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I just want you to read two articles and write 2 pages about it. 

Begin RR 3 with an introductory paragraph that briefly summarizes the readings, as well as grabs your audience’s attention, and establishes a thesis statement related to Fessler & Tolentino’s articles.

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The summarizing sentences within your opening paragraph should introduce the authors, titles, authors’ thesis, and possibly other key points if directly connected to your own thesis.  

The introduction should attempt to integrate summarizing language (facts) with analytical language (opinions) in ways that appeal to an audience and therefore grab attention.  

Body Paragraphs

Analyze the points in Fessler & Tolentino’s articles by thinking about your own beliefs about the issues discussed. You should be using first person throughout these paragraphs.

Do you believe in its current state that poverty is an endless cycle? If so, do you have any ideas of how to end the 

cycle?  If not, why does it seem to 

many people that poverty is inescapable? 

Throughout the article, Tolentino provides examples of how the Gig Economy has affected society.  How do you feel about the rise of the Gig Economy?  

Remember to quote both readings at least once to support your ideas & remember that your body paragraphs should have clear thesis connections.  


Conclude RR 3 with a paragraph that reiterates the main ideas of your essay and leaves your audience with a powerful concluding sentence.  Most importantly, points that were not previously developed in the essay should not be included in the conclusion.  


·  Font: Times New Roman, 12 point 

·  Double space 

·  Due Date: Tuesday April 12th by midnight 


The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death by Jia Tolentino, March 22, 2017


Last September, a very twenty-first-century type of story appeared on the company blog of the ride-sharing app Lyft. “Long-time Lyft driver and mentor, Mary, was nine months pregnant when she picked up a passenger the night of July 21st,” the post began. “About a week away from her due date, Mary decided to drive for a few hours after a day of mentoring.” You can guess what happened next.

Mary, who was driving in Chicago, picked up a few riders, and then started having contractions. “Since she was still a week away from her due date,” Lyft wrote, “she assumed they were simply a false alarm and continued driving.” As the contractions continued, Mary decided to drive to the hospital. “Since she didn’t believe she was going into labor yet,” Lyft went on, “she stayed in driver mode, and sure enough— ping!— she received a ride request en route to the hospital.”

“Luckily,” as Lyft put it, the passenger requested a short trip. After completing it, Mary went to the hospital, where she was informed that she was in labor. She gave birth to a daughter, whose picture appears in the post. (She’s wearing a “Little Miss Lyft” onesie.) The post concludes with a call for similar stories: “Do you have an exciting Lyft story you’d love to share? Tweet us your story at @lyft_CHI!”

Mary’s story looks different to different people. Within the ghoulishly cheerful Lyft public- relations machinery, Mary is an exemplar of hard work and dedication—the latter being, perhaps, hard to come by in a company that refuses to classify its drivers as employees. Mary’s entrepreneurial spirit—taking ride requests while she was in labor!—is an “exciting” example of how seamless and flexible app-based employment can be. Look at that hustle! You can

make a quick buck with Lyft anytime, even when your cervix is dilating.

Lyft does not provide its drivers paid maternity leave or health insurance. (It offers to connect drivers with an insurance broker, and helpfully notes that “the Affordable Care Act offers many choices to make sure you’re covered.”) A third- party platform called SherpaShare, which some drivers use to track their earnings, found, in 2015, that Lyft drivers in Chicago net about eleven dollars per trip. Perhaps, as Lyft suggests, Mary kept accepting riders while experiencing contractions because “she was still a week away from her due date,” or “she didn’t believe she was going into labor yet.” Or maybe Mary kept accepting riders because the gig economy has further normalized the circumstances in which earning an extra eleven dollars can feel more important than seeking out the urgent medical care that these quasi-employers do not sponsor. In the other version of Mary’s story, she’s an unprotected worker in precarious circumstances. “I can’t pretend to know Mary’s economic situation,” Bryan Menegus at Gizmodo wrote, when the story first appeared. “Maybe she’s an heiress who happens to love the freedom of chauffeuring strangers from place to place on her own schedule. But that Lyft, for some reason, thought that this would reflect kindly on them is perhaps the most horrifying part.”

