(APN) ATLANTA - Dozens of Atlanta's leftists gathered for a preview of the stage version of Barbara Ehrenreich's book, "Nickled and Dimed," this evening, which was preceded by a panel discussion at The Five Spot on the living wage crisis.
The play here was put together by the Seven Stages theatrical group.
"I am just thrilled to go into another medium!" Barbara Ehrenreich told Atlanta Progressive News. "I like it. It's funny. It's fast moving. It does things the book can't do [like] let the other characters speak."
This, panelists said, is the great moral crisis facing our country.
"We're saying a system where 30% of the work force earn less than they need to live on, this is the scandal," Ehrenreich said.
"Morality is not just something that starts at the waist and goes down. It's not just about abortion and gay marriage," Ehrenreich said.
"When I started working on the research for Nickled and Dimed, the overwhelming belief is that poverty is caused by certain character failings, bad choices, drinking, a promiscuous lifestyle. This was clear in the motives that went into welfare reform. In fact, it's caused by a lack of money, that I'm still trying to get across," Ehrenreich said.
"A living wage movement is happening all over. 7 states have raised their wages, as have over 130 cities," Ehrenreich said.
Living wages "should be the prevailing issue this year in the campaign [season]," Sandra Robertson, one of the founders of the Georgia Living Wage Coalition, said.
A shocking statistic was revealed in the panel: "Forty to sixty percent of the homeless work, who are living in shelters," Anita Beaty, 64, Executive Director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, said.
"That's changed over the last 20 years. In the early days, the prevailing reason was they'd lost jobs. Now, they're paying 70% of their income on housing the month that they lose their housing," Beaty said.
The federal standards used by HUD state no more than 30% of one's income should be spent on housing. A worker would need to earn $15.75 per hour in order to afford a two bedroom apartment, Beaty said.
"If you pay your workers less than that, where do you expect them to live?" Beaty exclaimed.
"You wouldn't believe, a group that starts with United [United Way] lobbied behind the scenes," for the state legislature in Georgia to prevent a living wage from being allowed to be required in Atlanta, Beaty said.
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