Barbara Ehrenreich (icon; born August 26, 1941, Butte, Montana
is an American feminist, democratic socialist
, 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 was born Barbara Alexander to Isabelle Oxley and Ben Howes Alexander in Butte, Montana, which she describes as then being "a bustling, brawling, blue collar mining town."
In an interview on CSPAN, she characterized her parents as "strong union people" with two family rules: "never cross a picket line and never vote Republican." In a talk she gave in 1999, Ehrenreich called herself a "fourth-generation atheist."
"As a little girl," she told the New York Times in 1993, "I would go to school and have to decide if my parents were the evil people they were talking about, part of the Red Menace we read about in the Weekly Reader.
I complain to one of my fellow servers that I don't understand how she can go so long without food. "Well, I don't understand how you can go so long without a cigarette," she responds in a tone of reproach. Because work is what you do for others; smoking is what you do for yourself.
In the new version of the law of supply and demand, jobs are so cheap — as measured by the pay — that a worker is encouraged to take on as many of them as she possibly can.