Essays

The Economics of Poverty: Observational Paper
The great ripple that was felt following the financial crisis that began in 2007 and lasted through 2009 left lasting changes to the economic landscape of the United States. Each recession in the U.S. has resulted in increases to the percentage of unemployed individuals. Some demographics are less likely experience returns to pre-recession employment rates, and may fall in to permanent unemployment leading to poverty. Looking at the events of the recession, government policy, and economics on a national scale will provide insight in to the trends correlated with inequality in mobility for the constituency of individuals who are permanently unemployed within the United States.
The American poor and middle class felt the hit of the crisis more acutely than did the wealthy. Income growth among wealthy people has remained fairly consistent, even during times of economic downturn, while impacts on people in low and middle financial classes have been immense. According to a report released by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality in 2015, data they collected from the year 2014 shows that in New York one percent of the population controls 30.8 percent of the wealth, and in Wyoming 49.7 percent of wealth is controlled by the richest one percent.
The United States saw a loss of 8.7 million jobs during the recession, with poverty hitting a high of 15.1 percent in 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). During the height of the recession unemployment hit a high of 10 percent in 2009 (Federal Reserve St. Louis, 2014). Unemployment rates at the start of 2015 were 5.6 percent, having returned to pre-recession levels. But individuals within specific demographics are much worse off now than before the crisis, and poverty levels have risen.
When recessions and depressions hit the auto, construction and manufacturing sectors are among those most effected as a trend (Sablik, T., 2013). States where economy relied largely on construction, coal mining and financials saw some of the biggest drops in employment post recession. Industry growth shifts are more extreme during recessions and impacted different industries than those experiencing shifts in healthy markets. Housing development halted during the recession, making construction and development related industries some of the more highly impacted sectors. Jobs in these sectors became scarce. And high cost housing being more lucrative made its development more likely to continue than low-income housing development. This contributed to low-income housing shortages following the crisis. Housing assistance programs currently in existence are only available to a small percentage of people at the very bottom of the economic ladder.
“In 2009 and 2010, the U.S. economy suffered the most job loss in the postwar era. Job seekers of all ages had trouble finding work, millions got discouraged and quit looking for work, and unemployment spells lasted longer than at any time on record. The prime-age employment ratio, the best measure of the health of the labor force, dripped to the lowest ever level on record among men and had the largest drop ever among women. Five years later, employment still lags far behind its pre-recession level for both men and women. At the current rate of recovery, men’s employment has almost no chance of returning to pre-recession levels by February 2017; women’s employment has a 50/50 chance of returning to pre-recession levels by then” (Stanford, 2015).
The United States Census Bureau calculates poverty thresholds by size of family, listing the following thresholds in 2014: $18,850 for a family of three people, $19,073 for a family of three with a child under the age of 18, and $19,073 for a family of three with two children under the age of 18 years old (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). Data collected for the Current Population Survey reported in 2015 by the Annual Social and Economic Supplemental showed a poverty rate of 14.8 percent with 46.7 million people living under the poverty line in 2014. Living below 125 percent of the poverty line puts an individual in the category of individuals who are suffering extreme poverty. During 2006, before the crisis began 16.8 percent of the U.S. population lived below 125 percent of the poverty line. The percentage of people who are living below 125 percent of the poverty line hit 19.8 percent in 2010 and 2011, years categorized as a time of economic recovery. The United States Census Bureau reports that 19.4 percent of the United States population was living below 125 percent of the poverty level in 2014  (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). African Americans and Native Americans were the racial groups most significantly impacted by the recession. During 2014, 29.2 percent of Native Americans in the U.S. were living in poverty, the highest rate among any racial group in the country, 26.2 percent of African Americans were in poverty, 23.6 percent of Hispanics lived in poverty and 10.1 percent of Whites, Non-Hispanics lived in poverty (DeNavas-Walt, & Proctor, 2014). Poverty is correlated with increases in crime, decreased graduation rates, decreased access to education, decreased happiness, increased mortality, increased teen pregnancy and decreased health. The accumulation of adversity makes for a systemic plethora of generational, cyclical, self-feeding problems that are overwhelmingly hard to overcome.
Before the sub-prime mortgage crisis investment banks were bundling together mortgages along with credit-card debt, and bonds for trade and sale to public banks. Theoretically the diversity in the packaged model would decrease risk to investors, but in practice this allowed bankers to offload risky assets by hiding them within the bundle and selling them to unwitting investors. Federal government programs that aimed to aid mid to low income people in attaining housing incentivized lending to risky borrowers who were less likely to repay their debts. Bankers responded to the incentives, selling asset-backed securities in the form of mortgage-backed securities. Backing securities with solid assets meant that should the debtor fail to pay banks what they owed, that the bank would have the asset to seize and sell as a means of recovering any loss incurred. Investment bankers who trade in mortgage-backed security bonds on a to-be announced basis, do so based on an agreements where the exact assets to be exchanged are unknown, sometimes before mortgages to be included have even been signed. Contracts usually clarified a range of values that the assets to be exchanges must fall within, along with an agreement defining the issuer, maturity, coupon, price, par amount, and settlement date. The advantage to the investing lender is the ability to come to a standing agreement not subject to change, even if the market value of the securities increases. Government insurance for these investments gives the illusion of a safety net. The benefit to Banks is the ability to liquidate the lowest value assets more easily without disclosure in order to offload risk. Hiding the assets in a bundle gives the seller the opportunity to offload the securities that would be least desirable and least valuable while still falling within the agreed upon price range. The benefit of hiding assets is increased liquidity, but the drawback is hidden risk. The high liquidity of mortgage-backed securities that are traded on a to-be announced basis results in an increase in price and decrease in interest rate relative to the price they would retrieve if sold transparently in an open market. More than 90 percent of mortgage-backed security trades are made on a to-be announced basis (Vickery, J., & Wright, J. 2013). Mortgage loan agreements made with high-risk borrowers, who on average held more debt saw a huge increase in frequency in the years directly prior to the mortgage crisis. Misguided government policy contributed to the commonality of this practice.
Investments were part asset, part illusion of value. When fear struck the market, and people demanded to be paid, the cash to do wasn’t there. The house of cards built on false trust in assets that did not hold value came tumbling down. High-risk purchasers of mortgages who were sold them by bankers who were encouraged by policy that aimed to help low income people gain access to housing began failing in droves to afford payments on their mortgages. The first signs of the decreased health of the economy showed up in the later part of 2007 when housing prices began to fall as investor’s expectations began to align with reality in what had been a steadily growing market. Some investors who saw what was coming decided to short the real estate market, essentially betting on its failure.
