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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Ehrenreich, Barbara (1941 - )
"Some of us still get all weepy when we think about the Gaia Hypothesis, the idea that earth is a big furry goddess-creature who resembles everybody's mom in that she knows what's best for us. But if you look at the historical record -- Krakatoa, Mt. Vesuvius, Hurricane Charley, poison ivy, and so forth down the ages -- you have to ask yourself: Whose side is she on, anyway?"

-- Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is a social critic and essayist. Her book Nickel and Dimed (2001) described her attempt to live on low-wage jobs and became a national bestseller in the United States, selling over 1 million copies; her companion book, Bait and Switch, was released in September 2005 and discusses her attempt to find a white-collar job. She is a prolific journalist who peppers her writing with a sardonic sense of humor.

Born Barbara Alexander to Isabelle Isely, her father was a copper miner who went on to study at Carnegie Mellon University and become an executive at the Gillette Corporation. In 1963, she graduated with a BA in chemical physics from Reed College and in 1968 she received a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University. She decided not to pursue a career in science after graduating, citing her interest in social change, and instead became involved in politics as an activist. She met her first husband, John Ehrenreich, doing anti-war activism in New York City. In 1970, she gave birth to a daughter, Rosa, and later had a son, Ben. She divorced Ehrenreich and in 1983 married Gary Stevenson, who was then working as a warehouse employee.

From 1991 to 1997, she was a regular columnist for Time magazine. Currently, Ehrenreich is a regular columnist with The Progressive.

Ehrenreich has also written for the New York Times, Mother Jones, The Atlantic Monthly, Ms, The New Republic, Z Magazine, In These Times,, and other publications. In 1998 and 2000, she taught essay writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2004, she wrote a guest column for one month for the New York Times while regular columnist Thomas Friedman was on leave writing a book.

She is an atheist and the vice chair of the Democratic Socialists of America.


"If that's how it all started, then we might as well face the fact that what's left out there is a great deal of shrapnel and a whole bunch of cinders (one of which is, fortunately, still hot enough and close enough to be good for tanning)."

"The Republicans hardly need a party and the cumbersome cadre of low-level officials that form one; they have a bankroll as large as the Pentagon's budget, dozens of fatted PACs, and the well-advertised support of the Christian deity."

"The one regret I have about my own abortions is that they cost money that might otherwise have been spent on something more pleasurable, like taking the kids to movies and theme parks."

"Frankly, I adore your catchy slogan, "Adoption, not Abortion," although no one has been able to figure out, even with expert counseling, how to use adoption as a method of birth control, or at what time of the month it is most effective."

"A child is a temporarily disabled and stunted version of a larger person, whom you will someday know. Your job is to help them overcome the disabilities associated with their size and inexperience so that they get on with being that larger person."

"No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots."

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