to feel good about ourselves as human beings despite avoiding those unpleasant homeless schizophrenics in the street and underpaying our cleaning help.