African Burial Ground

During my visit to African Burial Ground, I learned many additional information about African Americans that I don’t normally learn in a classroom. This visit allowed me to integrate the knowledge taught to me in class with the information given to me. 

One of the most important things I learned is that the Africans that were enslaved had rights in the beginning. This is one fact that textbooks usually neglect. I’ve always been taught that African Americans were forced into labor, but according to the African Burial Monument, they were enslaved but with rights to own land and other things. Matter of fact, in 1644 11 enslaved Africans won their partial freedom and the right to 100 acres of land. This land became known as the “Land of the Blacks.” It was not until later were slavery codes become more oppressive and all their rights were stripped from them.

In this exhibit, the bodies they found were in coffins covered with symbols. These objects symbolize fortunate things for their afterlife. A symbol that’s common is the Sankofa, which translates to “learn from the past to prepare for the future.” This is to learn that lessons of sacrifice, perseverance, respect and power of the community is needed to a better future.


Tenement Museum

When stepping foot into the Tenement Museum, one feels as if he was going back to his roots. He first realizes the condition of living that many new immigrants faced, and he learns the struggles that people fought through, just to live in America. During the 1800’s and early 1900’s many immigrants came to America to seek prosperity or refuge. These immigrants were usually Eastern European Jews, Italians, or Greeks. Each ethnicity tended to live near themselves, and they formed their own neighborhoods. In these neighborhoods people of common ethnicities would help support each other, give each other jobs, and give each other advice on the new country.

While walking into the museum I realized the horrible conditions that many of these new immigrants had faced while coming to America. They usually came with no money, and were forced to squeeze up to 10 people in rooms, which barely fit 2 people. These immigrants fought hard to stay in this land, something we take for granted. I specifically went to one room owned by a Jewish family, and one owned by an Italian family. We learnt how each family learned to survive. Usually the women had to take care of the house and make money, because the families were too poor to survive any other way. In addition, many children had to work as well, because the extra money was desperately needed.

While walking through the museum it is clear that these immigrants worked really hard. They helped start a new life for their families, and in turn sacrificed their lives to working extremely hard. It is highly recommended that everybody visit this museum. It helps show the roots of many of us, and will help put our lives in perspective. It will show us how lucky we truly are, and just how much we should appreciate the lives that we have.


Freedom From the Grasp of Foreign Oil?

Over the course of any history class, it becomes quite apparent that any event, act, or regulation has a very direct cause . One issue that seems to constantly be making headlines and undoubtedly has a very clear and direct effect on each of us is the perpetually  rising oil prices. At it’s core, the principals that govern the fluctuation of oil prices are the most basic fundamentals of business – supply and demand. However, as our dependency on foreign oil rises, it becomes easier for oil producing countries to step beyond these fundamentals and take a more active role in setting their own prices and indirectly having their say in the direction of our economy.

An offshore oil rig in arctic Alaska

Any disaster as severe as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 or the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon near the Gulf Coast this past summer is sure to stir up quite a scare when it comes to the dangers involved in the exploration and drilling of hard to reach oil fields, so it should come as no surprise that the government would subsequently put further exploration under a close watch. But the more you read into the benefits of increasing domestic oil production and therefore lessening our dependency on that of foreign countries the extent to which higher domestic output only becomes more and more apparent and it becomes irrefutably evident that it would be a major step in our ongoing quest toward economic recovery.

Over the past few weeks there have been many steps taken by the Federal Government to trying to ease the effects of these steadily rising prices on the pockets of the American people; and in fact, just yesterday “In his weekly radio and Internet address,” President Obama said that, “the administration would begin to hold annual auctions for oil and gas leases in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, a 23-million-acre tract on the North Slope of Alaska.” (John Broder, New York Times). It’s very clear that the president has real understanding of what’s actually going on in our country and is making an effort to show the people that he’s doing what he can to help us; and although I do not agree wit hall of his policies, I feel that I must commend him for his ability to speak to, and connect with, the average American citizen on very personal level.

This latest step in Washington’s stance on drilling within our nation’s border is sure to have a very direct and hopefully positive effect on each of us individually as well as on our economy as whole, and I encourage you all to take a few minutes to read the article that I’ve linked below – or at the very least watch the videos.

