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Hard Times Revisited

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In 2003, the University of North Carolina assigned Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich's account of her six months trying to squeeze by on low-wage jobs, to its incoming freshmen for summer reading. In 2008, John Edwards' effort to build a presidential campaign around a commitment to ending poverty proved a nonstarter; many voters apparently thought that he was "just too angry." The people in the middle, or on other kinds of margins, remain largely invisible- genteel housewives reduced to scrubbing other people's floors; ambitious students forced to sacrifice life plans; traveling salesmen with nowhere to go and no one to buy their goods.

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