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The New York Times had an interesting piece over the weekend by Tracie McMillan, author of “The American Way of Eating," who writes about working class anxieties that she encountered during several months she spent undercover working the night shift - for $8.10 an hour - at a rural Michigan Walmart.

An excerpt:

"From my reporter’s perspective, I could see similarities between the lives of the people I spent the night shift with and those of folks I’d met covering poverty in New York City: Unpredictable work schedules damaging health and home life; no dependable child care wreaking havoc on work; transportation and health care so tenuous that basic household functions like grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments fell by the wayside; wages that almost never matched expenses.

"For all the variations that race and geography produced, there was a sameness to the tone of life for everyone I met who was working class, which usually meant they worked but were still poor." And if there some bitterness among the people she encountered,McMillan writes, "Much of it seemed to come from feeling they had been promised an easy path to the American dream, and had found only a dead end. They weren’t wrong. More than 90 percent of Americans born in 1940 earned more than their parents, but only 50 percent of those born in 1980 will, according to the Equality of Opportunity Project ... Nobody I worked with had the luxury of my aerial view. They had high school diplomas and uncertain futures, and no easy explanation for why the dream didn’t work out for them."

It is a fascinating piece, and you can read it in its entirety here.
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