Eligibility Standard for “Companies that are Too Big to Fail”



Barack Obama has signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumers Act in July 2010. This law allows the government to oversight and regulate financial companies that are critical to the economy; however, the government finds it difficult to determine the eligibility standards for the companies. At this point, the regulators have decided that any banks with over $50 billion worth of assets will automatically fall under the standard for additional regulations, but as for financial firms, such as hedge fund and insurance companies, the regulators will need more information and guidelines to determine the standard. The government claims to formulate the standards by this summer, while the deadline for the grand decision is January 2012.


The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Act, which increases government regulation and eliminate certain economical freedom, is opposite to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which gave financial more freedom by allowing them to consolidate. The Gramm-Leach-Blieley has repealed the prohibition of combining insurance, securities, and banking by the Glass-steagall Act of 1933. By eliminating such restriction, the US economy has move a tiny step closer toward a free economy. However, the US economy has taken a larger step toward government regulated economy after the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Act.




Article Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/business/13regulate.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=government%20regulation&st=cse


The Disputed Election of 2000- George W. Bush v Albert Arnold “Al” Gore, Jr.


I strongly believe that the section concerning the presidential election in 2000 deserve more elaboration to explore the different aspects. The presidential election in 2000 is perhaps the election with most suspicious and debatable results in American history. The outcome of the election ended with Bush’s victory by a tiny margin; however, it was not a solid victory for George Bush, as there was a widespread confusion at the votes in the decisive state, Florida. The disputes in the vote-counting administration in Florida was humiliating for the America, as the other countries jeered at the failure of our technological advanced nation.

Moreover, it was also suspicious that the outcome of the election was later left for the Supreme Court justices to decide. On December 12, 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the recounting of Florida ballots was terminated, and the decision of the ballot was left for the Florida’s governor, Jeb Bush, who happen to be George W. Bush’s brother. With Jeb Bush declaring George W. Bush has won the state, the tie of the election was broken and the seat of president was given to the Republican candidate.

The presidential election of 2000 certainly has given rise to suspicion and even conspiracy theories in the public. Some has suspected that the mistake in the Florida ballot was carefully planned for Jeb Bush to declare his brother as the president. Due to the uncertainties and disputes in the election process, I believe Eric Foner should devote another page to explore the other aspects of the election process.


“Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” and “World Wide Suicide”


With the lyrics composed in 1956, “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” was a very influential song during the black civil rights movements in the 1950s and 1960s. It was one of the protesters favorite song during their organized walk outs. Although the lyrics of the song is rather subtle, since it did not refer to any specific events or movements, the intention of the song was, nevertheless, apparent to the singers and listeners. The melody and the repetition of “eyes on the prize” were very effective in reminding the protesters to continue to pursuit their ultimate goals.

Pearl Jam’s “World Wide Suicide” (2006), on the other hand, is a song that was written to express the population’s anger toward the Iraq War. In contrast to the subtle “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” “World Wide Suicide” is a little more explicit in the message. There were many key words, such as “war,” “man-made hell,” and “President writes a check, while others pay” that were apparent to the audiences during war time. Moreover, compare to “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” “World Wide Suicide” is more of a song of complaint than a song of encouragement for the protesters.


Feminism: Women and the Kitcen


The Kitchen Debate by Nixon and Khrushchev in 1959 has embraced many American ideologies at that time, and the role of women in the kitchen is one of them. In the 1950s, it was widely conceived that women ought to spend most of her time in the kitchen and doing various house works. Although Vice President Nixon did not explicit stated it, he has implied that the electronic appliances were so great that they are the equivalent of a woman. The Kitchen Debate further emphasized the fact that most American men at that time regarded their spouses as mere appliances in the kitchen instead of human beings. I believe that the underlying theme in the Kitchen Debate has a certain degree of influence on Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, a publication that has awakened the public feminist consciousness.

With the influence from The Feminine Mystique, American women have realized that, by tradition, they have been enslaved in the kitchen. In addition, they were more conscious of the unequal treatments they faced in work forces. With this new consciousness in their minds, they have pushed for more reforms in civil rights movements. In response to the changes in public opinions, the government has passed various gender equality laws, such as the Equal Pay Act in 1963, which prohibited different wage standards base on genders, and The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which eliminated discrimination by both gender and race.