Full meltdown began to take place beginning with Bear Sterns, followed by Lehman Brothers, and next came AIG. The FED rescued AIG Insurance Company, but chose to allow Lehman brothers to fail. Merrill Lynch was failing, and was purchased by Bank of America. Washington Mutual was purchased by JP Morgan. Wachovia was purchased by Citigroup, then by Wells Fargo. Banks ceased lending to the public and each other, which caused a freeze of capital and credit. Lending between banks had frozen and the FED was involved in efforts to encourage lending behavior to increase. Immediately following the crisis the Federal Reserve Bank reduced the federal funds rate, the interest rate mandated by the FED for bank to bank lending. The Federal Reserve chose to inject $200 billion dollars of capital into the economy, as a means of Quantitative Easing thus reducing the interest rate. The general target interest rate in a healthy economy is approximately 2% interest. The FED decreased the federal funds rate in 2007, then again in 2008. The federal funds rate is the rate of interest that the FED charges to banks that borrow from it. When the FED changes the rate it charges to borrowers it does so as a way to either encourage or discourage borrowing behavior. In a healthy economy the federal funds rate and the printing of money are the tools the FED uses to manipulate inflation and therefore control frequency of borrowing. When the FED decreased the interest they were charging the banks to borrow they were essentially saying “Borrow from us, it’s okay. We won’t penalize you. We know you’re in trouble right now. Just borrow what you need to avoid collapse and we will figure the rest out later.”
The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was proposed under the Bush Administration and suggested a purchase of troubled assets like to provide economic relief. The Act was denied on September 30th, 2008, but after the DOW dropped 778 points, or $1.3 trillion dollars the House reconsidered and passed the bill the following week (Guynn, Polk, & Wardwell LLP, 2010). Though the bill is called the Troubled Asset Relief Program, it is tempting to call it the Toxic Asset Relief Program because that is what it equates to. Under this program tax-payer money is used to purchase failing financial institutions and companies, it is a program to purchase assets that should not be purchased, that put our economy and wellbeing at risk, that manifested a failure to provide value due to their high-risk, low-capital models which were implemented with the goal of high-profit return and personal gain.
Obama American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 was a government stimulus program where the government raised consumption and spending, but there is no consensus on effectiveness. The Obama administration has taken steps to reform the banking and financial industry in recent years. The FOMC, Federal Open Market Committee has participated in actions taken to prop up the economy and revise the system of regulation in place. Despite these efforts profit motive is sure to incentivize risky market behavior unless smart regulation is imposed. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act was signed into law in 2008. Governmental bodies associated with regulation have increased transparency efforts. During 2009 proposals were made to change capital, liquidity and reserve requirements ratios. The authority of the Federal Reserve has been expanded since the financial crisis.
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law by Obama in July 2010 with the stated goal of ensuring that tax payers will not be held accountable for bailing out banks should there be another financial crisis, and increasing consumer education and protections. Under this Act several new committees were set up to monitor, research and regulate the behavior and market practices of the largest financial institutions in the United States. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency at the Treasury Department has been given charge of composing stress test scenarios that financial institutions must run and report back on. Next year all FDIC insured financial institutions with assets exceeding $10 billion are required to submit results of their stress tests to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. This allows the FOMC, Federal Open Market Committee and other organizations concerned with the health and regulation of the market to analyze and make recommendations based off of the information received. Outlines have been laid out for the orderly liquidation of financial institutions, and would act as an alternative to a taxpayer bailout like that seen in the recent financial crisis.
Critics of the Dodd-Frank Act cite the policy’s failure to address underlying causes of economic instability as grounds for its inadequacy. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act expands government and federal control over banks and financial “non-bank” institutions, including insurance agencies with the exception of health insurance agencies. There are several new institutions set up under the act including research departments, but some departments and institutions are simply shuffled around, or merely underwent minor structural changes. The act doesn’t address root causes, nor does it end too big to fail banks. During the crisis the merging of banks increased the size of major banks, possibly making them more of a risk. The low interest rates that existed in the years prior to the financial crisis may have contributed to risky investment, and the low interest rates that the Federal Reserve has been unable to raise without disrupting the economy might be continuing to encourage risky investment. The issue of the “Too Big to Fail” banks has worsened because of the many mergers that took place during the financial crisis. Janet Yellen, the current Chair of the Federal Reserve and a member of the Federal Open Market Committee was recently stated that the biggest banks are now 30 percent bigger in the wake of the crisis. The data released by the Federal Reserve on March 31, 2015 shows 1,784 banks that have consolidated assets of more that $300 million. As of this date JP Morgan Chase Bank has the largest asset holdings of any bank in the U.S. with a cumulative $2,096,114 million in assets and a domestic $1,528,986 million in assets (Federal Reserve, 2015). Data they released on March 31, 2007, assessing the same measures for the year prior to that of the crash shows 1,672 banks with consolidated assets of $300 million or more. JP Morgan ranked number one with cumulative assets of $1,224,104 million and $668,260 million domestic (Federal Reserve, 2007). Bank of America has almost doubled in size since the financial crisis.
Individuals within the financial industry had the expectation that they would receive government assistance in the case of breakdown, and having that belief affirmed will probably lead to the continuation of risky decisions in the future. Some argue that having the bailout as a president sets up a moral hazard, teaching the market and financial institutions that future mistakes will be of little consequence. Their failures will fall on the American government to solve and that safety net deters the incentive to change future behavior, in fact it encourages a repeat of high-risk, high-return model investing. 
Government stimulus programs cushioned unemployment rates by spending on projects that would require workers, therefore creating jobs. While the recovering economy has seen increased employment, many jobs available today pay lower wages than those available before the recession. Adequate measures have not been taken to assure financial stability for the future. The economic structure can currently be described as fragile at best.  Treating the symptoms of economic inequality, rather than the causes has made economic instability more acute in the wake of the crisis. Where a financial incentive trumps all else, behavior is bound to concede to money’s request.

