A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on EarthBook - 2018
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“Too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption,” Carter said, his pale eyes full of worry. “. . . But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning.” - p. 23
“But the American Dream has a price tag on it. The cost changes depending on where you’re born and to whom, with what color skin and with how much money in your parents’ bank account. The poorer you are, the higher the price. You can pay an entire life in labor, it turns out, and have nothing to show for it. Less than nothing, even: debt, injury, abject need.” - p. 42
“To be made invisible as a class is an invalidation. With invalidation comes shame. A Shame that deep—being poor in a place full of narratives about middle and upper classes—can make you feel like what you are is a failure.”
“No one around me articulated these things, let alone complained about them. The worker who feels her poor circumstances result from some personal failure is less likely to have a grievance with a boss, policy, or system and is less likely to protest, strike, or demand a raise.” - p. 127
“Our sense that our struggles were our own fault, our acceptance of the way things were, helped keep American industry humming to the benefit of the wealthy.” - pp. 127 & 128
“Society’s contempt for the poor becomes the poor person’s contempt for herself.” - p. 132
the American Dream has. a price tag on it. The cost changes depending on where you're born and to whom. . .but the poorer you are the higher the price.,.
The poverty I felt most. . . was a scarcity of the heart, a near-constant state of longing for the mother right in front of me yet out of reach.
She withheld the immense love she had inside her like children of the Great Depression hoarded coins.
Class didn't exist in a democracy like ours [in 1980], as far as most Americans were concerned, at least not as a destiny or an excuse.
You got what you worked for, we believed.
There was some truth to that. But it was not the whole truth.
That we could live on a patch of Kansas dirt with a tub of Crisco lard and a $1 rebate coupon in an envelope on the kitchen counter and call ourselves middle class was at once a triumph of contentedness and a sad comment on our country's lack of awareness about its own economic structure.
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