Barbara Ehrenreich on Poverty Now
Jose Rivera, 54, a resident of a homeless encampment in Fresno, Calif., was photographed on Thursday, June 18, 2009. (AP)

Jose Rivera, 54, a resident of a homeless encampment in Fresno, Calif., was photographed on Thursday, June 18, 2009. (AP)

Politicians love to talk about the middle class. Barbara Ehrenreich writes about the poor.

There are a lot of poor in this country. Working poor. The economic crisis of the last year has pushed their lives from hard to harder. And the nation’s response, says Ehrenreich, has been almost cruel. Not help, but the back of a hand.

This hour we’ll sit down with Barbara Ehrenreich — and with two women, hotel housekeepers, recently fired by a national hotel chain that hired replacements at half their wages.

This hour, On Point: life on the edge in hard times, with Barbara Ehrenreich.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Barbara Ehrenreich joins us from Washington. She’s a journalist and author of several books, among them “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” and “Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream.” Her recent four-part series on poverty in America ran on The New York Times Op-Ed page.  Her new book, out next month, is “Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.”

Joining us in our studio is Lucine Williams, a mother of two, worked for 21 years and eleven months at a Hyatt Hotel in Boston as a housekeeper. She had a full-time, non-union job with benefits. In August, Hyatt Corporation laid off approximately 100 cleaning staff and replaced them with outsourced employees making half their salary. The hotel chain has since extended the health benefits of the laid-off workers and offered job-search assistance.

Also with us in our studio is Angela Norena. She worked at a Hyatt Hotel in Boston for 15 years until she was laid off three weeks ago. She’s the mother of a 14-year old son.

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