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Waging a Living
May 17, 2008, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Movies

I just finished viewing the documentary Waging a Living. The movie follows four members of the working poor over the course of three years. There is very little commentary or judgement, only a few facts that are displayed on the screen throughout the documentary. The film basically just shows what day to day life looks like for people who work their hardest, but just can’t manage to get ahead.

Parts of Waging a Living really rang true for me as I grew up around the poverty line and can remember my mom going to the food bank and accepting charity so that we could get by after my parents got divorced. While my childhood was never as bad as the examples in the film, I got a crystal clear view of what my life could have been like if my parents or I never went to college. 

I enjoyed the fact that the film simply showed what life is like for the working poor and did not jump in with loads of facts and commentary. There were no solutions presented or any sort of judgement passed. I feel that it is easier for each viewer to take away significant meaning from the documentary when it is presented in this manner.

Here are a few facts that were shown during the film that really stood out at me:
-In the year following a divorce, the man’s standard of living rises 10% while the woman’s standard of living drops 27%.
-Since 1979, housing costs have tripled while wages for the bottom 20% of workers remained static.
-78% of low wage workers in service jobs do not have health insurance.

I feel confused after viewing this film because, while I do have a college degree, I am making very little money working my two part time jobs with no benefits (less than some of the people in the film). Am I considered to be a member of the working poor? Since I live with and rely financially on my fiance, I think I escape that labeling.

What can I do, in this failing economy, to get a job that I deserve? Is it even possible? In a nutshell, Waging a Living makes me feel both lucky and pessimistic about my current and future states.

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