Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bait and Switch

chronicles more than a year of her adventures into the white collar middle class job industry in the US.  Those of you familiar with the rules of the classic bait and switch will understand just by the title that she is talking about the failure of promise in a world that says work hard, go to college and you will be rewarded with a lifetime of jobs that will pay you four times what your uneducated brethren make.  Well, we already know that that’s a lie just on its surface.  There are more examples than can be cited of dropouts who are millionaires.  Still, . . . we all go through school believing the bait (education is its own reward) even if we don’t choose it.

The switch comes later.  Well, actually it is coming right now.  And it appears that it is coming to not just us but every economy world wide as we all encounter the fact of living a life based on credit.  We can’t even deny our part in what is now unfolding.  We saw the envelope in the parking lot filled with money (credit cards, home equity, carry trade economics, the stock market) and we knew it wasn’t really ours.  But it only seemed fair to keep it as long as no one came along to claim it (the credit card interest rate fluctuating, the failure of the housing industry, the sub-prime loan crash, the bond rating slip) for their own.  So here we are all hoping that what is happening is really just some nay-Sayer’s dream come true.  But not really. 

As our writer friend, Trent, at the Simple Dollarsays think long term and it will all come out right.  Sure, focus on Edwards’s hair, Hillary’s laugh, Obama’s name, or McCain’s jaw clench.  That’s the real news, our media tells us.  Anyone who says different is just filled with negative thinking and we all know where that gets us.  Do the words of George Bush the second sound familiar.  Just go shopping.  God is on our side.  Talk about buying into a dream.

As Ehrenreich points out in her book’s concluding chapter,

The most recent corporate tax break, for example, is provided by the appealingly titled American Jobs Creation Act, although it does nothing at all to encourage job creation.  Elected officials coddle the corporations for our sake, we are always told; there is no other way to generate jobs.

The real bottom line is that our corporations are in the process (through buyouts, layoffs, and outsourcing) of doing exactly the opposite.  Instead of creating jobs they are eliminating them.  And because we are the shareholders that the corporations are beholden to, (pay us our dividend now, we demand) we are caught in our own little Catch 22 cycle.  Only it isn’t little and it isn’t just us that are now opening that envelope of counterfeit paper.



  1. […] You can have baggage… wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt … world that says work hard, go to college and you will be rewarded with a lifetime of j … We saw the envelope in the parking lot filled with money (credit cards, home equity, carry trade economics, the stock market) and we knew it wasn’t really ours…. […]

  2. rhbee said

    I have the devil of a time with the pingback/trackback feature of the internet. I’m guessing that a search of terms brought the above comment but as you can see it apparently is blind (a computer) because it attributes the post to someone or some site that doesn’t exist. Yet the ping came to my site somehow.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: