Barbara Ehrenreich is a well-known American journalist, social activist and author, tagged by The New Yorker as ‘a veteran muckraker’. Describing herself as the ‘myth buster by trade’, she is best known for her work in Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America .This 2001 book was a memoir of her survival within minimum remuneration as a Wal-mart employee and other janitorial and hospitality services. She was praised by Newsweek magazine and the New York times for her grit and determination for undergoing such experimental experience to expose abstractions of ‘living wage and affordable housing’. She was awarded as the Humanist of the Year by American Humanist Association in 1998. The Mother Jones magazine rewarded her with the National Magazine Award for excellence in reporting. She has also been vocal about women’s reproductive rights, through her essays in The Worst Years of Our Lives. We have collected Barbara Ehrenreich’s quotes from her writings, speeches, interviews and life. Here are few powerful quotes from this dynamic American public figure.
No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.
The Civil Rights Movement, it wasn't just a couple of, you know, superstars like Martin Luther King. It was thousands and thousands - millions, I should say - of people taking risks, becoming leaders in their community.
Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month's rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene.
I would never call myself a cancer survivor because I think it devalues those who do not survive. There's this whole mythology that people bravely battle their cancer and then they become survivors. Well, the ones who don't survive may be just as brave, you know, just as courageous, wonderful people.
I know that the last thing a book wants is to just sit around unread, serving as an element of interior decorating. So when I have people over, all they have to do is glance at my books, and I implore them to take a few home with them. If I am really ambitious, I pack books into boxes and donate them to prisons.
Take motherhood: nobody ever thought of putting it on a moral pedestal until some brash feminists pointed out, about a century ago, that the pay is lousy and the career ladder nonexistent.
Employers have gone away from the idea that an employee is a long-term asset to the company, someone to be nurtured and developed, to a new notion that they are disposable.
Well, the first thing that clued me in to the fact that there was something really scary about breast cancer, way beyond the thought of dying, was coming across an ad in the newspaper for pink breast cancer teddy bears. I am not that afraid of dying, but I am terrified of dying with a pink teddy bear under my arm.
Medical debts are the number-one cause of bankruptcy in America.
The internet was supposed to make this whole business of job searching rational and simple. You could post your resume and companies would search them and they'd find you. It doesn't seem to work that way. There aren't enough jobs for experienced, college educated managers and professionals.
If there is something I am arguing, it is a critique of science. Science has consistently denied the existence of consciousness other than human. Only in the last 20 years do we have acknowledgement of animal feeling or culture or experience.
Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest.
My death is incidental, and I worry very much about my loved ones and, you know, would like to make it as easy as possible for them. Or wish I could will away whatever, you know, the sadness they will feel when I die. But for me, nothing. The world goes on.
I've spent so many years talking about poverty and economic justice, I'm strongly tempted to get biblical. Jesus' teachings are so radical; they're just insanely generous and apocalyptic. Christians become more fascinated by the dead Jesus. They don't like the living Jesus.
For a long time on Earth humans didn't worship good gods; that's a new idea. The ancient Greek gods, the Hindu gods, are fairly amoral, most of them. We get stuck when we insist that God be both good and all-powerful.
There's a lot of cruelty going on all the time, and I'm not just talking about inter-human cruelty. I'm talking about whole species becoming extinct, asteroids hitting planets, black holes gobbling up stars.
We - we spend a lot of time, scholarly time, thinking about love and sex, but very little about the - the kind of joy that can take over a crowd of people or a group of people, in festivity, in ecstatic ritual of some kind, in celebration.
A research group found that 56 percent of major companies surveyed in the late '80s agreed that 'employees who are loyal to the company and further its business goals deserve an assurance of continued employment.' A decade later, only 6 percent agreed. It was in the '90s that companies started weeding people out as a form of cost reduction.
Well I do think there are people who are habitually negative and depressed and take the opposite approach because they imagine the worst, and their minds become dominated by that. They let their own emotions and expectations transform their perceptions of the world.
When I was 13, I had these episodes where I could just see the world without any words attached to it, without any associations. It was a little bit spooky. A lot of people might have even thought it was pathological. I thought it was interesting.
The secret of the truly successful, I believe, is that they learned very early in life how not to be busy. They saw through that adage, repeated to me so often in childhood, that anything worth doing is worth doing well.
The psychological trauma of losing a job can be as great as the trauma of a divorce.
I think it's tragic that we have this human capacity, which appears to be hardwired, or so the evolutionary biologists say, for collective joy. We have these techniques for generating it that go back thousands of years, and yet we tend not to use this.
Yes, I think especially the Pentecostal churches, you know, that there's been such a growth in Pentecostalism. And it's a rejection of the much more dour and barren kind of Calvinist worship and also, the very formal Catholic forms of worship.
I'm not questioning the monotheistic god. I think there's absolutely no evidence for the existence of such a god. When I say that, I mean I'm - part of that is that the idea that God could be all-powerful and also benevolent is on its face contradictory.
I didn't want to be an author; I wanted to be a scientist. Not that I didn't love literature, but I couldn't distinguish it from reading, and reading was already my default activity, almost like breathing.
According to a recent poll [...] 94% of Americans agree that "people who work fulltime should be able to earn enough to keep their families out of poverty.
I routinely oscillate between exultation and despair. Maybe at the end of the day I feel pretty good about what I've written, but the next morning I see that it's crap. Then I start again - make a new outline, do some more research, try to rethink the whole question.
As far as I can see, even now, after years of puzzling over the field of cognitive science, there is no clear line between entities to which science attributes mind and those it regards as mindless mechanisms.
The universe does not reveal itself to undergraduates or fools: This is the entire premise of higher education.
It was a real surprise to me to come across the evidence that Christianity might once have been a danced religion. Certainly, some of the early church leaders thought this was great and spoke of what seems to have been circle dancing, perhaps around an altar.
I have a Ph.D. in cell biology. And that's really manual labor. I mean, experimental science, you do it with your hands. So it's very different. You're out there in a lab, cleaning test tubes, and it just wasn't that fascinating.
In 1993, 89 of the 'Fortune' top 100 companies were administering the Myers-Briggs test to their employees. The philosophy behind personality tests is that they don't want you to be in the wrong kind of job. The tests have been completely exposed as nonsense.
When I was 17, I had an experience that I later learned could be called a 'mystical experience.' It was almost violent. No faces, voices, nothing like that. It is like the world burst and flamed into life all around me. That is not a great image, but it is as good as I will ever do.
I went into science, ending up with a Ph.D. in cell biology, but along the way I found out that experimental science involves many hours and days and nights of laboratory work, which is a lot like washing dishes, only a little more challenging. I was too impatient, and maybe a little too sloppy, for it.