References
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Economic Instability & the Impact of the United States Financial Crisis on Impoverished Individuals
Ineffective regulation and policy contribute to financial instability creating the conditions for recessions to occur. During recessions unemployment rises most significantly among individuals living in poverty and those who are in lower income brackets, and never fully returns to pre-recession levels. Each recession or depression slightly increases the percentage of impoverished individuals who remain permanently unemployed. Most politicians agree that the government has a role to play in regulating financial markets, though there is a disagreement about what actions should be taken.
Government policy encouraged the risky lending to mortgage applicants holding debt was common practice in the years directly prior to the mortgage crisis. Mortgage-Backed Securities are bonds backed by mortgages, meaning that they have a solid asset attached to them with intrinsic value that remains and can be liquidated in cases where it is necessary. When the market crashed many people lost their homes, especially the poor who are likely to have housing as a primary asset. Much of this financial activity was taking place in the shadow banking system and went unregulated.
When banking collapses began to take place banks ceased lending the FED was involved in efforts to encourage lending to recommence. The FED inject $200 billion dollars of capital into the economy decreased the value of our currency. Taxpayer money was used to bailout failing financial institutions and companies, and to purchase troubled assets following the crisis, and the U.S. government opted for what is known as a stimulus package or quantitative easing in an attempt to ease economic impacts on citizens.
Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act were implemented following the crisis. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was signed into law by Obama in July 2010 aims to ensure that tax payers will not be held accountable for bailing out banks should there be another financial crisis, and increasing consumer education and protections. The Act expands federal control and oversight of banks and financial “non-bank” institutions, including insurance agencies, with the exception of health insurance agencies. New requirements for the capital reserves and liquidity have been imposed on banks, making use of risk to capital ratios advised by the Volker rule theory. Financial institutions that hold enough assets to pose a systemic risk to our economy are now required to report plans yearly outlining including procedures for orderly liquidation and stress test results.
There are several new institutions set up under the act including research departments, but some departments and institutions are simply shuffled around, or merely underwent minor structural changes. Politicians and economists argue that the act doesn’t address root causes, nor does it end too big to fail banks. Contrary to the stated goal of the policy, the Act expanded Federal deposit insurance to cover more financial institutions.
The low interest rates that existed in the years prior to the financial crisis contributed to risky investment. Low interest rates resulted from quantitative easing and the Federal Reserve has been unable to raise them for fear of disrupting the slow economic recovery. These low interest rates recently may be causing risky borrowing and investment, setting us up for another crisis in the future. The issue of the “Too Big to Fail” banks has worsened because of the many mergers that took place during the financial crisis. Janet Yellen, the current Chair of the Federal Reserve and a member of the Federal Open Market Committee was recently stated that the biggest banks are now 30 percent bigger in the wake of the crisis. Data released by the Federal Reserve on March 31, 2015 shows 1,784 banks that have consolidated assets of more that $300 million (Federal Reserve, 2015).
More changes need to be made, but there are split views on how this should be done. Libertarians advocate for the least possible government involvement, saying that growing government involvement will slow market growth and stifle entrepreneurship. Free market economic theory advocates the idea that the market will care for itself without intervention. There is a school of thought that says failed institutions failed for a reason, and bailing them out doesn’t allow successful institutions to take their place and thrive. Bailouts add a safety net that will probably lead to risky decisions in the future.
Most politicians agree that a market model devoid of any manipulation or regulation is ineffectual. Simplifying the tax code is overwhelmingly seen as one of the most effective ways to decrease the ability for individuals and corporations to take advantage of tax loopholes in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Simplifying the tax code might substantially help increase the amount of taxes collected from the wealth and corporations because they have the advantage of hiring experts to help them take advantage of loopholes.
During the recession unemployment reached a high of 10% in October of 2009, the highest rate seen since unemployment hit 10.8% during the recession of 1982. Prior to 1982 the lowest unemployment rate experienced in the U.S. was during the Great Depression when unemployment rose to approximately 23 percent between 1929 and 1932 (Margot, A., R. page 43). When recessions and depressions hit the auto, construction and manufacturing sectors are among those most effected as a trend (Sablik, T., 2013). Industry Specific impacts are more extreme during recessions and impacted different industries than those experiencing shifts in healthy markets. Housing development halted during the recession, making construction and development related industries some of the more highly impacted sectors. Jobs in these sectors became scarce. And high cost housing being more lucrative made its development more likely to continue than low-income housing development. This contributed to low-income housing shortages following the crisis. Housing assistance programs currently in existence are only available to a small percentage of people at the very bottom of the economic ladder. States where economy relied largely on construction, coal mining and financials saw some of the biggest drops in employment post recession. Last job losses occurred in states with major oil industry, but recently the bottom has begun to fall out of the oil market making for economic uncertainty in that sector as well. Because the energy sector is categorized as one of the most volatile this may not be cause for alarm, as long term growth and recovery is likely to be seen here. This is not so for many low wage jobs where returned employment numbers did not recover. Desperation caused more highly educated individuals to seek lower wage jobs during the recovery making it harder for people in poverty to regain employment.
Individuals living below 125 percent of the poverty line hit 19.8 percent during our “economic recovery”. The level decreased to 19.25 percent in 2013, but has risen again to 19.4 percent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). Democrats advocate for increases to the minimum wage and actions are taking place at the State and Federal level to change minimum wage and overtime laws. Republicans and Libertarians tend to agree that increased minimum wages will hurt the poor more than it will help them. They argue that business owners will ultimately fire employees to compensate for the increase in wages, so that they can maintain a healthy profit margin. This may be particularly true for smaller business owners. The result they expect would be less people employed at a higher wage. Because individuals in lower income brackets, including those in poverty tend to have lower levels of education they might be impacted to the largest extent by significant changes to the minimum wage. Studies that follow economies where minimum wages have changed have found varied and conflicting results as to the impact of changes to the minimum wage. Also of importance is assessment of current government programs that aim to address low-income housing needs and those that seek to broaden opportunities for education to people of low-income.
In order to implement effective policy there needs to be action that plays to a convergence of the interests of multiple parties in our economic system. States are in control of implementing the policy tools made available to them by the federal government. Some states chose not to take advantage of these recourses, Wyoming being among the states that don’t prioritize implementation of inequality and poverty reducing policies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. States largely control minimum wage, educational opportunity priority and temporary assistance programs for needy families. New Jersey is at the top of the list of states that makes use of available government recourses. The Stanford report referred to these government programs as safety nets. (Stanford, 2015) During the Mortgage crisis and recession that followed many politicians spoke of these safety nets as a common catch phrase. They hold many people right above the poverty line. Today, years after the financial crisis when the FED looked to data for information to guide the timing for necessary but risky inflation they saw an unexpectedly high continuance of individuals who were so close to poverty that they remained dependent on government assistance to avoid being categorized as impoverished.
Building research and evaluations into public policies proves to be incredibly helpful in determining their effectiveness. Looking at variance in state success rates in unemployment and poverty reduction in relation to their implementation of policy offers data that shows their comparative successes. States are allowed exemption from Obama Care and the Welfare Program provided they offer alternatives, and track and report the success of these alternative programs. These states that do not choose implementation of the federal programs available bring data to the table that acts as a control group for Federal Government to compare with their programs. (Stanford, 2015). The unemployment rate that is most frequently cited does not take into account people who have given up looking for work, active military service members, inmates, students, retirees, stay-at-home parents, and those living in care facilities. This makes for an arguably contentious method of measurement of unemployment.
The Earned Income Tax Credit, EITC has garnered bipartisan support. This policy incentivizes work behavior while providing impoverished people with additional financial support in the form of a tax return for people who work, but remain under the poverty level. Food Stamps, housing subsidies and other government aid programs are criticized by some because the frequently fail to incentivize self-sufficiency and upward mobilizing behavior and discourage working by confiscating aid to individuals earning slightly more than they receive in aid. A problem some people have is the possibility of fraudulent claims for the EITC and what can be done in order to improve accuracy for evaluating integrity of the program. Simply giving people the amount of aid necessary for survival doesn’t fix the root problems. This is another band-aide without addressing any underlying issue. Helping people become self-sufficient should be the objective.
Economic instability is more acute in the wake of the crisis and adequate measures have not been taken to assure financial stability for the future.
Maintenance of a healthy economy is vital to employment rates, and instability puts the wellbeing of people living in poverty at risk more than other demographic. Effective policy, regulation and assistance programs are of the utmost importance to improving the living conditions and employment rates of people living in poverty. Further regulation is needed to assure protection for the health of our economy, and to assist individuals most in need.

