Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich

By Barbara Ehrenreich

The bestselling writer of Nickel and Dimed is going again undercover to do for America’s ill heart type what she did for the operating poor

Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed explored the lives of low-wage staff. Now, in Bait and turn, she enters one other hidden realm of the economic system: the shadowy global of the white-collar unemployed. Armed with a believable résumé of a pro “in transition,” she makes an attempt to land a middle-class job—undergoing profession training and character checking out, then trawling a sequence of EST-like boot camps, task gala's, networking occasions, and evangelical job-search ministries. She will get a picture makeover, works to undertaking a successful angle, but is proselytized, scammed, lectured, and—again and again—rejected.

Bait and turn highlights the folks who’ve performed every little thing right—gotten university levels, constructed marketable talents, and equipped up outstanding résumés—yet became again and again susceptible to financial ruin, and never easily as a result of vagaries of the enterprise cycle. Today’s ultra-lean businesses show pride in laying off their “surplus” employees—plunging them, for months or years at a stretch, into the twilight quarter of white-collar unemployment, the place task looking turns into a full-time task in itself. As Ehrenreich discovers, there are few social helps for those newly disposable workers—and little defense even if you happen to have jobs.

Like the now vintage Nickel and Dimed, Bait and turn is alternately hilarious and tragic, a searing exposé of financial cruelty the place we least count on it.

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103 Generosity, unselfishness, selfsacrifice and a sense of personal responsibility towards others may thus frequently be preached by men of ideals, by priests, prophets, Human Betterment 29 visionaries and politicians; but they are also, it would appear, useful and necessary if the social organism is properly to adapt to the imperatives of its material situation. Individualism rather than patriotism is of little benefit in a war; peacetime challenges such as 'contests with famine and disease'l04 typically require a greater concern for and kindliness towards others than the model of selfinterest narrowly-defined would normally incorporate; and it is therefore good to know that man with economic growth is actually becoming less 'sordid or selfish', 105 more open to 'the social possibilities of economic chivalry', 106 than ever before.

77 Marshall, as we have indicated, was convinced that activities become relatively more important, wants relatively less important, in the course of social evolution, and praised the classical economists (who, after all, made much of the labour theory of value and wrotelike Marshall himself - far more fully about supply than about demand) for having been aware of the fundamental truth that homo is essentially faber: 'It is important still to assert the great truth on which they dwelt somewhat too exclusively; viz.

Individualism rather than patriotism is of little benefit in a war; peacetime challenges such as 'contests with famine and disease'l04 typically require a greater concern for and kindliness towards others than the model of selfinterest narrowly-defined would normally incorporate; and it is therefore good to know that man with economic growth is actually becoming less 'sordid or selfish', 105 more open to 'the social possibilities of economic chivalry', 106 than ever before. 108 Robin Matthews has vividly demonstrated the essential instability of a market economy in which individual participants act exclusively on the basis of the self-interested egotism of the bellum omnium contra omnes in his example of a primitive society where 'neither competition nor legal redress is an adequate safeguard if your partner in the hunt decides at the critical moment that, all things considered, his utility will be maximized by leaving you to be eaten by the tiger.

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