Wall Street Celebrates While Poverty Rate Climbs
November 26, 2010
(ChattahBox Political News)—Something is wrong with this picture. Millions of unemployed Americans are suffering, with record numbers lining up for free meals this Thanksgiving. But in the halls of Congress and in the gilded avenues of Wall Street, the poor are barely given a second thought. Congressional Republicans have refused to extend unemployment benefits, saying we can’t afford it. But at the same time, the GOP can afford to give tax cuts to millionaires. And Wall Street is enjoying record profits, while handing out another round of obscenely extravagant bonuses. But companies are sitting on their cash rather than hiring American workers. Greed and heartlessness is the new black. And Manhattan Wall Street traders are celebrating their good fortune, by scooping up swanky artifacts at Christie’s auction house, throwing extravagant parties and dining at the poshest restaurants. Conspicuous consumption is back. Whatever you want to call it–neo-Hooverism, or a return to the Gilded Age of Robber Barons, it’s a disgrace.
In small-town America, millions of unemployed people scrape by on paltry unemployment checks that barely cover the monthly mortgage, while they resort to charity to put food on the table. Others have either exhausted their benefits or are not eligible for relief, and have already lost their homes or they are facing foreclosure. The unemployment rate is hovering near 10 percent, with five people competing for any one job, and the poverty rate has climbed to 14.3 percent, a level unseen since the 1960s. Without unemployment benefits, the poverty rate will certainly climb even higher.
At the end of November, about two million people will lose their unemployment benefits, plunging more families into despair and homelessness, while Republican lawmakers continue to fight for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
And Wall Street parties. A recent New York Times report provides a glimpse into the alternate reality of Wall Street.
“Exuberance made a comeback this year at Josh Koplewicz’s annual Halloween party. More than 1,000 people packed into a 6,000-square-foot space at the Good Units night club in Manhattan, a substantially larger crowd than in the last several years.”
“The open bar was sponsored by Russian Standard vodka, and Mr. Koplewicz, an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs, was able to snag a big headliner: the hip-hop star Lil’ Kim, who performed dressed in a black cat costume.”
“The scene was more extravagant in September, at a 50th birthday party in Hong Kong for Brian Brille, the head of Bank of America Asia Pacific. Mr. Brille, who is well known on the New York social scene, wore a gray Hugh Hefner-esque jacket. Women dressed like Playmates, with feather boas and satin ears, danced behind a pink silk screen.”
Meanwhile, in Loudoun County, Virginia, the richest county in America, a record number of residents showed up at a food pantry to pick up a Thanksgiving meal.