-C. Salama

Video: Obama on New Drilling Leases

\”Shrinking Oil Supplies Put Alaskan Pipeline at Risk\” – The Wall Street Journal

\”Shrinking Oil Supplies…\” Video

\”Obama Shifts to Speed Oil and Gas Drilling in U.S.\” – New York Times


Pilot: Requesting permission to land. Over. Control Tower:ZZZzzzzz…….

When you get on a plane you do something that most people wouldn’t choose to do; you put your life into someone else’s hands. By getting on an airplane you show confidence in the trained individuals that perform maintenance on the aircraft, pilot the aircraft and direct the aircraft; however recently that confidence has been shattered. The Federal Aviation Administration or FAA has recently been reporting more and more cases of air traffic controllers who have been found asleep on the job. Air Traffic Controllers, or ATC’s, have arguably the most important and tedious job in aviation, next to long distance pilots. They are the one who track planes routes, making sure no planes have mid air collisions and also directly control landing and takeoff patterns of planes. They are the ones responsible for keeping the hectic skies in sync; you could say they are the ones whose job it is to simply control the chaos. ATC’s jobs are extremely fatigue inducing and extremely demanding, having little time for sleep and working extended hours on already overly demanding schedules. Since late March, there have been 5 reported ATC’s who were found sleeping in the control tower while on the clock. This is extremely dangerous, because if no communication is coming out of the tower, the planes in the area are left all on their own, putting passengers and crew in a potentially life threatening situation. The government has now really begun to set regulations into place. They have cut the hours ATC’s work, added more staff to ensure there is always someone available in the tower, and set a no tolerance policy up where ATC’s sleeping on the job will be let go.


In August of 1981, FAC’s went on strike to protest the unfair working conditions they endured. President Ronald Reagan stated that the ATC’s had violated a regulation put in place that prohibited government unions from going on strike. He declared this a state of emergency because there was no one regulating the skies and bodly stated that if the workers “do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated”. The ATC’s didn’t budge and in respond Reagan unwilling to work with them fired “11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored his order to return to work”. Government clearly wasn’t afraid to take action, but instead of helping the workers it desperately needed, it cut back on them. This could be viewed as a regulation that if anything hurt the FAA more than helped it.



State Children’s Health Insurance Program


President Obama signed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program on February 4, 2009. This program was designed for children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to pay for personal health insurance. The program was only providing to U.S citizens or legal residents who under 21 and pregnant women. “This bill will enable to cover more than four million uninsured children by 2013, while continuing coverage for seven million youngsters. The bill will increase tobacco taxes to offset the increase in spending, estimated at more than $32 billion over four and a half years.”(Congressional Budget Office).


Back to 1993, President Bill Clinton did the exact same thing as President Obama; however, the plan was not successful.


School Lunch

President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act on December 13, 2010. This act is an effort to help American children stay healthy and have access to balanced nutritious school lunches. More students are eligible to enroll in school meals; this legislation addresses issues such as hunger and obesity levels that are currently affecting many kids in this nation. This important dilemma is being tackled to give children choices to have a healthier lifestyle. This bill allocates $4.5 billion towards the implementation of nutritional standards in public schools.

Back in 1994, the Schools Meals Initiative for Healthy Children was passed to order to teach children how to make healthy choices. All school meals must meet nutritional standards, but very few schools actually met those goals.





Obama Is The Fairest Of Them All?

On January 29, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the first act of his presidential legacy, called Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The act states that the 180-day timeframe to raise a discriminatory wage lawsuit is renewed with the issuance of each  new discriminatory paycheck. This act overturns the decision from the 2007  case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which states that the lawsuit commences on the date the employee forms a discriminatory wage decision. The act would protect women and other workers from pay discrimination.

During former President Bill Clinton’s administration, the policies he pursued loosened the government’s grip on private businesses and other sectors. For instance, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated broadcasting and telephone companies. He also abolished “welfare,” also known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). As a result, it became more difficult for needy individuals to receive assistance and payments. In comparison with President Clinton’s administration, President Obama’s act was a move towards government regulation. President Obama’s priority is the the rights and interests of American citizens. By signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as the first of his presidential career, he conveyed the message that he wished to expand government’s role and power in the economy and business.

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/30/us/politics/30ledbetter-web.html



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


Obama Signs Overhaul of Financial System

The New York Times article I chose is about passage of the legislation, The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a response to the 2008 financial crisis that tipped the nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The law subjects more financial companies to federal oversight and regulates many derivatives contracts while creating a consumer protection regulator and a panel to detect risks to the financial system.

