When I told my husband that Barbara Ehrenreich's This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation was a depressing book, he said that's because it's true. He told me not to read reality-based books if it's going to depress me.
Barbara Ehrenreich is the bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, and Bait and Switch. She can call this book satirical commentary, but it's sad that her points about our government, our health care system, and our work force are actually right on target. Early on, she says that we've changed from a country where we felt we were all in it together, to one where the philosophy is closer to "I've got mine." She actually says, "Let the environment decay, the infrastructure crumble, the public hospitals close, the schools get by on bake sales, the workers drop from exhaustion – who cares?"
Ehrenreich points out that people are out of work, losing their homes, losing their health care, and no one is speaking up. Why aren't people complaining? We're letting our government and our businesses, such as Wal-Mart, control the country. And, they do a very good job of distracting us from the bad conditions in this country by pointing us in the direction of side issues, such as gay marriage and pro-life and pro-choice disagreements. She isn't the first one to say that illegal immigration is the latest distraction. "But it wasn't a Mexican who took away your pension or sold you on a dodgy mortgage." We're afraid for our jobs. We're afraid to lose our houses and our health care. It's not the first time in our country's history that a minority group has been selected as a scapegoat to distract us from the actual social conditions in this country.
The dictionary defines satire as "The use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc." Barbara Ehrenreich successfully uses sarcasm to do all of those things. She exposes the vices, follies and deceit behind our business practices, our health care practices, and our employment. She does a wonderful job in ridiculing our fascination with business success books, when the only people getting rich are the authors of those trite books. We could all take lessons from This Land is Their Land in denouncing the wrongs in this country.
I hope that Barbara Ehrenreich's This Land is Their Land is as successful as Nickel and Dimed. It's another important book, by a very important author. This book needs to be read, and discussed. Most of all, we need to take some action to change ourselves, and our country.