Martin Luther King- “I have a Dream”


Martin Luther King is the most well known civil rights warrior who fought against the racial injustices against black people. King became an active in civil rights campaign during his protest in the Montgomery bus boycott, in which a black woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus. The Montgomery bus boycott inspired King to fight racial inequality with non-violent protests. Consequently, many of Martin Luther King’s speeches and movements emphasize the black citizens as part of America, appeal to Christians with ideas from the bible, and scream for the establishment of freedom for other races.

The most famous speech given by Martin Luther King, “I have a Dream”, echoed the demand of equality and freedom, and envisioned the peace among whites, blacks, and people of other races. King’s speech also indicated that even in the 1960s, racial discrimination carried out by the white majorities and state governments were still prevailing. The same sort of racial suppression still persists even though the Civil War had ended one hundred years ago.


The Atmosphere of Fear

The fear of communism was the driving force behind all of the social crisis during the Cold War. Citizens were constantly in fear of each others, the governmental inspection, and the invisible enemies. Whether spies actually existed or not, the common Americans were suspecting others for holding unpopular, though often harmless, ideologies or fearing their neighbors for falsely reporting them as communists. The fear of communism had caused the jailing of many screen writers, school teachers, and many other innocent citizens; the fear also powered many unnecessary spy trails and unfair jail sentences.

Perhaps if the atmosphere of fear did not exist during the cold war. The cold war could have been limited to the foreign policies instead of extending to the paranoia in the nation. If the irrational fear was not prevalent, the civil rights movements, such as NAACP, would not be as restrained; W.E.B. Du Bois, a civil rights warrior, and Paul Robeson, a prominent black actor, wouldn’t been unreasonably charged in court. Moreover, if the fear had not been so influential, the labor unions would not have been restrained by Truman’s doctrines. In many ways, the unnecessary strong fear of communism has restricted America to advance as a nation with more equality and freedom.

The influence of the atmosphere of fear is still noticeable today. For instance, although the word communism is not heavily criticized today, it nevertheless has a negative connotation. Americans are not very comfortable with communism even today. We can see that by observing the students in elementary school to high school. There are often several immature children who would unreasonably call Chinese or Russian immigrants communists as a form of mockery. The immature actions of such students can be credited to the biased American history textbooks, which often emphasize the chaotic and unpleasant communistic revolutions and de-emphasize the unjust actions of the United States.


New Deal- The Trojan Horse

Throughout the history of United States, reforms and new policies have always encountered as invasion of rights by certain skeptics. Due to the political culture of America, politicians are very reserved about letting the federal government to become more powerful. This has remain true even during the Great Depression. Although the entire nation was desperate for solutions to their economics disparity, many citizens were still conscious of their political rights and freedom despite of their poverty.

The political cartoon above has demonstrated this idea perfectly. When Franklin Roosevelt proposed his New Deal as the solution to the Great Depression to the Congress, certain politicians have viewed the reform as an invasion to the Congress. The cartoonist believed that the New Deal was making an attempt to obtain more power than it should by taking advantage of the economic disaster. The cartoon is referring to the policies that expands the power of the federal government, such as the establishment of Civilian Conservation Corps (CVC) and Public-Works Projects (PWA). Those two policies have hired many civilians for the constructions of parks, roads, bridges, and other public buildings, and critics complained that these policies are gaining control of the citizens by creating employment opportunities. Certain critics also considered such policies as a step toward socialism and communism. They believed that such economic policies are Trojan horses that would transform our capitalistic nation to socialistic/communistic country.


The Great Depression: Breadline and World’s Highest Standard of Living

Morris Huberland - Bread Line. late 1930s. Gelatin silver print: 6¾ x 7¼ in.

1937 photo by Margaret Bourke-White – Breadline during Louisville Flood.

The breadlines during the Great Depression are some of the most symbolic characteristics of the Great Depression. The breadlines were unusually long and crowded, despite of the fact that the agency were providing little bread to each individuals. Although most of people on the breadline were capable laborers, the lack of employment opportunities made them unable to make any production and forced them to wait on a crowded line for most of the day-time. It was quite tragic, since many capable workers were forced to accept the little ration provided by the government. Certain city folks found it unbearable and relocated themselves to rural areas to farm, in hope of using their labor to produce actual food.

