David Shipler authored the book The Working Poor in 2004. The book has won Pulitzer Prize. The author had talked to individuals perceived to be the working poor. Consequently, he has filled the book with their life stories and anecdotes. He illustrates the hardships experienced by the working poor as they attempt to run away from poverty. Throughout the book, he points out numerous economic issues that hinder the working poor from becoming rich. Shipler expressed his deep felt feelings in the text. The readers visualize the events found in the book and compare them with their own life experience.
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The examples in the book portray the working poor who have never had university education and live in an insecure environment. They purchase homes that are cheaply priced due to their low economic status. The working poor do not have the strength to renovate their homes (Shipler, 2005). Others sell their homes at low prices than the original ones. They have no social and human capital required to escape poverty. Their neighborhoods are characterized by atrocious living conditions, congestion, diseases and epidemics, immorality and high crime rates. Therefore, the working poor do not care or trust anybody in their neighborhood. Lack of trust for one another renders the society economically challenged. They do not have enough human network or support from their kinsmen to help them escape poverty. Many working poor do not have academic and technical skills. Therefore, it proves difficult for them to secure high paying jobs that would help kick poverty out of their lives.
The author explains that the society does little to assist the working poor escape poverty. Some of them have small capitals, but lack support from the society. Most of the families believed to be working poor are headed by single mothers. When mothers lack cheap and proper child care services, they tend to quit their jobs and concentrate on domestic chores. Although caring for their children is instrumental for up-bringing the future generation, the mothers are unpaid and penalized for not showing up at the working area. This is more of a care penalty. The child care’s replacement cost cannot be met by single mothers. Therefore, they are forced to stay at home and look after their little ones. Shipler explores some comparative advantages flaws. The contractors hired by clothing companies obtain cheap labor from the working poor. Others go to overseas to obtain illegal cheap labor. The working poor have no choice, but to accept such jobs to earn a living.
The working poor engage in cheap labor thereby extending the gap between the rich and the poor. This is a threat to the social policy. It proves difficult to equate the distribution of resources, job opportunities and social amenities. Equality in this situation is more of a dream. As mentioned earlier, the working poor have limited academic and technical skills. Therefore, they have no competitive advantage in the job market. To help understand the depth of this situation, it is important to pose several questions; can the society join hands to eradicate poverty? It is possible to have equality in the society? Do the working poor deserve a better life?
Conclusively, the book has given me an insight of two sides of life. I have been able to understand that people live according to their income levels. Sadly, single mothers contain the highest number of working poor. The feelings derived from the events presented in the book are deeply felt. It is wrong to take advantage of the poor and attain cheap labor. My thinking has been nourished and I have gained a spirit of care as well as concern for the less privileged.
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