References
Acemoglu, D., & Guerrieri, V. (2008). Capital Deepening and Nonbalanced Economic Growth. Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 116 no. 3.  (Page 467-498) University Of Chicago. Retrieved from http://economics.mit.edu/files/5673

Ashcraft, A., Malz, A., & Pozsar, Z. (2012). The Federal Reserve’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility. Economic Policy Review, (19320426),18(3), 29-66. Retrieved from http://0-web.a.ebscohost.com.library.cabrillo.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=01910e29-6616-4a4f-a9f5-89bcf2781bd6%40sessionmgr4004&vid=8&hid=4114

Bordo, M. (2013). Review of Ben S. Bernanke: The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis. Princeton University Press. Hoover Institution Economics Working Papers. Retrieved from http://www.hoover.org/sites/default/files/13109_-_bordo_-_review_of_ben_s_bernanke_-_the_federal_reserve_and_the_financial_crisis_0.pdf

Clemmitt, M. (2010, July 30). Financial industry overhaul. CQ Researcher20, 629-652. Retrieved from http://0-library.cqpress.com.library.cabrillo.edu/


Cooper, D., (2015). Without Government Safety Net Programs, Millions More Would Be in Poverty. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved From http://www.epi.org/publication/without-government-safety-net-programs-millions-more-would-be-in-poverty/

Cooper, D., (2015). In Virtually Every State, the Poverty Rate is Still Higher than Before the Recession. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved From http://www.epi.org/blog/in-virtually-every-state-the-poverty-rate-is-still-higher-than-before-the-recession/

David, D. A. (2011). A Simple Approach to Preventing the Next Housing Crisis: Why We Need One, What One Would Look Like, and Why Dodd-Frank isn’t it. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 38(3), 721-732. Retrieved from http://0-web.a.ebscohost.com.library.cabrillo.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=13&sid=01910e29-6616-4a4f-a9f5-89bcf2781bd6%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4114&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWNvb2tpZSxpcCx1cmwmc2l0ZT1laG9zdC1saXZlJnNjb3BlPXNpdGU%3d#AN=61049782&db=a9h

Davis, P., Guynn, D. R., and Wardwell LLP (2010). The Financial Panic of 2008 and Financial Regulatory Reform. Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation. Retrieved from http://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2010/11/20/the-financial-panic-of-2008-and-financial-regulatory-reform/

DeNavas-Walt , C., Proctor, B. D. (2014). Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014, Current Population Reports. U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p60-252.pdf

Federal Reserve St. Louis (2014). What’s the Normal Unemployment Rate? Federal Reserve Blog. FRED Economic Research Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis., Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved from https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2014/10/whats-the-normal-unemployment-rate/

Glazer, S. (2014, April 18). Wealth and inequality. CQ Researcher24, 337-360. Retrieved from http://0-library.cqpress.com.library.cabrillo.edu/cqresearcher/getpdf.php?id=cqresrre2014041800

Grusky, D. B., Mattingly, M. J., Varner, C., Hout, M., Cumberworth, E., Fisher, J., Thompson, J., Smeeding, T., Lichter, D. T., Parisi, D., Taquino, M. C., Jusko, K. L., Reardon, S. F., Burgard, S. A., King, M. M., Chetty, R., Hendren, N., Kline, P., & Saez, E. (2015). State of States: The Poverty and Inequality Report 2015. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. Pathways Magazine on Poverty, Inequality and Social Policy. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/group/scspi/sotu/SOTU_2015.pdf

Grusky D. B., Varner, C., Mattingly, M., Poulin, M., Chou, A., Cumberworth, E., Hout, M., Danziger, S., Wimer, C., Jusko, K., Weisshaar, K., Thompson, J., Smeeding, T., Wolff, N. E., Burgard, S., King, M., Reardon, S. (2014). State of the Union: Poverty and Inequality Report 2014. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality Report. Retrieved From https://web.stanford.edu/group/scspi/sotu/SOTU_2014_CPI.pdf

Guynn, D. R., Polk, D., & Wardwell LLP. (2010). A Survey of Current Regulatory Trends. The International Bar Association’s Task Force on the Financial Crisis. Retrieved from http://www.davispolk.com/files/uploads/FIG//Financial_Crisis_Report_US.pdf

Humes, R. K., Jones, A. N., & Ramirez, R. R. (2011). Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin 2010: 2010 Census Briefs. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from

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Lemons, J. (2015). Fighting urban poverty. CQ Researcher25, 601-624. Retrieved from http://0-library.cqpress.com.library.cabrillo.edu/cqresearcher/getpdf.php?id=cqresrre2015071700

Margo, A. R., (1993). Employment and Unemployment in the 1930s. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 7 No. 2 Pg 41-59. Retrieved from https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/meltzer/maremp93.pdf



Norris, T., Vines, L. P., & Hoeffel, M. E., (2012). The Native Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010, 2010 Census Briefs. U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-10.pdf

Peralta, K., (2014). Native Americans Left Behind in the Economic Recovery. US News. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/11/27/native-americans-left-behind-in-the-economic-recovery



Sablik, T., (2013). Recession of 1981-82. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Federal Reserve History. Retrieved from http://www.federalreservehistory.org/Events/DetailView/44

Strauss, K. (2009). Accumulation and Dispossession: Lifting the Veil on the Subprime Mortgage Crisis. Antipode41(1), 10-14. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8330.2008.00652.x. Retrieved from http://0-web.b.ebscohost.com.library.cabrillo.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7f74a28e-f746-4a32-b5ad-6ca9384a974b%40sessionmgr111&vid=6&hid=125


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015). Civilian Unemployment Rate. FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Retrieved from https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/UNRATE

U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032010/rdcall/1_000.htm

U.S. Census Bureau. (2011). Profile America Facts For Features. U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb11-ff22.html
U.S. Census Bureau. (2014). Detailed Race: Universe: Total Population, 2014 American Community Survey 1- Year Estimates. The United States Census Bureau & The United States Department of Commerce. Retrieved from

U.S. Census Bureau. (2015). Current Population Survey (CPS), 2015 Annual Social and Economic Supplemental (ASEC). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/index.html

U.S. Census Bureau. (2015). Poverty: 2014 Highlights. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/index.html

U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). Poverty: Historical Poverty Tables – People. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/historical/people.html

U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). Poverty. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/methods/definitions.html

U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). Poverty: Definitions. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/methods/definitions.html

Vickery, J., & Wright, J. (2013). TBA Trading and Liquidity in the Agency MBS Market. Economic Policy Review, (19320426), 19(1), 1-18. Retrieved from http://0-web.b.ebscohost.com.library.cabrillo.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=0582344f-011d-4764-9fd3-162bc8278c31%40sessionmgr198&vid=5&hid=115

Quigley, J. M., Raphael, S., Smolensky, E., Mansur, E., & Rosenthal, A. L. (2001). Homelessness in California. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_1001JQR.pdf

