Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Barbara Ehrenreich writes, "Where the wait staff and bed-makers live today I do not know." I wish that she would do an informative study of the poor over time and not just a snapshot at a given time. The permanent underclass in this country is under 5 percent. I think it's more important how people are living and what they're spending.

I don't know about Idaho, but in New York both rich and poor can equally view beautiful scenery of our fabulous skyline during their daily commutes. So what if the ultra-wealthy see it from a limo while others view it from a subway?

If she couldn't find a shirt for under $100, why didn't she try the nearest Wal-Mart? If that's not politically correct, what about Target?

Steven Kalka

East Rockaway, NY

Jun 25 2008 - 12:24pm

Web Letter

Some of the points you have made in your article I don't understand. I make about $50,000 a year currently. What drives me in my career is not only doing what I love--which is owning the printing business I started six months ago--but it is also the idea of eventually making a pile of money. Free enterprise and capitalism, don't those words mean anything to you? If I am making $1,000,000 ten years down the line, why should I have to pay tenfold more taxes than people who aren't making that much? This is the United States of America: a place where any one can be a millionaire if they work their tails off. I am working my tail off to achieve that success. What you support is not only anti-American, it is a small form of socialism. By driving up minimum wage we simply drive up and promote inflation. If there are more people in our country that believe the same things you do, then I fear losing the ideals that our great country was founded upon.

Walter Riggs

Columbia, SC

Jun 24 2008 - 9:10pm

Web Letter

Wow. This is possibly the whiniest article ever written.

Ehrenreich's envy bleeds from every paragraph, as she recounts her loss of a cheap vacation or a ticket to a ballgame. Funny how the hotels seem to be filled and the bleachers are packed.

She doesn't even have the decency to acknowledge that most rich folk are self-made and obviously work much harder than she'd ever contemplate.

The rich are not an elite club milking the poor working class. They are an ever-growing portion of this country that gets the job done. Do you know why there are so many rich people in Driggs and Key West? Because there are so many more rich people!

This country rewards greatness. I hope it does not reward your whining self-pity.

Joe Davey

Tucson, AZ

Jun 17 2008 - 4:33pm

Web Letter

OK, let's see... It's just a matter of mathematics.

The poor and middle classes have been ignored, imprisoned, impoverished, drugged, bought out, ripped off, lied to, sent to their deaths in one war for profit after another, fed reasons to hate each other by the elites, denied healthcare and good education and poisoned in a degraded environment.

We have worked ourselves to death for less money and security for years while morons tell us how "uniquely American" we are for having no choice in doing so.

The top 15 percent have looked down their noses at us as if we are less than human... as if we deserve our fates in this Skinner Box set against us called the "American Dream"... all lies.

The top 15 percent don't live the same lives of fatigue, anger and desperation the rest of us live. That's fine... just fine...

The top 15 percent are just that... 15 percent.

When the bottom 85 percent finally wake up from their "Democracy," i.e., slavery, and become angry--French Revolution angry complete w/ guillotines... it will simply be a matter of mathematics.

Bill McNeil

Tampa, FL

Jun 17 2008 - 2:43pm

Web Letter

"Free Market Capitalism" is just a way to let people feel good about being greedy.

More Woody lyrics for our times, this one from "Pretty Boy Floyd":

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

Stephen Crawford

Honey Creek, PA

Jun 16 2008 - 4:25pm

Web Letter

The author makes a good point and then becomes part of the problem rather than part of the solution. It is true that the most beautiful urban and rural places worldwide have in the past forty years slowly become affordable mostly to those in higher income brackets. However, the whole discussion about them "the rich" versus us the "humble folks" is so black-and-white and linear in thinking, it reminds me of its sibbling opposite known as "far right conservatives."

In both cases we have us versus them, good versus bad, black and white and self-righteousness. This type of simplistic thinking is self-gratifying but immature, whether originating from liberals or conservatives.

Hopefully we can move beyond such liberal/right-wing, poor/rich, Republican/Democratic artificial opposites.

Chris Andre

Los Angeles, CA

Jun 16 2008 - 1:16pm

Web Letter

Thank you, Barbara Ehrenreich, thank you so much. As the 70-year-old son of a railroad employee, I was wondering if I was the only human on the face of the earth that felt that the sweat equity of our fathers had been totally forgotten. The words of the Depression song ''Brother can you spare a dime" keeps running through my mind. I especially keep hearing the words, "Once I built a railroad, brother can you spare a dime?" I live in Northern Maine where it is hellishly cold in winter, and I keep seeing senior citizens collecting bottles by the side of the road just to survive.

Again, thank you, Barbara. Keep on keeping on.

James Pinette

Caribou, ME

Jun 16 2008 - 1:07pm

Web Letter

Edward O. Wilson is probably right about our need to interact with nature. But Ms. Ehrenreich should look a little closer to wherever she is right now for beautiful natural things to marvel at and interact with. Prof. Wilson takes people into Central Park to dig down through the leaf litter to find the anonymous and miraculous creatures that live all around us. Rather than focus on elite places like Jackson Hole and Sun Valley where rich people have bought up the land and boosted prices, Ehrenreich might do well to change her focus and see that, like many people in our society, she wrongly thinks she must "get away" to find beauty and solace. Idaho is a big beautiful state, and Sun Valley a small bit of it. Ditto Wyoming and Jackson Hole. And the rich certainly haven't shut anyone out of Yellowstone or Yosemite or the Grand Canyon or Central Park or Golden Gate Park. The United States is home to many wonderful national parks and forests, all open to anyone. Drive in, bike in, hike in and it's easy to find places without another person around you for miles. Most of them don't have shops selling anything, nor opera houses. And our cities are home to parks and other small parcels of nature even easier to reach. Rather than envy the rich and encourage others to hate them, I hope she will look differently at what is closer to her. Nature is everywhere.

Steve Brown

Oakland, CA

Jun 16 2008 - 9:50am

Web Letter

Yes, plutocracy; that is the word, isn't it? Rule by the wealthy. Public lands belong to the people, and I hope it stays that way. The sticker shock Ms. Ehrenreich experienced at seeing the cost of the clothing on the rack outside the store she passed by puts that awful mantra in our minds, the one that clangs, "If you can't afford it, you shouldn't be here." The problem is that we try to commodify everything. Selfishness is the rule of the day, isn't it? An authentic legacy of the Reagan era? Hey, that's when I started to notice that cars sped up toward pedestrians instead of slowing down for them, during the Reagan years. Infomercials for making us look younger and for taking away the wrinkles? Maybe so, but dude, that sometimes makes it easier to see the inside ugliness. Anyway, I know I'm rambling, but that's what happens when a piece of writing touches. One more thing: to all you middle-class white folks getting your behinds kicked around by the economy, don't lose your sense of humor, and welcome to the black community. Saith the Hughes: "I'se still climbin' honey, and life for me ain't been no crystal stair." Amen.

Paul Rigmaiden

Modesto, CA

Jun 14 2008 - 6:42pm

Web Letter

Thought you should see this . Keep up the good work.

Leo Manzetti

Iowa City, IO

Jun 14 2008 - 1:23pm

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