By Chet Yarbrough
Written by: Linda Tirado
Narrated by: Linda Tirado
“Hand to Mouth” is Linda Tirado’s perception and experience of being poor in America. Conservative media rants, and liberal paeans to Linda Tirado’s memoir infer guilt more than understanding. Some conservative’ pundits believe any American who works hard can get ahead. Many liberal’ pundits believe most Americans born poor will remain poor. Liberal’ pundits praise Tirado’s story because it reinforces their belief in “born poor, remain poor” while conservative’ pundits attack Tirado’s credibility because her story denies equal opportunity. SCREEN GRAB–CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS OF TIRADO’ POVERTY TALE. If Tirado’s facts are only partly untrue, it assuages conservative guilt about belief in equal opportunity.
Even if Tirado’s facts are only partly true, promotion of her story assuages liberal’s guilt for being personally successful.
What is missing from a fair understanding of Tirado’s memoir is its fundamental truth; i.e. being a minimum wage employee in America is grindingly difficult. The grind overtakes many because there is not enough food to eat, health care for common ailments, or education to break the cycle of poverty. Those who break the cycle do so as much from luck, as from ability or hard work. Often, when they succeed, they presume the same can be done by all.
Tirado may be a case in point. She breaks the cycle with some skill as a writer but a lot of luck. Her story is picked up by the media. Her story is told every day by other minimum wage workers seen on main street; e.g. the people serving hamburgers, cleaning houses, waiting tables. Tirado’s story just became the chosen one. Tirado will have a whole new set of problems to face in her life but they will come from her own personality; not the exigencies of American society that chooses to ignore the plight of minimum wage workers.