The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s (commonly referred to as the S&L crisis) was the failure of 747 out of the 3,234 savings and loan associations in the United States. The concomitant slowdown in the finance industry and the real estate market may have been a contributing cause of the 1990–1991 economic recession.As a result of the savings and loan crisis, Congress passed the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) which dramatically changed the savings and loan industry and its federal regulation.Some commentators believe that a taxpayer-funded government bailout related to mortgages during the savings and loan crisis may have created a moral hazard and acted as encouragement to lenders to make similar higher risk loans during the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis.

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/business/22regulate.html



Nafta Logo

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, on New Years Day 1944 that thus created a trilateral trade bloc in North America. What the NAFTA aggreement was designed to do was lift trade and investment deterents between the three countries. The first thing it did towards this goal was phase out any tarrifs that existed between the countries. It also is supposed to eliminate non-tarrif trade restrictions.

One of the hinderences of the NAFTA aggreement was the environmental concerns. The American people thought that the US freely trading with these countries would promote harmful environmental activities. Present Clinton accordingly got Canada and Mexico to agree to and sign the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC). The Commission for Environmental Cooperation was established to monitor the environmental effects of NAFTA. NAFTA is still an issue of concern now, as can be seen by this exchange at the Presidental Debate:

    Tim Russert:: Senator Obama . . . Simple question: Will you, as president, say to Canada and Mexico, “This has not worked for us; we are out”? 

    Obama: “I will make sure that we renegotiate, in the same way that Senator Clinton talked about. And I think actually Senator Clinton’s answer on this one is right. I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced. And that is not what has been happening so far.” February 23, 2008


Exceptional America, or not?

The idea of American exceptionalism is that the US is different from every other country in the world because we are a “New nation”. We were formed in a unique way during a unique type of revolution, in a unique time with unique situations that came about. The way we have grown as a country since 1776 is now referred to as our state of exceptionalism. Towards the very end of the chapter there is a section entitled “Exceptional America” which describes how America has changed over the last 65 years. It describes the socioeconomic change, the rise in overall education and the rise of the expected life time of Americans. This gives the impression of the general rise in the standard of living among Americans, it doesn’t however give a reason why, other than indoor plumbing was mandated by law. I wonder what happened in American society that suddenly caused the majority of people to attend college, was it the job market getting tougher or was it something else, such as social norms changing. The book gives a startling statistic that in the year 2000 14+ million students attended college, 3 times the amount that did in 1960.

What I feel really needs to be elaborated on is the next section, which is only given 3 sentences. This talks about the “dark side” of what has become known as “exceptionalism”. It simply says that however advanced we have become we still have by FAR the most murders “caused by guns” of any advanced country in the world; with 11,789 in 1998. As a point of comparison the second highest was Germany with 373 and rounding out the top 3 was Canada with 151. Why is our number so ludicrously higher than the rest? I can understand that our population is exponentially larger and that when the percentage is taken of the total population of country/murders that occurred we would probably be lower than the rest; but that’s still nearly 12,000 people dead.


The Decline in Manufacturing Employment

Manufacturing Employment

Foner pointed out that in the 1990s Walmart emerged as the nation’s largest employer, whereas it had been General Motors in the 1970s. The shift which took place in 1990s, symbolizes the way the whole economy was shifting toward a service economy, a retail economy, and de-industrialization, as well as the continuing decline of manufacturing in the United States due to globalization, the shifting of jobs overseas in search of cheap labor, and the increasing importation of manufactured goods into United States. The problem with that was that the manufacturing jobs were very well paid and had strong union protections, pensions, and health benefits, and many of the jobs in this newer area were low-paying and offered very few benefits, so this became a problem for the American standard of living.


Globalization And Its effect On The Wealth of Nations

Foner commenced the chapter by describing the WTO meeting in 1999 and how it symbolized the growth of globalization and its mass acceptance since 135 countries were represented in the meeting. Foner mentions that Globalization is called “the concept of the 1990s” when the media proclaimed a coming of an age of borderless economy, where cultures would be submerged to create a “global civilization” and the interest of the state would be subordinate to the global interest. Such as labor shifting from one country to a cheaper country, these losing nations would allow such shift since it makes sense economically, and it would mean more profits for its citizens (capitalists/investors to be specific).

