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The Roaring Twenties and 21st Century: the Same Problems a Hundred Years Later

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Almost a hundred years ago, Jazz music fills the streets, flappers smoking outside while cars bustle down the streets. It is the roaring twenties. A time of joy and an ever-growing culture. Compared to today’s culture of technology and millennials, it feels like we have changed drastically from simpler times. However, that is far from the truth. While we no longer have jazz music sweeping the youth or flappers many of the core problems of the twenties has not changed. Problems such as economic inequality is just as bad as it was back in the twenties and with immigration.

The 1920’s saw a rise in socialite culture and along with that came a wealth gap. According to research done by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, both economists, the top 0.1% shared around 23% to 24% of the nation’s wealth back in the 20’s. Back in 2013, the top 0.1% shared around 22% of the nation’s wealth. That is only a 1% difference. It has been almost a century and yet America is still struggling with economic inequality. While the research also shows that the gap decreased during the 30’s and continued to lower up until the late 70’s, It has risen to the extreme it was in the twenties in only thirties years. Another problem with the current economic status is that the so called “middle rich” are slipping away from the 1%. Middle rich are the people who are not rich enough to be a part of the 1%. More research done by the same people reveal that the amount of wealth shared by the middle rich has fallen to 35%, the 20’s saw the rate drop to 33%. While that is still a large amount of money, the middle rich encompassed many more people as it is considered the top 10 % to 1%. America has had years to fix the economic crisis of inequality yet there has been no change. While there was change in between the 1920’s and present day, that has seemed to disappear. Immigration has been an issue that has been hard to deal with for decades. The 20’s saw a rise in immigration. People came from all different cultures but mostly from southern and eastern Europe. However, many Americans did not take immigration well. Ideas such as “Americanization” and “nativism” became stronger ideals pushed by many Americans. They wanted to force ideal American lifestyles onto immigrants. In today’s society, immigration is a hot topic. The idea of Americanization is now abandoned and now deportation is what people want. This problem escalated to the point where the government had to set immigration laws. Something that had rarely been used back in the twenties. Today the government is fighting for stricter immigration laws. While many people are protesting the idea of deporting which is very different from how things were in the 1920’s, the fact is there is still debates over the same issues reveals how far things have changed.

The 1920’s is considered history but the problems that plagued America are still affecting the twenty first century. It is surprising that problems such the wealth gap and immigration are still big problems today. No matter how much society changes its face, the root problems will not change much. Changing these issues may seem like a daunting task if nothing has been done since the twenties but this generation could be the ones to truly change the important issues.

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