Reading Response 2 / Julia Bova

Can Jokes Bring Down Governments begins to talk about how jokes have become a more and more relevant way of reaching an audience. The reading shows that “Jokes are an active, living and mobile form of disobedience”, something that anyone is able to understand, respond to, share, or even make themselves. They are something that anyone can participate in and relate to – from the past, present and future. Joke are something that have surrounded political topics and social issues for decades – beginning with simple political political cartoons in newspapers – to memes and jokes being the center of news broadcasts today.

The reading states that “The joke is the highest form of power. Activists have the action and they live the life. Theorists have the words and they know their stuff But the joke unites both perspectives. Jokes, when politically effective, perform what everybody knew but couldn’t say”. Although jokes have been a continuing form of propaganda, they’ve become more of a ‘pot-stirrer’ today, getting conversation started about topics because they were brought to the attention of people. These are things that bring out the fire and emotions of people today, where they feel as if anything going against their views is directly attacking them. “The future of cartoons and perhaps the most power catalyst for their evolution is the world wide web”. The internet has changed how jokes and cartoons travel – making it cheaper and easier to reach a wide audience and go viral, but also hinders how one can understand or experience it – leaving each individual to assume the intention. This is how social media and the internet changes the view of so many things because of each individual changing the topic or idea to become ‘for’ or ‘against’ themselves or others.

Where as the beginning of political cartoons were about getting ideas and concepts to people – raising awareness or knowledge about a subject – these were things that were truly used as pieces themselves, not necessarily as a self starter for a topic even larger than yourself. There are iconic cartoons from the past that are still remembered today, like Ben Franklin’s ‘Join or Die’ – but the quick and understanding nature that encompasses the topic is what makes it so memorable – not the literal laughing matter.

Cartoons and jokes have made topics and opinions accessible to anyone – regardless of your education or knowledge on a subject, these things can be ‘dumbed down’ and understood by most people.  This makes these topics attainable by anyone – to be understood in whichever way – and be turned into things that they are not. This is where the true conflict arrises and where these jokes can become actually concerning for the state of political or social environments.

Today, memes and imitation become even more of a laughing matter than jokes themselves. These things can make subjects more attainable in a more positive way – where people can feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions, because it is a more lighthearted statement and make people feel like they are more personally connected to a topic, regardless of if they actually are involved.

http://www.people.vcu.edu/~djbromle/cartoon04/projects/anne/index.htm– History of Political Cartoons and their evolution

Secondary Research, 10 Years Later / Julia Bova

SOURCE 1: Economic Insecurity: Americans’ Concerns about their Jobs, Personal Finances, Retirement, Health Costs, Housing, and More

We began this public opinion study to understand the public’s reaction to the 2008 crash, and we have updated it several times since then. The polls in this study show that while people’s opinions of their financial situations and the economy in general have improved over the past few years, their insecurity about the economy remains palpable.

DATA:

Job Anxiety: The substantial anxieties Americans felt about employment after the 2008 crash appear to have eased somewhat.

 “It will be very or fairly likely that I will lose my job or be laid off in the next year” 2010- 21%; 2015- 13%

“There are plenty of jobs available where I live” 2009- 11%; 2015- 40%

“I am worried about being laid off” 2009- 31%; 2014- 19%

“I am worried about my benefits being reduced” 2009- 46%; 2014- 34%

Broader Categories

“I am completely satisfied with my job security” Latest Gallup Asking 2012- 58%

“Someone in my household has lost a job in the past 5 years” 2014 NBC News/WSJ poll- 40%

“Are you worried that your company will move jobs to countries overseas?” 2014 – 8%

Personal Financial Worries: In this section we look at how Americans evaluate their present financial situations, their past financial difficulties, and their future financial prospects. We also examine questions that ask Americans whether they have enough money to make ends meet or are falling behind.

Rate your own personal financial situation – May 2015 ; Excellent- 8%; Good- 35%; Only Fair- 37%; Poor- 19%

Will your situation improve in the next 12 months? – May 2015; Yes, a lot- 11%; Yes, a little- 52%; No, a lot worse- 7%; No, a little worse- 13%

Do you earn enough to lead the kind of life you want to? – 2014; Yes – 42%; No- 57% –> 57% was asked whether they eventually expected to earn enough, 54% said yes

Is it easy to save for retirement? ~20% yes it is easy

Is it difficult to pay for everyday expenses? ~20% yes it is

2/10 in the summer of 2014 said there were times in the past year when they didn’t have enough money to buy the food their family needed.

Health Cost Anxiety: Americans are worried about health care costs. Most pollsters only began asking questions about this regularly around the beginning of the new millennium, but the concerns are long-standing. The trends available to us show that levels of health care anxiety did not change all that much after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

Have you or a family member had trouble in the past 12 months paying a health care bill? Yes, 2013- 28%; Yes, 2010- 30%

Are you very confident you would have enough money or health insurance to pay for usual medical costs? Yes, 2013- 35%; Yes, 2011 28%

Did you have problems paying for health care costs over the past 12 months, not including insurance premiums? No, 2013- 79%

THESIS: Overall there are many contributing factors to the 2008 financial crisis and the anxiety that is still faced by the American people, these areas most commonly being job anxiety, personal finance worries, health cost anxiety, retirement anxiety and housing anxiety.

SOURCE 2: Still Feeling the Crash

DATA:

  • In 2010, 55 percent of registered voters told Fox News the economy was in a recession. In June this year, 22 percent gave this response, but another 37 percent described our situation as a downturn. Thirty-eight percent said the economy was doing okay.
  • The economy is still ranked as a top problem, but far fewer mention it today (15 percent) than gave the responses in late 2008 (58 percent). It’s still the top issue for Americans as they look ahead to 2016.
  • In February 2009, 80 percent told Pew Research Center interviewers that jobs were difficult to find where they lived. By May 2015, that response had dropped 27 points, but still slightly more than half, 53 percent, said the job picture wasn’t positive.
  • In early 2009, 42 percent told Ipsos interviewers that they, someone in their family or someone they knew could lose a job in the next six months as a result of economic conditions. Early this year, 14 percent said this was likely.
  • Today, Americans are a little more confident about their own finances than they have been. In May 2015 only 8 percent said their personal finances were in “excellent” shape and 35 percent said they were good.
  • Few Americans feel they have the resources to save. A CBS News/New York Times trend shows that since the mid-2000s, no more than 38 percent of people have said their household income is “more than enough so that they can save and buy some extras.” Reaching a low of 22 percent in January 2010, that number was 30 percent in CBS’s February 2015 poll, with 51 percent saying they had just enough to meet bills and obligations. Almost 20 percent said they did not have enough to meet their financial commitments.

THESIS: Though Americans have made swift improvements to their overall financial situations, there is still great impact from the financial crisis happening today.

SOURCE 3: The Great Recession and its Aftermath

DATA:

  • Average home prices in the United States more than doubled between 1998 and 2006, the sharpest increase recorded in US history, and even larger gains were recorded in some regions.
  • Ultimately, home prices fell by over a fifth on average across the nation from the first quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of 2011. This decline in home prices helped to spark the financial crisis of 2007-08, as financial market participants faced considerable uncertainty about the incidence of losses on mortgage-related assets
  • The overall economy peaked in December 2007, the month the National Bureau of Economic Research recognizes as the beginning of the recession. The decline in overall economic activity was modest at first, but it steepened sharply in the fall of 2008 as stresses in financial markets reached their climax. From peak to trough, US gross domestic product fell by 4.3 percent, making this the deepest recession since World War II. It was also the longest, lasting eighteen months. The unemployment rate more than doubled, from less than 5 percent to 10 percent.
  • The recession ended in June 2009, but economic weakness persisted. Economic growth was only moderate – averaging about 2 percent in the first four years of the recovery – and the unemployment rate, particularly the rate of long-term unemployment, remained at historically elevated levels.

THESIS: Specific areas of American’s finances are still being affected today including the rise and fall of the housing market, and effects on the financial sector, the broader economy and the financial regulation.

SYNTHESIS: Because of quick policy making and adjusting within the US Government, there are definitely areas of improvement within the last 10 years. While there is still much work to be done in understanding the situation and its consequences fully, there have been strong efforts to change this financial sector and inform the future as much as possible for the betterment of the American people.

Reading Response 1 / Julia Bova

Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations describes the four main reasons for the financial crisis through a series of case studies. These case studies outline the issues with high risk lending, regulatory failures, inflated credit ratings and investment bank abuses. The four key points include a variety of parties, from US financial institutions to investment banking. Through these, “this Report is intended to help analysts, market participants, policymakers, and the public gain a deeper understanding of the origins of the crisis and take the steps needed to prevent excessive risk taking and conflicts of interest from causing similar damage in the future”, identifying a key point, explaining the facts thoroughly via specific case studies and giving recommendations through a definitive and unbiased Senate decision.

The 2008 Housing Crisis by Colin McArthur and Sarah Edelman described one main idea that contributed to the Housing Crisis, “the rise of predatory lending and products with exotic features marketed to consumers without adequate information or preparation and sometimes using fraudulent information”, and steered more towards an idea of blame and wrong of the fault of Wall Street and not the Federal Housing Administration. This article stated, “Instead of too much government, it was the lack of sufficient government oversight in key areas… that transformed a housing bubble into a global financial crisis.”

It is clear that one article was written with more bias than the other, as the Center for American Progress’s article focuses on a more singular issue, clearly pushing the idea that the true problem was not the government but the lack of responsibility by Wall Street. This article lists through organizations that “did not cause the crisis”, leading up to this main idea of who did, “the primary driver of this lending was demand from Wall Street investors for mortgages”.

The US Senate reports lays out succinct information for readers to understand what they identify as the four main issues, and gather their own opinion based upon this unbiased analysis via specific case studies. These two articles both describe that a cause was driven by the investors of Wall Street via power and greed within this banking system.

As a more visual learned, I turned to YouTube for a visual representation of the information written throughout these two articles. One I found helpful for understanding the basics was The Causes and Effects of the 2008 Financial Crisis. This video was successful at laying out these same facts and truly connecting them all together, through the housing market, mortgages and investors. The simple examples used to describe this big issue were easier to wrap my mind around (as someone who is coming to the table with no background knowledge of this event). I found it useful to literally ‘see’ where the housing market fit into things more with Wall Street, the connections between the housing market, investors and government, via the idea of treasury bills, rather than relying on my new knowledge to place that into the scenario. A clearly defined ‘turning point’ of the creation and implementation of sub-prime mortgages really helped put all the information on a clear timeline and push the information from these two articles together.