Dow Jones Hits Record High Just as Hungry Millions Form Record Food Lines! Guest Author Nirmalya Chatterjee
North Texas Food Bank distributed 600,000 pounds of food to 25,000 people on November 14, 2020 – by far the largest record amount. Thousands waited for food at a Food Bank in Ohio for over four hours. A two-mile long line of cars waited at an Arizona food bank. As the religious services got shut down due to the pandemic, the Sikh Gurudwara in Queens, New York, turned to feeding thousands of hungry people. Food Banks across the country are overwhelmed by the needs of the hungry people in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. As the pandemic rages on, the demand keeps growing. Many places are forced to ration their distribution. Families with children are the hardest hit as food insecurity has historically hit the families with children. With no financial relief in sight for the immediate future, the situation will probably get worse in the coming months for the hungry millions.
Hunger is not something very new in America. According to US Department of Agriculture, about 10.5% of American families or about 35 Million people experienced food insecurity in 2019. Then came the COVID. Research estimates of Northwestern University suggest that food insecurity doubled earlier this year hitting 23% of American families. More recent data is expected to show even a larger impact. School lunch programs were struggling to meet the rising demand before the pandemic. With children being out of school due to COVID, many don’t have access to school lunches at all.
As the food lines reached their record proportions leading up to Thanksgiving Day, Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the record 30,000 mark on November 23. What an ironic coincidence! Stock market indicators tend to reflect investor sentiments on economic outlook. Dow Jones average has doubled over the last seven years implying the collective wealth of the investors has doubled while poor’s struggle for food has intensified. Recent discovery of COVID vaccines are understandable reasons for the investors to feel upbeat. But what about the daunting pictures of long lines for food – reminiscent of the Great Depression of nineteen thirties. How does one reconcile between the two seemingly very opposing trends running concurrently? How does one explain the disconnect between the investors’ exuberance and the plight of the poor? More importantly, how did we come to that?
Both political parties in the US had equal opportunities to govern since the great depression of nineteen-thirties. They both have received voter endorsements of their respective economic policies. Democrats primarily relied on fiscal stimuli to create employment and ‘prosperity for all’. Republicans, on the other hand, tried to achieve the same goal of economic growth, job creations and ‘prosperity for all’ by spurring investments through lowering taxes. Both sides have been backed by very smart and well-meaning economists with their solid researches. But the gulf between the rich and the poor, in the meantime, has continually widened. And, with ever widening gap, both sides have stubbornly double-downed on their preferred policies and pointed towards the data that support their argument. A common man on the street is unable to find an answer that makes sense. ‘Prosperity for all’ and what John Kenneth Galbraith, the famous economist and US Ambassador to India, fondly called America the ‘The Affluent Society’ remained ever elusive.
Nirmalya Chatterjee is an 11 year resident of Las Vegas. He is a management consultant for consumer products and the hospitality industry. During his professional career, Nirmalya had several senior levels and ex-pat assignments. He was the Chief Financial Officer for Coors Brewing Company; Vice President of Finance for Las Vegas Sands Corporation; Sr. Vice President of Finance, Galaxy Entertainment Macau; and General Manager of Revlon India. Most recently, Nirmalya served as the Chairman of the Hindu Temple and Jain Center of Las Vegas. Nirmalya holds an MBA from the Rutgers University.
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