The two images above are illustrations of the long, crowded breadlines during the Great Depression. The first picture depicts the breadline on a cold day, in which many people wear wearing heavy jackets and hiding their hands in the pockets. They have no other choice other than waiting there. They could not produce food in the city (or not fast enough, since growing vegetation in the backyard cannot guarantee a stable food source),  so they had no choice but to accept their only stable source of food. On the other hand, the second picture portrays the irony of America’s economics collapse. Just several years ago, the Americans were celebrating the lavish lifestyle and liberal behaviors of the Roaring Twenties; however, by the time of the depression, Americans no longer had the money and leisure to enjoy their freedom and the world’s highest standard of living. Nothing remained but the ad board, which ironically depicted their faded prosperity during the age of wide-scale poverty.


Roaring Twenties and the Flappers

The Roaring Twenties are recalled as the crazy age of social revolutions of sexes and behaviors. The social revolutionists from that era, especially the flappers (the young, sexually liberated women), were ultimately violating the religious and social taboos that were once strictly enforced. It was probably beyond the imagination of most Americans before the 1900s.

A video depicting our grannies, the women of Roaring Twenties, is located at the bottom of the post. The video, which has footage taken from the 1920s, illustrates the gregarious and luxurious life-styles of the brave women of the age of breaking former social taboos.

*It is worthwhile to note that Foner has described the reaction from Europe as positively amazed and envious. The actual wording is reproduced here: “Observers from Europe, where class divisions were starkly visible in work, politics, and social relations, marveled at the uniformity of American Life.”

I understand that Foner do not wish to go more depth for this topic, but I find his claim to be single-opinionated and without enough supporting evidences. Certainly, some Europeans probably had admired the liberal lifestyles of Americans; however, it’s hard to imagine that conservatives and religious Europeans would give recognition to the flappers. Foner’s claim probably had not given us a very accurate image, or is not well-supported enough to convince certain readers.


The Cause of a World War- the Alliance System

Map of World with Participants in World War I :

Allies- in green

Central Powers- in orange

Neutral- in grey

The triggering event cause of World War I was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in 1914. The fact that the assassination did not lead to a war of two nations, but a war among many nations around the whole world, has to do with the alliance system in the era. Although the actual causes of the war are complicated, the escalation of the size of the war can be partly attributed to the alliance treaties.

For the readers’ convenience,  some of the entrances of the participants will be listed below:

1. Austria-Hungary- declared war on Serbia due to the assassination.

2. Serbia- became a participant by Austria-Hungary’s war declaration.

3. Russia- allied to Serbia by their treaty

4. Germany- allied to Austria-Hungary by their treaty

5. France- allied to Russia

6. Britain- allied to France. Since Britain has entered the war, her many colonies have became participants, whether with direct military support or financial support.

7. Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa- entered the war because of their ties with Britain

8. Japan- entered the war due to its treaty with Britain.

As we can see, over 10 additional nations were involved because of their alliance treaties with other nations. Although some nations have entered the war with reasons of their own, it is undeniable that the alliance treaties were strong factors for the escalation of the war to a world-wide scale.


The Short-lived Amendment: Prohibition

Lips that Touch Liquor Shall not Touch Ours

Prohibition is one of the drastic changes that happened during the course of World War I. Looking through the course of American history, it is perhaps unbelievable that alcohol, one of the foundations of pleasure for many citizens, would be banned. On top of that, the banned was even written in an amendment, which is ridiculously difficult to be passed. Although Eric Foner only spent a little more than half page on the topic, he was able to inform us about many details of the topic. In three paragraphs, he had informed me things that I didn’t know, such as 1) how the Anti-German attitude generated hatred toward German breweries, 2) labor reformers wanted prohibition to have a more disciplined work force, and 3) the Baptists and Methodist were opposing drinking in a political way. Foner may not have given us a full picture of prohibition, but he did well to inform us by squeezing in as much information as possible in three paragraphs.


Mother By Choice

The Birth-Control Movement is one of the heated reforms in the 1900s. Since women were gaining power as they participate in the labor force, they were demanding more rights as a human being and as a citizen of the United States. This movement was changing the role of the government because it demanded the government to further interfere with the sexual behaviors of its citizens. It would demand the government to allow people to use contraceptive devices, which were banned during the Progressive Era. Margaret Sanger, one of the birth-control reformers, was arrested and sentenced to prison for distributing contraceptive devices. The issue of birth control was also religious, since having intercourse for the sake of pleasure was considered as a sin by Christians. By allowing the usage of birth control devices, the government would get many hassles from religious organizations.


