Discuss if there is an ongoing parallel between today's real estate crisis and the issues outlined in The Jungle.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a real interesting question.  The short answer would be, depends on whom you are asking.  I think that the one overriding connection between both Sinclair's depiction as well as the ongoing challenges in the modern setting with regards to the housing crisis is that regular people, middle class or individuals on the lower economic end, are left holding the bag.  These are the people who are left challenged by the larger configurations of capitalism.  Certainly, one could argue that there consumers should have exercised more prudent judgment in obtaining loans or mortgages for homes that could never have been paid.  These arguments were applied to people in Sinclair's time, suggesting that they should have left jobs that were abusing their workers.  Yet, I think that while these arguments have validity, they do not fully represent the reality that a configuration where individuals are let loose to make unprecedented profit without any sort of guidance from the government is bound to feature abuses of power.  I think that a strong connection between both settings would be this need for oversight or some type of assistance for those who wind up on the lower end of reality.  The predicaments of Jurgis and Ona as well as the family of four that is being crushed under a mountain of debt are very similar in that both are victims to capitalism.  While individuals could argue that one has to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps," it is a fairly cold and detached social or governmental order that would cut these individuals loose and force them to fend for themselves after actively encouraging them to partake in the capitalist order.

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