It does require a fairly dystopian strain of doublethink for a company to celebrate how hard and how constantly its employees must work to make a living, given that these companies are themselves setting the terms. And yet this type of faux-inspirational tale has been appearing more lately, both in corporate advertising and in the news. Fiverr, an online freelance marketplace that promotes itself as being for “the lean entrepreneur”—as its name


suggests, services advertised on Fiverr can be purchased for as low as five dollars— recently attracted ire for an ad campaign called “In Doers We Trust.” One ad, prominently displayed on some New York City subway cars, features a woman staring at the camera with a look of blank determination. “You eat a coffee for lunch,” the ad proclaims. “You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”

Fiverr, which had raised a hundred and ten million dollars in venture capital by November, 2015, has more about the “In Doers We Trust” campaign on its Web site. In one video, a peppy female voice-over urges “doers” to “always be available,” to think about beating “the trust-fund kids,” and to pitch themselves to everyone they see, including their dentist. A Fiverr press release about “In Doers We Trust” states, “The campaign positions Fiverr to seize today’s emerging zeitgeist of entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with less. It pushes against bureaucratic overthinking, analysis-paralysis, and excessive whiteboarding.” This is the jargon through which the essentially cannibalistic nature of the gig economy is dressed up as an aesthetic. No one wants to eat coffee for lunch or go on a bender of sleep deprivation—or answer a call from a client while having sex, as recommended in the video. It’s a stretch to feel cheerful at all about the Fiverr marketplace, perusing the thousands of listings of people who will record any song, make any happy-birthday video, or design any book cover for five dollars. I’d guess that plenty of the people who advertise services on Fiverr would accept some “whiteboarding” in exchange for employer-sponsored health insurance.

At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always

connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear. Human-interest stories about the beauty of some person standing up to the punishments of late capitalism are regular features in the news, too. I’ve come to detest the local-news set piece about the man who walks ten or eleven or twelve miles to work—a story that’s been filed from Oxford, Alabama; from Detroit, Michigan; from Plano, Texas. The story is always written as a tearjerker, with praise for the person’s uncomplaining attitude; a car is usually donated to the subject in the end. Never mentioned or even implied is the shamefulness of a job that doesn’t permit a worker to afford his own commute.

There’s a painful distance between the chipper narratives surrounding labor and success in America and the lived experience of workers. A similar conflict drove Nathanael West, in 1934, to publish the novel “A Cool Million,” which satirized the Horatio Alger bootstrap fables that remained popular into the Great Depression. “Alger is to America what Homer was to the Greeks,” West once wrote. His protagonist in “A Cool Million,” Lemuel Pitkin, is an innocent, energetic striver, tasked with saving his mother’s house from foreclosure. A series of Alger-esque plot twists ensue. But Pitkin, rather than triumphing, ends up losing his teeth, his eye, his leg, his scalp, and finally his thumb. Morris Dickstein, in his book “Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression,” notes, “The novel ends with Lem as a vaudeville clown being beaten nightly until he simply falls apart.” A former President named Shagpoke Whipple gives a speech valorizing Pitkin’s fate, extolling “the right of every American boy to go into the world and . . . make his fortune by industry.” Whipple describes Pitkin’s dismemberment—“lovingly,” Dickstein adds—and tells his audience that, through Pitkin’s hard work and enthusiastic martyrdom, “America became again American.”


One Family’s Story Shows How The Cycle Of Poverty Is Hard To Break By Pam Fessler, May 7, 2014 npr.org/2014/05/07/309734339/one-familys-story-shows-how-the-cycle-of-poverty-is-hard-to- break

Desiree Metcalf’s story is heartbreaking, but among the 46 million Americans who are poor today, her story is not unique. Metcalf is 24 years old. She’s the mother of three little girls — ages 6, 4 and 2. They all have different fathers. “That about sums me up, I think,” she says. Metcalf is sitting on the floor of her two- bedroom apartment in the small town of Bath, in western New York. A fish tank gurgles in the background. A tiny kitten peeks out from under the furniture. Her youngest daughter is curled up under a blue blanket, head resting on her mother’s lap. Metcalf got married two years ago to a man who isn’t the father of any of her children, but he recently left her for someone else. “I just feel like I get one piece of good news that makes me [think] life isn’t gonna be that bad, and then here comes 30 things to basically push me right back down in this hole that I feel like I’ve been trying to dig myself out of for the last probably 15 years,” she says. Metcalf did not just become poor. A lot of bad things happened to get her there. Like many others who are poor, she doesn’t have just one or two problems, but a whole pile of them. She was raised by a single mother, who was also poor. Metcalf says they didn’t always get along. And things came to a head when she was 12 years old.