Poverty in the Wake of Financial Crisis
The lasting poverty rate increases due to the 2007-2010 recession have become part of the ongoing public debate. Federally funded Welfare programs held many people slightly above the poverty line who would have fallen into poverty during the crisis without government assistance. The actions taken by the Federal Reserve immediately preceding the crisis softened what could have been total economic depression. Economic stability protects the wellbeing of people living in poverty who are most affected in times of crisis, and The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by President Obama following the crisis has made pushes to improve economic stability. Congresswoman Barbara Lee has advocated for policy and Welfare programs targeted toward improving conditions for impoverished individuals. Effective policy, regulation, education and assistance programs are of the utmost importance to improving the living conditions and employment rates of people living in poverty. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality is making advances in research and advocates better research and evaluation of available data as a means of better understanding the effectiveness of policy and poverties impact on society.  Efforts to increase macroeconomic stability combined with targeted public assistance and increased understanding are a very good start to addressing the problem of poverty.
To accurately evaluate the effectiveness of Federal policy as it stands, it is helpful to analyze the implementation and return on investments produced by programs that are offered currently. When offered Federal funding for aid programs, some states decline the opportunity. Comparing the states in America that implement the Aid available to them to those that decline it sheds light on the returns and benefits of the available programs. Poverty levels stagnate and sometimes increase especially after recessions. When evaluating the implementation of welfare programs, and data composed by state more insight into the impact of policy can be gained. Further research could add additional benefit. Texas, a state that takes advantage of aid has a relatively high poverty level, whereas California has a relatively low level of poverty. To take an even closer look at metadata sets could further increase understanding of the impacts that that policies have (Grusky, 2015).
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform and Consumer Protection Act that was passed in response to the financial crisis of 2007-2010 cushioned long-term unemployment rate increases that lead to rises in poverty rates in America. The objectives of this act are to offer protection to American consumers, increase transparency, decrease systemic financial risk and increase government oversight. The Dodd- Frank Act is likely to decrease the impact of future recessions on individuals in poverty. Under Dodd-Frank banks are subject to public disclosure of their assessed liquidity, derivative inflow and outflow, and a series of other metrics. This increases transparency and allows for government action and assessment of risk. Requirements have been set into place with the objective of increasing the ability to dissolve banks in an orderly manner in times of crisis. Paul Krugman wrote in 2014 about two important changes made via the Dodd-Frank Act, the creation of the Consumer Protection Bureau and the implementation of operations for orderly liquidation of Financial Institutions. Under Dodd-Frank if a bank fails the government now has the ability to seize banks at the time of a bailout, rather than simply plying them with public funds. This provides a solution to the fear that bank failures will spread and become systemically contagious, and addresses the moral hazard that rewarding those banks would create. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created under the Dodd-Frank Act and creates new regulation that Mortgage Lenders must comply with, including, but not limited to disclosure of clear and easy to understand mortgage agreements to borrowers. Borrowers are also given access to financial counseling prior to the signing of new mortgages and protections surrounding agreements that include misleading agreements where interest rates are subject to change are given to individuals whose income falls below a certain level.
The expansion of regulation of derivatives, and new requirements for bank capital to risk-weighted assets under Dodd-Frank are changes advised by economists.  The primary responsibilities of the Federal Reserve are to maximize employment and to prevent interest rates from deviating largely from the target of their ideal 2 percent. The Federal Reserve is responsible for monetary policy and implementation of manipulations via the use of Open Market Operations (OMO), reserve requirements, and discount rates. Janet Yellen is the     current Chair of the Board of Governors and a member of the. The FOMC is comprised of the seven members of the Board of Governors, the Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and four of the eleven Federal Reserve Banks in the U.S. who serve one-year terms on a rotational basis. The Federal Open Market Committee, FOMC is associated with the FED and is responsible for Open Market Operations, OMO, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve is responsible for manipulation of discount rates and reserve requirements. Changes in the federal funds rate can impact the rate of output of goods, price level, the money supply level, amount of available credit, and the employment rate (Federal Reserve, 2015).
         There is no doubt that overall GDP increases and economic stability have proven vital to improving the lives of impoverished individuals. While overall economic growth is an important aspect of reduction of poverty, so to are measures taken to target this issue directly using Welfare Programs and Congresswoman Barbara Lee of the 13th District of California has been involved in reforms to bills aimed to address poverty. Amendments in The Pathways Out of Poverty Act of 2015 Sponsored by Barbara Lee makes amendments to previous bills that increase access to Welfare Programs and make them more widely available. Her emphasis on educational support for individuals in poverty should prove exceptional beneficial because programs aiming to increase access to education have shown high returns on investment when compared to other types of programs (Congressional Research Service, 2015). The Dodd-Frank Act has also made several important changes to move toward simplification of the tax code. Further simplification of the tax code is overwhelmingly seen as one of the most effective ways to decrease the ability for individuals and corporations to take advantage of tax loopholes in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Further tax code reform might substantially help increase the amount of taxes collected from the wealthy and corporations because they have the advantage of hiring experts to help them take advantage of loopholes. This would allow for increased funds for aid programs (Cooper, 2015).
         The changes made so far under the Dodd-Frank Act are a good start to creating a more stable financial system. Welfare programs available today are beginning to address poverty in a targeted manner. The research and current understanding we have of poverty has allowed for progress to be made in addressing poverty and for some comprehension of the outcomes that policy produces. Establishing cause and effect where possible, rather than correlation as the ultimate goal for understanding the link between macroeconomics and microeconomic outcomes can result from better research and data, and a continued effort for public awareness of the prevalence of the poverty that exists even on the soil of the seemingly wealthy United States.  

Works Cited
CFPB. (2015). Final Rules Issued by the CFCB 2015. Consumer Financial Protection      Bureau. Retrieved From http://www.consumerfinance.gov/regulations/
Congressional Research Service. (2015). H.R.2721: 114th Congress (2015-2016), Pathways Out of Poverty Act of 2015. Library of Congress. Retrieved From https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2721?q=%7B"search"%3A%5B"poverty"%5D%7D&resultIndex=1 
Cooper, D., (2015). Without Government Safety Net Programs, Millions More Would Be in Poverty. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved From http://www.epi.org/publication/without-government-safety-net-programs-millions-more-would-be-in-poverty/
Davis, P., Guynn, D. R., and Wardwell LLP (2010). The Financial Panic of 2008 and Financial Regulatory Reform. Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation. Retrieved from http://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2010/11/20/the-financial-panic-of-2008-and-financial-regulatory-reform/ 
Dodd, C., & Frank, B. Bill Text Versions 111th Congress (2009-2010) H.R.4173: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate] – END) [H.R.4173.ENR][PDF]. The Library of Congress THOMAS. Retrieved From http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:h4173:
Federal Reserve. (2015). Federal Open Market Committee: About the FOMC. Board if Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Retrieved From http://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/fomc.htm
Federal Reserve. (2015). Press Release: 2015 Enforcement Actions. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Retrieved From http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/enforcement/20150520a.htm
Grusky, D. B., Mattingly, M. J., Varner, C., Hout, M., Cumberworth, E., Fisher, J., Thompson, J., Smeeding, T., Lichter, D. T., Parisi, D., Taquino, M. C., Jusko, K. L., Reardon, S. F., Burgard, S. A., King, M. M., Chetty, R., Hendren, N., Kline, P., & Saez, E. (2015). State of States: The Poverty and Inequality Report 2015. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. Pathways Magazine on Poverty, Inequality and Social Policy. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/group/scspi/sotu/SOTU_2015.pdf
Krugman, P. (2014). Obama’s Other Success: Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Is Working. The New York Times. Retrieved From http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/04/opinion/paul-krugman-dodd-frank-financial-reform-is-working.html
Vickery, J., & Wright, J. (2013). TBA Trading and Liquidity in the Agency MBS Market. Economic Policy Review, (19320426), 19(1), 1-18. Retrieved from http://0-web.b.ebscohost.com.library.cabrillo.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=0582344f-011d-4764-9fd3-162bc8278c31%40sessionmgr198&vid=5&hid=115

