Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Elizabeth Warren is one of the main characters in her book. She feels that she was a beneficiary of government policies that helped working Americans and the middle class in the years after World War II. For example, she argued with her mother about attending college because her mother was afraid it would plunge the family into debt.
Warren quit college to get married and then returned to college as a married person. She was able to support herself while working part-time as a waitress because her tuition was only fifty dollars a semester. She writes that college students do not have this option today because the cost of college tuition is no longer supportable from the wages of a part-time job. She interviews a millennial named Kai who is unable to enter the field of visual arts and is facing a bleak economic future. Warren writes about the contrasts between her story and that of young people like Kai.
Elizabeth Warren's Parents
The author writes about her parents as people who could support themselves on minimum-wage jobs in the 1960s. In the book, Warren writes about attending a senate debate about the minimum wage. She suddenly feels like she is back in Oklahoma City as a young girl. She recalls what it was like when her father had a heart attack after her brothers had left home. Her father's heart attack plunged the family into a financial crisis after he lost his job. Her mother watched as the family car was repossessed, and she feared that they would also lose their house.
Her mother went back to work answering phones at Sears. Though she held a minimum-wage job, her mother was able to support the family and pay their mortgage. Event though they did not have extra income, the family remained solvent. Warren writes that people are no longer able to support themselves with minimum-wage jobs, as her parents did.
Gina and Darren
Warren writes about a woman named Gina as an example of the way the middle class can't support itself anymore. Gina and her husband, Darren, live in North Carolina and were able to buy a house and save money in years past. However, her husband's job as a roofer had been spotty after he injured himself. She went to work at Walmart to support herself, but she makes very little money and has since had to dip into her savings to support the family. Warren makes the point that Gina did everything right but still can't get by.