Final Portfolio

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Working Poor Book Club Presentation Notes

The thesis of The Working Poor: Invisible in America, we believe is “Nobody who works hard should be poor in America”. “‘Working poor’ should be an oxymoron…”

Structure: Chapters are broken up, he uses statistics but also uses anecdotes and more personal experiences with the “working poor”. Repetitive in examples (e.g. malnutrition stories).

First chapter was overwhelming with statistics and hard to follow if the reader doesn’t know a lot about taxes/paperwork/percentages. It sets up the rest of the book but it was tedious.

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Working Poor #4

Recently I felt more connected to the book I’ve been reading for book club. My father is just finishing up the tail end of his chemotherapy for esophageal cancer and during his duration in the hospital my brother was in charge of the family finances. My dad was heavily drugged from his operation to remove the cancer and when asked about bills, loans, financial aid for school, etc. he gave direction that was not the best. We ended up getting scammed by a debt relief company and recently we filed for bankruptcy to protect ourselves from companies suing us for money to pay off debt (money we don’t have). Now I find myself angry when my parents go out to eat, when they buy more expensive bottles of olive oil, pay cable bills for channels we don’t watch, and are part of a cheap wine club. We are no better than the people in this book and looking back at my other blogs I feel like we need to make the appropriate changes to our lifestyle because that is the mature thing to do, not try to hide it by buying things we can’t afford.

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Portfolio

Here is a compilation of my works thus far in the semester. Enjoy!

 
http://www.laurensengportfolio.weebly.com
 

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Book Club Blog

The Working Poor: Invisible in America is still keeping my attention. I drift off sometimes but it is only due to the amount of examples used and it can be a bit tedious trying to remember which name goes to each example. It is a frustrating read but it is due to the examples David K. Shipler gives-there are some hardworking poor but there are also the poor that use the government and try to cheat the system to get money (only to blow it on cigarettes and cable). It’s inspiring to see the working poor, especially people with children, working several jobs and making ends meet with a smile on their face but it is disheartening to see people taking advantage of what is given to them and don’t work to support themselves.

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Talk of the Town

For my Talk of the Town piece I wanted to discuss the Bridgewater alcohol/substance policy. More specifically I want to look at a few cases and how they were dealt with by the staff. There seems to be a controversy and unfairness in discipline for different types of students. RA’s (resident assistants) generally get off the hook more easily when they break the rules-especially if they are well-liked and involved with many other activities. In my piece I will be using pseudonyms but they are representative of real people in situations that have happened this year and a few years prior. This year one boy was pulled over outside campus to be told he had a tail light out. According to him he was also pulled out of his car and immediately cuffed. The police searched his car and found and empty bowl (for smoking marijuana). This student was kicked out of housing and expelled from school. Just a few years ago there was an RA living on campus. He in his room had a trunk full of marijuana, fireworks, and alcohol, and would often smoke weed in his room. This student was not reprimanded and was at most removed from his RA position. In a similar case there was a female RA who was caught with alcohol in her room. She was rehired for her position later on in her time at the college. I would like to explore these instances and discuss them in my Talk of the Town piece.

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Working Poor #2

The Working Poor book for book club continues to surprise me. In my readings for book club this week left me angry and not feeling much sympathy for the poor. One case in particular I found to be ridiculous was that of the couple Sarah and Willie, who have since divorced. They barely have enough money to raise their four children (of three different fathers including Willie) yet they spend frivolously and let their children run around in diapers. The parents are children themselves not being much out of their teens and go to clubs and drink, and often get into physical disputes. The extra money they received from taxes went to Sarah and Willie’s tattoos. The children have behavioral problems stemming from the parents own problems with anger, instability, and inconsistencies. The section that infuriated me involved Cody (3), Kayla, and a baby of Sarah and Willie; “Sarah asleep…Kayla, at eighteen months, chewing on a cigarette and putting a Bic lighter in her mouth. She played in the dirty toilet while Cody pulled his chair up to the stove with the burners lit. [The author] saw Kayla hit the baby in the face with a sneaker and pick up a plastic bench, ready to slam it onto the baby’s head” (35). The children even at 3 years old still wear only diapers with no money for proper clothing. They are served Lunchables and other expensive junk foods. This is just one example of a family and there are so many living in America. It’s horrible to know that this is happening especially with innocent children involved. People need to start taking responsibility with their money and their lives, and should think twice before bringing children into an unstable life.

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Working Poor

After reading the first section of reading from The Working Poor: Visible in America, I found that I did not know much about taxes, income, government projects dealing with it, and other companies that were involved. I got lost in the technical jargon┬ámany times but could still get a basic understanding of what the author was trying to convey. It was interesting to know that there are separate forms that can be filled and sent out to get money upfront instead of waiting to do to taxes in April. I myself have a hard time wrapping my head around taxes and the monetary lingo but I could tell that people who need money upfront who don’t make a lot or enough to support their families have the option of filling out W-2 forms, but most people don’t know that they even exist. It’s sad when it seems like the companies and other places of power don’t help the poor, but rather take advantage of them. There are cases where people take advantage of the system to make more money, but there are good working people out there that are struggling to make ends meet, and those people deserve to get fair treatment and get the help they need to make their lives less of a struggle.

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On Writing Well- Writing About People

In reading “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser, chapter 12 gives highlights on writing about people and conducting interviews. Growing up through grade school and high school, the interview assignments were the most dreaded for myself. In this chapter in “On Writing Well” Zinsser touches upon that an interview probably should not be with a roommate, parent, friend, etc. and should have the interviewer looking outwards to people they perhaps have never met before. This is where my dread starts to sink in. The interview process does not have to be painful which I think most students find it as. Zinsser points out that interview skills are something “you can only get better at” (104). This takes some of the tension off of me the potential interviewer. Zinsser also points out that background information on the interviewee (i.e. their activities, jobs, schooling, acquintances, etc.) should be collected before conducting an interview. Many a time have I found myself interviewing one of my relatives for grade school/high school and have no idea why I had even chose them, I had no thesis and no direction into what I even wanted to accomplish. Through reading this chapter it helped me change my negative thoughts on interviewing and help me get some sense of direction on how to hold a successful interview.

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