Ginsberg and Social Change



Allen Ginsberg wrote about tragic and provocative topics, but did so with a beauty and attention to the soul. Authorities were threatened by his admission of communistic upbringing, the social critique contained within his poetry, and the public protests he became involved in. He took political action concerning nuclear technology, human rights, and freedom of speech, and stood in opposition to the Vietnam War. Ginsberg investigated madness, addiction, homelessness and the struggles of the soul in adjusting to a sickened society in many of his literary works. His poetry is not only valuable for the tragic beauty it holds, but also for the social critique it offers. The prevalence of persistent mental illness and homelessness in San Francisco today would surely concern Ginsberg because of his upbringing. His mother suffered mental illness, and he himself spent time in a mental institution. Throughout Ginsberg’s career he operated on the principal that love and art can spur on change and therefore where opportunity for creativity exists there is hope for progress despite any contradictory, negative forces. Ginsberg’s would probably conclude that though the San Francisco’s homeless population has remained stagnant, the possibility for change always exists through creativity and through collective social movements that tend to thrive in San Francisco.
Ginsberg so eloquently described the poverty and despair of San Francisco’s Tenderloin in his poem Howl when he wrote of the sufferers who “Who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,” (Ginsberg, 11). Poverty, mental illness, addiction, alcoholism and homelessness have remained persistent in San Francisco despite efforts to effect change. A census in 2015 found that there are 7,539 homeless people on the street and in shelters in San Francisco (ASR, 2015).
When Howl was written in 1955 half of people with a psychological disorder went untreated, people feared stigma. Since then the percentage of individuals with mental disorders has increased significantly. Ginsberg witnessed his mother’s psychological distress while growing up. He later wrote a poem entitled Kaddish that discusses the trials surrounding his mother’s mental illness. He writes of his mother’s hallucinations, of her repeated admittance to psychiatric institutions and of the shock treatments administered to her there.  He accompanied her through it until their split when he was 12 and he left her to travel to New York by bus. Ginsberg’s resolve to understand other human beings may in part have developed from the painful experiences of his young. He wrote “By my later burden—vow to illuminate mankind—this is release of particulars—(mad as you)—(sanity a trick of agreement)” (Poetry Foundation). This is indicative of how formative his early life was in directing his search for the greater truth and meaning underlying the human condition. Ginsberg was surrounded by and wrote of the sadness and of the downfall of brilliant people that he witnessed, and yet maintained a remarkable capacity for resilience. His ability to see with love and act with strength allowed him to inspire others.
The poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg was provocative when published, so much so that authorities tried to have it banned. Supporters argued in the poem’s defense, citing the poem’s political importance as grounds for overlooking any vulgarities. Ginsberg criticized the political environment, and Howl illustrates the pitfalls of people with beautiful spirits who suffer within societal structure. Ginsberg would likely disapprove of the way homeless people are treated today. Howl seeks to open eyes to the readiness with which people scoff at homeless people, while disregarding their intrinsically good qualities. Ginsberg shows us the beautiful soul within the people who society often views as unwanted. Today’s world shows a small portion of the population enjoying great wealth, and he would likely find it appalling that with the available resources, we have neglected to care for those in need. Many of his poems criticize capitalism, and the obsession over capital and profit as a higher priority than human sanctity, which today has grown even more pronounced, stands in stark contrast to the values he espouses. He would probably disagree with anyone who holds homeless people in contempt. Ginsberg said:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night (Ginsberg, 9).

Works Cited

Applied Survey Research. “San Francisco Homeless Point in Time Count and Survey, Comprehensive Report 2015”. Applied Survey Research. 2015. http://sfgov.org/lhcb/sites/sfgov.org.lhcb/files/2015%20San%20Francisco%20Homeless%20Count%20%20Report_0.pdf
Ginsberg, Allen. “Howl and Other Poems: The Pocket Poet Series Number Four”. San Francisco: The City Lights Pocket Bookshop. 1955-56. Print. 15 March 2016
Ginsberg, Allen. “Allen Ginsberg – Biography.” Poetry Foundation. Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, n.d http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/allen-ginsberg Web. 16, March 2016
Ginsberg, Allen. “Kaddish – For Naomi Ginsberg.” Poetry Foundation. Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, 1957-1959. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179391 Web. 17, March 2016


Sixties Counterculture and Social Change 

Is corruption inherent in power? Does high status, outsized responsibility and prestige

breed immorality? From politicians who twist the legal system to their advantage and knowingly

lie to the public, to the leaders of the Black Panthers who took a disproportionate share of the

organization’s funds as soon as hierarchy began to show order, to non-profit employees who

commit tax fraud, to a manager who tips out their least favorite employee less; is it human

nature, selfishness, blind mistaken action, opportunism, manifest destiny, or a combination of

these qualities that causes corrupt behavior? History has shown we are all susceptible to these

errors; who then is responsible for the correction of these flaws?

The infamous characters who stick out in our minds as symbols of the sixties cultural

movement, do so in part because they challenge the rhetoric espoused by our society,

materialism being among the main ideals they challenged. These people often explored

alternative lifestyles rather than following conventional paths.  Hunter S. Thompson, Timothy

Leary, The Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Allen Ginsberg, Mad Magazine and

Rolling Stone Magazine are all symbols of sixties counterculture that endure and have heavy

reference to drug use in common. Drug use and drug addicts were in many cases infamous and

synonymous with cultural movements and social activism. The horrors that befell many

counterculture idols who used drugs heavily in the sixties is distinctive, with LSD and marijuana

being chief of the the sixties movement’s stereotypical drugs. Separating mental health and drug

addiction factors influencing the fates of these individuals is difficult to do. The remittance of

sixties counterculture remains today in the form of art and music, offering a portal to discovery

for people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to explore the world of ideas that this

cultural movement has to offer. Despite the drawbacks of the drug’s impact’s on these

individuals; their history offers insight into the problems of today’s society. One of the primary

lessons of the sixties is that unified action yields greater results. The many “Third World” groups

who came together in pursuit of change put aside differences of race, gender and sexual

orientation for their unified political goal. Strength in numbers allowed them more power of

accomplishment than acting alone would have, and a focus on human caring above materialism

fostered the growth of those organizations that survived and gained influence.

