Friday night January 13, 2017 ABC 20-20 aired a report by Diane Sawyer, “My Reality: A Hidden America”, about the lives of working people with low wages. The best link is here.
The tone of the broadcast reminds me of Barbara Ehrenreich’s 2001 book “Nickel and Dimed” where she went undercover and took low-wage jobs.
What we call the middle class has shrunk. Because of the way market forces work in a system of extreme capitalism, housing prices have risen much more quickly than the ability of average people to pay for housing has risen.
So the report shows many people working multiple jobs and doing extreme commutes to make ends meet. In the Silicon Valley, one worker commutes four hours each way, partly by bicycle, to get to a job in Palo Alto. The film showed a firemam and EMT technician with three jobs and alternate nights away from home, and little time at home.
The film also covered fast food workers, and explained how franchise owners often set the rules.
In the Silicon Valley, major companies have recently become more attentive to the behavior of contractors who hire workers to provide basic services, especially drivers for employees, so benefits and wages of some service workers on the campuses if these big tech companies have improved.
A lot of people see low wage jobs as a way of “paying your dues”, a test for deserving a better station in life.