“My mom and I got in a fight and she told me she was going to kill me,” she recalls. “And I wrapped a belt around my neck and told her I would do it for her. I ended up in a psychiatric hospital and from there I went to foster care.” That meant moving from home to home to home. Metcalf says she attended 26 different schools. “Seems I’d just get my bags unpacked and it was time to move again,” she says. ‘So Here I Am’ Metcalf, who has dark blond hair pulled back from a tired face, admits she’s been responsible for some of her own problems. She says she used to be an alcoholic and was into self-harm, which means she cut herself to feel the pain. Today she has tattoos on her arms to cover the scars. Metcalf says she also smoked “like a chimney.” “I first knew Desiree when she was 15, and I was in a different agency working with her family with the goal of reunification,” says Marian Rezelman, now with a local nonprofit community action agency, Pro Action, still working with Metcalf and her family. “She did come back and graduated from high school and was all set to go to college and then turned up pregnant,” Rezelman says. And this is not at all unusual for girls who’ve been in foster care. Nearly half become pregnant by the time they’re 19. Metcalf had a


full scholarship to a university in Florida. She knew her life had taken a detour. “That was my ticket out of here,” Metcalf says. “So here I am — not in Florida.” Like many before her, she carried her poverty into adulthood, doing odd jobs with periods of homelessness and hunger. But more disturbing is that poverty is now starting to take its toll on her children, especially her eldest daughter. Metcalf says she recently tried to run away from home in the middle of the night. “She’s got some emotional issues,” Metcalf says. “And we went through everything from making ourselves puke after we eat to running away to wanting to kill themselves. And she’s 6 years old.” That might lead one to ask: Isn’t there some help this family can get? In fact, there’s plenty. The government and charities have spent thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars on Metcalf and her family already — food stamps, health care, housing, Head Start. Many of the programs Metcalf has participated in emerged almost 50 years ago after President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty. But the programs clearly haven’t been enough to get her up on her own two feet. One reason is that Metcalf can’t get a job even though the government spent $3,000 to train her as a certified nursing assistant, something she’s always wanted to do. But she ran into a problem faced by many low- income workers: transportation. Her car was recently totaled by someone backing out of a driveway. “So now my vehicle is gone and [I] have no way to get back and forth to work reliably, and

unfortunately, there’s not much in this town as of work,” she says. Mass transit is virtually nonexistent in this rural area. Also, with her husband gone, Metcalf now has something else to worry about. “If you get a job and they take you off public assistance, then they don’t pay for day care,” she notes, adding that it’s an expense that would very likely eat up most of her earnings. How To Possibly Come Out Ahead Metcalf faces another situation common among low-income workers. She knows if she starts making money, other benefits — like food stamps — will be cut or eliminated. It’s not a chosen lifestyle. Certainly there is abuse out there. There’s abuse no matter what it is. But it’s not a chosen lifestyle. Kathryn Muller, Steuben County social services commissioner Just recently, the family’s food stamp benefit dropped from $700 a month to $200 because her daughter started to receive $744 a month from Social Security to treat her emotional issues and her husband began working part time at McDonald’s. Of course, now he’s gone. “I guess to me the system seems backward. I mean, they should be more for helping you, not kind of setting you up to fail, so to speak,” Metcalf says. And there’s one more thing. Although Metcalf is only 24, she’s missing most of her top front teeth. She says it’s from hereditary gum disease. Medicaid paid $3,000 for a partial bridge, but now she can’t use it because her other teeth are crumbling.


Rezelman points out that Metcalf could get more dental work, but there are no providers who accept Medicaid in the Bath area. Metcalf would have to go to Rochester to have the work done, but again, she has no transportation. “It’s distressing because you have to be so motivated and capable to navigate those systems and come out ahead,” Rezelman says. It’s a complaint you hear again and again, not just from those who get government aid, but sometimes from providers. Kathryn Muller is the commissioner of social services for Steuben County, where Metcalf lives. Muller says her office provides an array of services to help the county’s struggling families. “Really, it’s sometimes hand-holding. It’s working with employers and putting case managers with individuals who are starting employment and helping them,” she says. But she says sometimes their hands are tied by state and federal laws. For example, welfare recipients can meet their work requirements by going to school, but only for a year. “One year is great. It’s better than what used to be, but you can’t get an associate’s degree in one year,” says Muller. Even though, she notes, one of the main reasons people can’t get work is a lack of education. Muller says some of the limits on government aid are there to prevent people from abusing the system, but she thinks there’s also a misperception about the poor. “It’s not a chosen lifestyle. Certainly there is abuse out there. There’s abuse no matter what it is. But it’s not a chosen lifestyle,” she says.

Metcalf could not agree more. She just wishes it wasn’t such a struggle getting help. Still, she hopes someday to get back to college. “I haven’t given up my dream yet. I just keep putting it on the back burner until it ain’t raining so hard, I guess,” she says.

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