Materialism and fear of lacking controls the minds of many, pushing the hand to work the

grind. These fears inherited from generations of past are passed from mother to son and father to

daughter, they drive the actor to labor as a cog in a machine seeking to avoid the horrors that

abjective poverty brings. Ginsberg writes of the tragedy that underlies the life of the

impoverished man, and what befalls a man who slips from academia to the streets. Purgatoried

existence with no hope for escape drives sights toward status, selfishness and materialism, but it

is fear that is the common motivator.

         Georg Simmel writes about the discrepancy between the rate of spiritual-mental

development and the rate of material development. He says that:

If we survey for instance knowledge, in institutions and comforts, and if we compare them with

the cultural progress of the individual during the same period-at least in the upper classes-we

would see a frightful difference in rate of growth between the two which represents, in many

points, rather a regression of the culture of the individual with reference to spirituality, delicacy

and idealism (Simmel, 8).

This observation holds strong decades after the sixties counterculture movement has made it’s

transition to academic analysis. The large waves of political participation that were seen during

the sixties are still being analyzed, resulting laws are being implemented and continually

contested. The civil rights movement laid the framework for laws that are being written now,

which will not be understood for years to come.

Political activism and protest find their digital embodiment alive and well in the vast internet

infrastructure. Computing is the new frontier of rapid physical advancement with delayed mental

reaction to follow such as Simmel described in the 1950’s. The internet’s political sub-cultures

are parallels to those seen during the sixties. Moore’s Law states that the trend of increased

computing power by a multiple of two per square inch every year will manifest a continuation

into the foreseeable future. Despite recent, nominal slowing to the speed of advancement,

quantum computing opens up possibilities for a whole new stage of speeded advancement.

(Lloyd, 2013)

With rapid technological advancement the implications of the changing law, culture, and

infrastructure that follows aren’t always hastily understood. The interconnectivity that was

fostered between social groups in San Francisco during the sixties is now mimicked more in a

more enhanced way by the internet, and can translate to real-world action.

Edward Snowden is currently engaged in an ongoing legal struggle over the activism he

took part in when he leaked National Security Agency documents. The documents he released

lead to a broader understanding of the extent of the N.S.A. surveillance program’s violation of

people’s privacy. The United States government charged Edward Snowden with three felonies

carrying maximums ten year sentences each. The charges were “’Theft of Government Property,

Unauthorized Communication of Defense Information, [and] Willful Communication of

Classified Communications Intelligence Information of an Unauthorized Person’” (United States

District Court for the Eastern District if Virginia). He was allowed diplomatic asylum in Russia

for a time. The actions on the part of the United States Government demonstrate their perception

of Snowden as a threat, the reach of the government’s power and the implications of laws as old

as. Since the leak of these documents important questions about the balance for needed national

security and personal privacy have been raised. The USA Patriot Act that was signed into law by

George Bush Jr. following 9-11 has been increasingly scrutinized. Despite bi-partisan

contestation, The U.SA. Patriot Act has been repeatedly renewed upon the dates of sunset

deadlines (107 th , 109 th  & 112 th  Congress of the United States). Government officials have

repeatedly used the argument that a need for security justifies collection of personal data, both of

United States citizens, and of individuals abroad. The Patriot act also allows for the indefinite

detention of citizens who have so much as suspected affiliation with terrorists. The Patriot Act

finally saw enough negative attention in 2015 for Congress to finally pass a reform bill on to the

House of Representatives. Without the criminal, self-sacrificing actions of Edward Snowden, it

is doubtful that congress would have acted to push for change to the legislation that most people

would agree is an allowance for the violation of privacy without any transparency.  Anonymous

is a group of hackers who act jointly on collaborative projects when enough individuals agree

that a cause is worth acting upon. Anonymous is unorganized and anyone may join the group, in

this way the group is structurally similar to the protests of the sixties. When the frustration of a

few Anonymous members is expressed, and a need for change is seen an accumulation of

attention forms, then consensus by vote is needed for the hive mind of Anonymous to act. Rather

than gathering at a building like the activists of the sixties, anonymous members overload the

networks that specific company, organization, or government agency networks use to bring down

their website. (Norton, 2012) This seemingly trivial action can result in loss of payment

processing and as a result revenue, negative targeted media attention and lost worker

productivity. Anonymous has hacked The KKK, The Westboro Baptist Church, Donald Trump

and have an ongoing list of other hated groups. Because the members of Anonymous are highly

varied politically, making assumptions about all members would be unwise (Feldman, 2016).

The political actions of both Snowden and the Anonymous hackers share attributes with social

activist from the past. Examples include individuals involved with exposure of the Pentagon

Papers and those involved collectively in the Voters Rights Movement.

When government transparency was lacking the responsibility to decide the morality of

government policy and the policy’s implementation fell strictly on those who had inner access to

secure information. Though many individuals may question the actions of the government, like

was the case with the Patriot Act’s implementation, few will decide to act against a law they see

as unjust if the consequences are so severe. When transparency exists, the decision of morality is

broadened to include the wider public’s opinion for consideration.  Money offers more political

power and sway. The accumulation of wealth and the implied political advantage that offers has

become increasingly important to our national dialogue because of the influence of campaign

contributions.

Paul Kruggman, a prominent economist with an interest in the topics of poverty and

inequality has ben cited as saying that the quality of  life has increase on average over the past

century, and this is the concuss among economists. There is, however growing concern in the

economics community about the growing rate of inequality in the United States, and top experts

are moving more focus toward looking at the Gini coefficient index, a measure of inequality

among the citizens of a country caused by income distribution, rather than obsessing so solely on

the GDP of countries. The field of economics had long held output of goods as a primary

interest, though a more virtuous focus would have been a focus on how to make sure individuals

in need receive recourses when they need them, especially when those goods are scarce. Despite

the stated goal of intent to help allocate resources by those within the field of economics, when

practiced, the results usually yield a focus on profit with benefits to the receivers off the goods as

the secondary consideration.

Materialism at the expense of ones higher values equates to regression. Inequality is

expressive of greed that results in accumulation of excessive wealth within the hands of some

people while other people are left with so little that survival is a uncertain. Our society forges

forward towards what we believe is progress without truly understanding the results of actions,

and only years after having created new technologies are we able to begin to understand the

implications of the choices we have made. Technological advances offer vast benefits to

humanity, but there are also financial, spiritual and physical expense incurred. The unified efforts

of 1960’s activists show us an example of positive change in our world. But history also shows

us the mistakes of complacency and its role in the allowance of corruption in our Capitol. The

Black Panther Party and the Civil Rights Movement are outstanding for their unifying impact.

“What bound different radicals of color together, therefore, was not the politics of identity, but

rather the identity forged out of politics go Third World revolution and the mutual struggle for

self-determination” (Ferreira, 38).  Recent unity between groups such as Democracy Spring,

Black Lives Matter, Appalachia Rising and others may be significant in there symbolic

expression of National frustration over the United States Government’s performance, and like

the movements of the sixties which unified, might exercise greater power through their joint

efforts.

