''So,'' she writes, ''this is not a story of some death-defying 'undercover' adventure. Almost anyone could do what I did -- look for jobs, work those jobs, try to make ends meet. In fact, millions of Americans do it every day, and with a lot less fanfare and dithering.''
Ehrenreich's picture of the working poor was taken during the best of times. Yet the comforting economic clichés offered by our pundits failed even under those boom conditions: a rising tide does not lift all boats; trickledown economics stops just south of the middle class.
We have Barbara Ehrenreich to thank for bringing us the news of America's working poor so clearly and directly, and conveying with it a deep moral outrage and a finely textured sense of lives as lived. As Michael Harrington was, she is now our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism.