Barbara Ehrenreich (; born August 26, 1941) is an American author and political activist who describes herself as "a myth buster by trade" and has been called "a veteran muckraker" by The New Yorker. During the 1980s and early 1990s she was a prominent figure in the Democratic Socialists of America. She is a widely read and award-winning columnist and essayist, and author of 21 books. Ehrenreich is perhaps best known for her 2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. A memoir of Ehrenreich's three-month experiment surviving on minimum wage as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart clerk, it was described by Newsweek magazine as "jarring" and "full of riveting grit," and by The New Yorker as an "exposé" putting "human flesh on the bones of such abstractions as 'living wage' and 'affordable housing'." She is a recipient of a Lannan Literary Award.
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Upscale people are fixated with food simply because they are now able to eat so much of it without getting fat, and the reason they don't get fat is that they maintain a profligate level of calorie expenditure. The very same people whose evenings begin with melted goat cheese . . . get up at dawn to run, break for a midmorning aerobics class, and watch the evening news while racing on a stationary bicycle.
Making weapons is what we know how to do best, the supreme achievement of late-twentieth-century American civilization. To this blessed work we assign our finest intellect and the largest share of our treasure, and in the magnificence of an aircraft carrier or a cruise missile we find our moral and aesthetic equivalent of the Sistine ceiling and Chartres Cathedral.
It is supposed to be part of the American tradition that if we want to step out of line, we step out of line. Democracy isn't falling in line behind the president. Democracy is for people to think independently, be skeptical of government, look around and try to find out what's going on. And if they find out that government is deceiving them, to speak out as loudly as they can.