Works Cited

107th Congress of the United States. “U.S.A. Patriot Act, Bill: H.R.3162.” GPO.gov. The United

States Government Publishing Office., 3 January 2001. Web. 23 April 2016.

109th Congress of the United States. “U.S.A. Patriot Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendment

Act of 2006, Public Law No: 109-178.” GPO.gov. United States Government Printing

Office., 9 March 2006. Web. 23 April 2016.

112th Congress of the United States. “Patriot Sunsets Extension Act of 2011” GPO.gov. United

States Government Printing Office., 12 January 2012. Web. 23 April 2016.

Anon at Epic.org. “USA Patriot Act, News.” Epic.org. Electronic Privacy Information Center.,

31 May 2015. Web. 28 April 2016.

Feldman, Brian. “An Incomplete List of Every Person, Place and Institution Upon Which

Anonymous Has ‘Declared War’.”. NYmag.com. New York Magazine., 15 March 2016. Web.

24 April 2016.

Ferreira, Jason M. “With the Soul of a Human Rainbow, Los Siete, Black Panthers, and the

Third Wordlism in San Francisco.” Ten Years That Shook The City: San Francisco 1968-

78. City Lights Foundation. 2011.

Gerstein, Josh. “Snowden Charged with 3 Felonies.” Politico.com. Politico News., 21 June 2013.

Web. 25 April 2016.

Ginsberg, Allen. “Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg.” San Francisco. The City Lights

Pocket Bookshop. 1955-56.

Krugman, Paul. “ Explaining US Inequality Exceptionalism.” NYtimes.com. The New York

Times Opinion Pages, The Conscience of a Liberal., 4 May 2015. Web. 24 April 2016.

Lloyd, Seth. “What Comes After the Computer Chip? Quantum Computing Holds Much

Promise.” Slate.com. Slate News. 20 March 2013. Web. 24 April 2016.

Norton, Quinn. “How Anonymous Picks Targets, Launches Attacks, and Takes Powerful

Organizations Down.” Wired.com. Wired Magazine., 3 July 2012. Web. 24 April 2016.

Simmel, Georg. “The Metropolis a Modern Life, 1903.” Wilhemine Germany and the First

World War, 1890-1918. German History in Documents and Images. Volume 5. Chicag,

University of Chicago Press. Pub. 1971. Original Pub. 1903.

United States District Court for the Eastern District if Virginia. “U.S. vs. Edward J. Snowden.

Criminal Complaint.” Apps.washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post., 14 June 2013.

Web. 25 April 2016.


Ginsberg and Social Change - Essay

Allen Ginsberg wrote about tragic and provocative topics, but did so with a beauty and

attention to the soul. Authorities were threatened by his admission of communistic upbringing,

the social critique contained within his poetry, and the public protests he became involved in. He

took political action concerning nuclear technology, human rights, and freedom of speech, and

stood in opposition to the Vietnam War. Ginsberg investigated madness, addiction, homelessness

and the struggles of the soul in adjusting to a sickened society in many of his literary works. His

poetry is not only valuable for the tragic beauty it holds, but also for the social critique it offers.

The prevalence of persistent mental illness and homelessness in San Francisco today would

surely concern Ginsberg because of his upbringing. His mother suffered mental illness, and he

himself spent time in a mental institution. Throughout Ginsberg’s career he operated on the

principal that love and art can spur on change and therefore where opportunity for creativity

exists there is hope for progress despite any contradictory, negative forces. Ginsberg’s would

probably conclude that though the San Francisco’s homeless population has remained stagnant,

the possibility for change always exists through creativity and through collective social

movements that tend to thrive in San Francisco.

Ginsberg so eloquently described the poverty and despair of San Francisco’s Tenderloin

in his poem Howl when he wrote of the sufferers who “Who cowered in unshaven rooms in

underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,”

(Ginsberg, 11). Poverty, mental illness, addiction, alcoholism and homelessness have remained

persistent in San Francisco despite efforts to effect change. A census in 2015 found that there are

7,539 homeless people on the street and in shelters in San Francisco (ASR, 2015).

When Howl was written in 1955

Half of people with a psychological disorder go untreated, people fear stigma, and the

percentage of individuals with mental disorders has increased significantly. Ginsberg witnessed

his mother’s psychological distress while growing up. He later wrote a poem entitled Kaddish

that discusses the trials surrounding his mother’s mental illness. He writes of his mother’s

hallucinations, of her repeated admittance to psychiatric institutions and of the shock treatments

administered to her there. He accompanied her through it until their split when he was 12 and he

left her to travel to New York by bus. Ginsberg’s resolve to understand other human beings may

in part have developed from the painful experiences of his young. He wrote “By my later

burden—vow to illuminate mankind—this is release of particulars—(mad as you)—(sanity a trick

of agreement)” (Poetry Foundation). This is indicative of how formative his early life was in

directing his search for the greater truth and meaning underlying the human condition. Ginsberg

was surrounded by and wrote of the sadness and of the downfall of brilliant people that he

witnessed, and yet maintained a remarkable capacity for resilience. His ability to see with love

and act with strength allowed him to inspire others.

The poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg was provocative when published, so much so that

authorities tried to have it banned. Supporters argued in the poem’s defense, citing the poem’s

political importance as grounds for overlooking any vulgarities. Ginsberg criticized the political

environment, and Howl illustrates the pitfalls of people with beautiful spirits who suffer within

societal structure. Ginsberg would likely disapprove of the way homeless people are treated

today. Howl seeks to open eyes to the readiness with which people scoff at homeless people,

while disregarding their intrinsically good qualities. Ginsberg shows us the beautiful soul within

the people who society often views as unwanted. Today’s world shows a small portion of the

population enjoying great wealth, and he would likely find it appalling that with the available

resources, we have neglected to care for those in need. Many of his poems criticize capitalism,

and the obsession over capital and profit as a higher priority than human sanctity, which today

has grown even more pronounced, stands in stark contrast to the values he espouses. He would

probably disagree with anyone who holds homeless people in contempt. Ginsberg said:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in

the machinery of night (Ginsberg, 9).


Works Cited

Applied Survey Research. “San Francisco Homeless Point in Time Count and Survey,

Comprehensive Report 2015”. Applied Survey Research. 2015.

http://sfgov.org/lhcb/sites/sfgov.org.lhcb/files/2015%20San%20Francisco%20Homeless

%20Count%20%20Report_0.pdf

Ginsberg, Allen. “Howl and Other Poems: The Pocket Poet Series Number Four”. San Francisco:

The City Lights Pocket Bookshop. 1955-56. Print. 15 March 2016

Ginsberg, Allen. “Allen Ginsberg – Biography.” Poetry Foundation. Harriet Monroe Poetry

Institute, n.d http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/allen-ginsberg Web. 16, March 2016

Ginsberg, Allen. “Kaddish – For Naomi Ginsberg.” Poetry Foundation. Harriet Monroe Poetry

Institute, 1957-1959. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179391 Web. 17, March 2016.

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