The day at work program being undertaken by Mitt Romney provides great photo opportunities. But Mitt Romney would learn a lot more about the problems facing low paid workers from reading Nickel and Dimed (Barbara Ehrenreich) or When Work Disappears (W. J. Wilson). In these books the complete set of difficulties of a low paid person’s life are laid out in detail. The lack of jobs in the inner city; the difficulty of getting transportation to a distant job in time for the start of a shift; the theft of one’s time through unpaid overtime; the difficulty of finding affordable accommodation (and that insurmountable barrier of accumulating two month’s rent in advance). It is this context of life’s difficulties that is so debilitating before one even does a hard day’s work.
Of course, one day on the job does not give time for the meaninglessness of much of that work to sink in – one is still in a learning mode. I only lasted a week on a donut assembly line: I could not get to sleep until I started up the line in my dreams. That is the reality of many assembly line jobs.
So, let’s have fewer photo opportunities and more discussion of meaningful policies for the social safety net.