Immigrants and Ellis Island

Medical examination Ellis Island, 1910, from Library of Congress


Ellis Island, 1911, from Library of Congress

The pictures are from the Library of Congress. Although both pictures depict the immigrants in Ellis Island around the same time, the pictures are taken under different circumstances. The first one was taken while the officers were giving medical examinations to the immigrants, so the photographer can record a natural depiction of the scene. On the other hand, the second picture was taken while everyone was aware of the photographer, so most of the people in the second picture was looking straight to the camera. Despite of the different atmosphere in the photographs, both pictures convey a sense of weariness. This is reasonable because the long and tedious immigration processes could only wear out the liveliness of the immigrants and officers.


A Letter from a Member of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment

The letter below was written by a soldier, who refers to himself as E.D.W., of 54th Massachusetts Regiment to a newspaper editor. The letter informs the editor about the regiment’s last battle, which took place in Olustee. The 54th Massachusetts were the first regiment to support the 8th U.S., which is the first colored regiment and the first Union force in the Olustee battle field. The 8th U.S. regiment already suffered many damages, and the battle field was still very intense. Another regiment entered the battlefield afterward, but they soon left. “Things were too warm for them,” as E.D.W. had commented.

While E.D.W. has given us some details about the battle, he also complained about how his colored regiment has not receive salary for nearly a year. The white troops would receive their pay every 2 months. There is no reason to discriminate, commented E.D.W.. The black soldiers fought as bravely, if not more bravely, than the white soldiers. Yet the 54th Massachusetts did not receive the same wage or ration at the same interval. Although this letter was meant to be a report of a battle, it is also a request to make the media report the inequalities that black soldiers suffered. This letter is a critical, primary evidence that displays the racial injustice that black people suffered during the Civil War.


April 2, 1864
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

For the Christian Recorder.

MR. EDITOR: – Sir: – It is with pleasure that I now seat myself to inform you concerning our last battle: thus we were in Co. B, on the 20th of Feb. Mr. Editor, I am not sitting down to inform about this battle without knowing something about it.

The battle took place in a grove called Olustee, with the different regiments as follows: First was the 8th U.S.; they were cut up badly, and they were the first colored regiment in the battle. The next were the 54th Mass., which I belong to; the next were the 1st N.C. In they went and fired a few rounds, but they soon danced out, things were too warm for them. The firing was very warm, and it continued for about three hours and a half. The 54th was the last off the field. When the 1st N.C. found out it was so warm they soon left, and then there was none left to cover the retreat. But captain J. Walton, of the 54th, of our company, with shouts and cheers, cried, “Give it to them my brave boys! Give it to them!” As I turned around, I observed Col. E.N. Holowell standing with a smile upon his countenance, as though the boys were playing a small game of ball.

There was none left but the above named, and Lieut. Col. Hooper, and also Col. Montgomery; those were the only field officers that were left with us. If we had been like those regiments that were ahead, I think not only in my own mind, but in the minds of the field officers, such as Col. Hooper and Col. Montgomery, that we would have suffered much loss, is plain to be seen, for the enemy had taken some three of four of their pieces.

When we got there we rushed in double-quick, with a command from the General, “Right into line.” We commenced with a severe firing, and the enemy soon gave way for some two hundred yards. Our forces were light, and we were compelled to fall back with much dissatisfaction.

Now it seems strange to me that we do not receive the same pay and rations as the white soldiers. Do we not fill the same ranks? Do we not cover the same space of ground? Do we not take up the same length of ground in the grave-yard that others do? The ball does not miss the black man and strike the white, nor the white and strike the black. But, sir, at that time there is no distinction made, they strike one as much as another. The black men have to go through the same hurling of musketry, and the same belching of cannonading as white soldiers do.

It has been nearly a year since we have received any pay; but the white soldiers get their pay every two months; ($13.00 per month,) but when it comes to the poor negro he gets none. The 54th left Boston on the 28th of May, 1863. In time of enlisting members for the regiment, they were promised the same pay, and the same rations as other soldiers. Since that time the government must have charged them more for clothing than any other regiment; for those who died in a month or two after their enlistment, it was actually said that they were in debt to the government. Those who bled and died on James’ Island and Wagner, are the same. Why is it not so with other soldiers? Because our faces are black. We are put beneath the very lowest rioters of New York. We have never brought any disgrace by cowardice, on the State we left.

