How the other half lives in 2017
Tens of thousands line up at Amazon job fairs as Dow tops 22,000
3 August 2017
“Long ago it was said that ‘one half of the world does not know how the other half lives.’”—Jacob Riis, 1890
Two scenes played out across America yesterday, providing a window onto two separate worlds: one occupied by a small, wealthy elite; the other by the working class, who comprise roughly the bottom 90 percent of the population.
Shortly after the opening bell on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average broke the 22,000 mark for the first time in history, a milestone that was greeted with exuberant headlines in the establishment press and made the lead story on NBC’s evening news program.
The day before, President Trump tweeted: “Corporations have NEVER made as much money as they are making now,” a claim that the fact-checking website Politifact said was partly true, with the caveat that profits were even higher under Barack Obama. From the standpoint of America’s richest 10 percent, who control over 75 percent of the national wealth, Obama’s 2016 claim that “America’s pretty darn great right now” is a statement of fact.
At the very moment the Dow crossed the 22,000 threshold, tens of thousands of workers were lined up waiting to apply for jobs with Amazon in the company’s nationwide job fair, the largest such event in US history.
If the photos of long lines of job-seeking workers encircling buildings and stretching across parking lots recall scenes from the Great Depression, that’s because the conditions of life for masses of working people increasingly resemble the “hungry thirties.”
The World Socialist Web Site spoke to workers representing a diverse…