I think the effect of globalization is far reaching and deserves more attention. Millions of jobs were lost and gained by nations because of the access to global markets for businesses and reduced barriers to trading. Consumers also got the taste of products from all over the world at lower costs, most of the things we use and wear are made off shore. There are two sides to Globalization, one is the incontrovertible effect that globalization had on the lives of most denizens of this planet (whether economically or socially). And the other is the creation of  entities (multinational-corporations) that has accumulated huge power and influence on a global scale. These corporations, with billions in revenue and hundreds of thousands of employees, can practice political influence (special interest, campaign donation and the fact that it provides jobs to constituents) to tip the scale toward higher advantage for them, leaving small business with no chance to compete, and creating an oligarchical environment in which a few large corporations really run the show within a given industry, leading to higher income inequality (gap) where rich get really rich and the poor remains roughly the same, if not worse. The top 1 percent of the global population owns 40% of the wealth according to a study conducted in 2000. The image below renders the wealth distribution in the US.


Assignment due May 9

1) Write at least two comments in response to this post discussing how Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan have been remembered after their presidencies.   If possible, spread out your comments by at least a few hours so you can enter at different points in the conversation.  I encourage you to include links to other web pages that support your points (e.g., news articles that review the legacies of one of these presidents).  Be specific about the source(s) you are using for evidence.

Birmingham, We shall Overcome

According to Foner, the high point in protest was in the spring of 1963. There were many demonstrations that took place in cities and towns in the south which put emphasis on the black discontent over inequality in education, employment, and housing. In one week there were 15,000 arrests in 186 cities. Birmingham was marked as one of the most dangerous cities. There were over fifty bombings of black homes and institutions since WWII. Martin Luther King was among one of the many leaders invited to come to Birmingham during these protests. He was serving a 9 day prison term in April 1963 for violating a ban on demonstrations when he developed the “Letter from Birmingham Jail”.  In this letter he related the abuses faced by black southerners from police brutality to the daily humiliation of having to explain to their children why they could not enter amusement parks or public swimming pools.

One of the significant things King has done was make a bold decision to send black schoolchildren into the streets of Birmingham. The images of what was going on in Birmingham during this time was a triumph for the civil rights movement. The events in Birmingham cause white Americans to decide whether they had more in common with fellow citizens demanding basic rights or with violent segregationists. The events in Birmingham are related to the Civil Rights movement which began in the 1950s. Martin Luther King began fighting in silent protest over the rights of African Americans during this time. The fight to gain advancement at this time was  working through massive resistance and protest.


Assignment due 4/13

Leave at least 2 comments in response to this post discussing the portrayal of the African-American civil rights movement by Foner in “The Age of Affluence” chapter.  Were things getting better or worse for African Americans between 1945 and 1960?  Why or why not?  Who fought to improve equality and who opposed them?  Read the comments that came before you and contribute something new to the conversation.



Now where in the history of America has consumerism became widespread as in the 1950s. Not only in its breadth but also in depth as the very notion of freedom(something that symbolizes America) became intertwined with it. The 50’s was an era called the Golden Age of Capitalism, a period of unprecedented economic growth that benefited both the capitalists and workers, as result of higher wages. Economic prosperity led to a growing middle class, which demanded appliances and products that would enable them enjoy more leisure time and spend less in the kitchen or cleaning up the house. Inventions such as the dishwasher, washing machine and vacuum cleaners became household items. Even a reporter for House Beautiful Magazine asserted that the most potent weapon in the Cold War was “the freedom offered by washing machines and dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, automobiles, and refrigerators.” The image above is an advertisement from the 1950’s and showed how unscrupulous the advertising was since Coke was advertised to kids, and also one of the selling points in the poster says “Boosts Personality!”


Did we run out of kitchens?

This seems to be an old video of the historic “Kitchen Debates” between Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev. The debates signaled a slight change in sentiment towards the Soviet Union as well as the Soviet’s politics both domestically and internationally. A few people, including President Eisenhower voiced their opinions about the massive build up of missiles and defenses. Furthermore, after the Soviets successfully tested their hydrogen bomb people became nervous. However in 1958 the two nations stopped testing nuclear weapons as per an agreement. They began to seek “peaceful coexistence.”