Shocking Poverty and New Records for the Stock Market This year’s Thanksgiving holiday, coming more than five years after the Wall Street crash, highlights the devastating impact of mass unemployment and budget cuts on tens of millions of Americans. It underscores as well the increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny elite. Even as food banks across the country report increasing demand and dwindling supplies, the US media is obsessed with snowstorms, travel delays and Black Friday sales. There is barely a mention of the intractable unemployment, poverty, hunger and homelessness that impact millions. Judging by the media coverage, one would never suspect that the United States is a country where, according to a July 2013 report by the Associated Press, “Four out of five US adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives.” In cities throughout the country, people have lined up by the hundreds for Thanksgiving food distributions, recalling the bread lines of the 1930s. Food banks are reporting rising demand not only from the unemployed, but also from the growing ranks of the working poor. The dire conditions created by years of economic slump have been compounded by cutbacks in food stamp benefits that took effect at the beginning of this month, eliminating the equivalent of two days of food every month. Extended unemployment benefits are set to expire for millions of people on December 31, throwing them even further into destitution. Amid such shocking poverty and misery—and incessant claims that there is no money to do anything about it—the stock market is setting new records every day. Over the past week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has hit 16,000, the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index has reached 1,800, and the NASDAQ has once again topped 4,000. The giddy—and unsustainable—rise of stock prices, which is propelling the personal fortunes of the rich and the super-rich to ever more astronomical heights, is being deliberately engineered by the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve Board. Near-zero interest rates and $85 billion a month in cash infusions from the Fed into the financial markets are facilitating an accelerated transfer of wealth from the bottom to the very top of the social ladder. CONTINUE . . . Happy Thanksgiving.