Co. B, 54th Mass., Vol.
Jacksonville, Fla., March 13th, 1864.

This is ITEM #60542 from the Accessible Archives, Inc. Database and Web site at http://www.accessible.com/. You or your organization must be a licensed subscriber to access the databases on its site. This letter is posted here with the kind permission of Mr. John Nagy, Accessible Archives, Inc.


Cotton Field

The history of America can be said to be the history of the struggles of black people in America. Out of the many symbolic items out there, none can be as symbolic as the southern cotton fields, which served as the social and economical prison for many black slaves for generations.


Memory is More Influential than Reality

Here is an over-used quote: “History is written by the winners.” An impossible mission for the historians would be to make a politically unbiased, empirically true, and objective record on a specific event. Given the right to write about a topic without restrictions imposed by the government, which is a privilege that’s not given in many nations, historians still experience many hardships in recording a historical incident by researching on possibly distorted data and opinions. Therefore, a book on the “reality” of a historical incident, such as the civil war, could possibly just become another voice in a great debate, whose conclusion may be impossible to reach.

This is why David Blight’s “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory” might be very interesting and practical. Although Blight may avoid the challenge of searching accurate data and interpreting biased opinions, he can spend time and effort on the reactions and influences of the people with different perspectives on the war. If that’s what Blight did in his book, this book would be very beneficial to the people interested in politics.  Rather than scrutinizing the actual events, politicians may be more interested in how the events influenced the development of our system. Eric Foner has already explained why the historical memory is important: historical memory great affect the politicians when they carry out major reforms, such as racial movements and feminine movements. The book review mentioned Wilson’s action as an example of the actions taken by politicians with different perspectives. Another example of shared experiences that is remembered in different ways would be the Iraq War, in which some people is remembering it as America’s invasion of a nation for the oil, while others remember it as proper actions needed for national security.

In a nation of democracy, many memories may be political driven, and some memories are shaped by the speeches delivered by politicians. A book on the historical memories would reflect the attitudes of our citizens than a book that recorded the reality that occurred.


Historians are going to read our tweets? Seriously?

With the advent of a new technology as powerful and influential as the internet, many aspects of our lives will certainly change. In fact, many aspects of our social lives and daily routines have already changed by the rise of social network like Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace. As always, the government will take action in accordance to our new social behaviors. Out of the many possible changes that they might take, archiving Tweets in the library of congress was definitely beyond many people’s imagination.

Okay, we have many questions with regard to this act. What is the benefit of filing Tweets? What is the downside? And is it cost-efficient to store a constant growing data base for indefinitely long? Well, as a result of this act, a massive amount of data and opinions from our common citizens will become available to historians and statisticians. Historians will then be able generate opinions and reach conclusions from a huge number of primary sources. This archive of daily comments of our common citizens is definitely powerful, geographically widespread, diverse, and enormous. Since twitters do record all sorts of events, our future historians will have no trouble in obtaining information on the public’s reaction to any events and any changes, whether they’re political, social, or economical.

Unfortunately, we might have huge issues if the historians use such system. This huge archive will share some of the same problems as the article on Wikileak had mentioned. The first problem would be: can the archive represent the general opinion? Realistically speaking, we probably do not have an optimistic answer for this question. Reading tweets that are focused on a certain issue is equivalent to extracting a specific population of people out of the whole. Without a doubt, not all Americans tweet, and not all twitters are prone to tweet about certain topics because many will choose to stay silent. Moreover, even for those who have tweeted, they would had probably wrote about 1 sentence of random thought on the topic; they would probably not bother to write an essay to completely express their thoughts on the issue. Due to all the reasons above, taking account of the tweets on the internet would be equivalent to recording the one random thought of the people who tweet and decide to tweet. Under such conditions, our archive of tweets would provide questionable contents and inaccurate reflection of our society. Many people’s voice would not be heard, and for those that are heard, their opinions have a high chance of being incomplete, inaccurate, and thus insignificant.

As such, allowing future historians to write their papers based on this archive might not be a great thing for the sake of recording and educating the next generation. This change in history-recording may not be going to the right direction. And let’s not forget about the costs. Is it beneficial to keep an enormous and constantly growing database of selective and incomplete opinions? Well, there could be other uses for such database. If America were a totalitarian state, this archive could become a handy tool to blacklist the citizens with anti-government views.