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To whom do we afford grace?

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

Amongst the many structural and ideological flaws I found in Conti’s op-ed is that, despite what we commonly consider to be the nature of op-ed pieces, the article in fact fails to make a strong claim. In the hopes of not repeating the mistake, I will state my opinion as clearly as I can: although it is true that the sexual offender registry should be part of the equation in our discussion of criminal justice reform, Luke Heimlich’s case is not representative of the problems with the way we treat sexual offenders, nor should we have any sympathy for his situation.

I would like to begin by addressing possible objections to the very nature of an op-ed written in response to another op-ed. It appears to be an opinion held on this campus that if someone responds negatively to a political belief held by one individual, they are perpetuating the silencing of certain voices. This is an unbased claim. There is a necessary distinction between making a moral judgement on the permissibility of an action (in this case writing an op-ed) and making a moral judgement on the action itself. In this particular case, my moral and critical judgement falls into the latter camp.

Conti’s article devoted, by my estimation, about 270 words to Heimlich’s athletic capabilities. It devoted one sentence to describing the crime he committed. I do appreciate the idea that describing the details of sexual assaults, molestations, and harassment can be insensitive to the victim. I also believe that it is nonetheless often necessary to make these details as public as the victim would allow in order for the public to cast a more accurate moral judgement. Yes, all acts of sexual violence are heinous, but some are more heinous than others. In the research I’ve done, it seems that the victim’s family seems willing to have this information disclosed. Heimlich sexually molested a family relative for the first time when she was four and the last time when she was six. The first time this happened, court documents state, “she told him to stop, but he wouldn’t.” She is also quoted as saying, “it hurt.”

Conti’s article also failed to mention what the victim’s family feels about Heimlich’s opportunity to continue playing baseball. All that was necessary was a quick Google search to find out that victim’s mother has stated, “I’m appalled that the college he’s going to would even have him on their team.” I take it to to not be a controversial opinion that we should value the sentiments of the victim’s family on whether someone has been rehabilitated enough to continue participating normally in society over our own.

I hope that the details of the molestation and the opinions expressed by the victim’s family will help dispel any possible assumption that the molestation was an isolated incident whose consequences are no longer relevant to the victim and her family. So long as the victim, now 11 years old, continues to suffer what I can only imagine to be incredible psychological trauma, I am utterly unwilling to devote any time or energy to dwelling on the end of Heimlich’s baseball career. I cannot imagine any point in my wholehearted condemnation of Heimlich at which I would, as Conti puts it, “become no better than he.” Perhaps my imagination is lacking, but I cannot envision a situation in which overzealous and unforgiving punishment of a child molester makes us no better than a child molester.

None of this is to say that I do not fully appreciate the fact that the criminal justice system has large room for reform in all areas, including the sexual offender registry. In Washington law, any minor in possession of consensual sexting with a person of any age is obligated to register as a sex offender. This is a far less serious offense than child molestation and yet results in the designation of the same societal qualifier. These laws also disproportionately affect persons of color and low-income people who are then faced with limited job prospects and ostracization by society. To put the racialized elements of the registry into perspective, Brock Turner, the last white college athlete to make national headlines for sexual assault, now gives talks on college campuses about the dangers of excess drinking. Luke Heimlich is not representative of the registry’s problems or of the room society does or does not allow for rehabilitation. He is a white man who molested a child and went on to play college baseball.

Sexual molestation undoubtedly differs from other acts of violence that we punish by law. It is a loss of autonomy; it is a loss of humanity, it is a profound degradation. Acts of sexual violence are inherently different from other acts of violence and deserve to be evaluated differently. This does not justify the racially and socioeconomically biased implications of the sexual offender registry or the uniquely aggravated ostracization that many sexual offenders face. Rehabilitation has great value, but why is it that we only seem to allow for white athletes to be rehabilitated?

Conti characterizes Heimlich’s case as a “fall from grace.” I take it that Conti intended to use grace’s denotation as the condition of being favoured by someone. Ironically, in the Christian theology which popularized the aforementioned denotation, Grace is the often unmerited favor God bestows upon the human race as a whole, sinners and innocents alike. Within this context, we should evaluate how modern society has cruelly co-opted this notion. White men with athletic ability are indeed bestowed Grace by society as a whole: their perceived heroism perseveres against all odds. Others are not as lucky. They were never afforded grace, so they cannot fall. Luke Heimlich has indeed fallen, dragged down by his own atrocities. We should devote our care and energy to those who do not have the opportunity to rise, not to whether someone like Luke Heimlich deserved to fall.

 

I am not a tough Jew

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I am not a tough Jew, and I don’t want to be one, either. Last week, Bill Fedullo wrote an op-ed about how the image of the “tough Jew” impacts diaspora Jews’ perceptions of the State of Israel. I’m not sure whether Fedullo is familiar with the extent to which contemporary Jewish studies scholars have come to critique this trope, and I don’t blame him if he isn’t; the tough Jew is pervasive, and the field of Jewish studies is esoteric. But I nonetheless do not want to be lumped in with a general Jewish population assumed to idealize the tough Jew, because I definitely don’t. So I’m writing this op-ed.

An Israeli army physical fitness book published following the 1967 war does a nice job of summarizing what has come to be called the  “new” or the “tough” Jew: “The ‘traditional Jew’ of Eastern Europe was known, in the past, for his capability to bear mental sufferings and moral tortures and for his physical weakness…With the new Israel it is quite different. The citizen is taller, he has broad shoulders and his muscles are stronger.” It’s worth noting as well, as Todd Samuel Presner does in his book “Muscular Judaism,” that the new Jew is, as indicated by the many “he’s” in the above excerpt, decidedly male, as well as defined by his ability to inflict violence. This widely disseminated exercise manual—my family owns a copy—paints old country Ashkenazi Jews as impotent and needing to be replaced by a more masculine and powerful image. I don’t want to see my ancestors as impotent, and I don’t think they were. Some of them were eighteenth century scholars of Jewish law, whose works are still studied today. My grandparents were not passive victims, but ingenious resistors of Nazi control both prior to and during their imprisonment in concentration camps.

Let’s switch gears to what I really care about: Jewish religious texts. In I Samuel, the Israelites plead to Samuel to appoint them a king “to judge us like all the (other) nations” (I Samuel 8). Samuel warns the people of the oppression that will ensue if he coronates a king, but after being convinced by God, he begrudgingly does so. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work out so well for the Israelites. As a note, my use of the term “Israelites” is not a statement regarding Zionism, but the scholarly term for the people described in the Bible who later became Jews, also known as the descendants of a person named Israel. Lesson # 1: It doesn’t work out for Jews when we try to imitate the oppressive norms of the communities around us. It’s also just immoral to do so.

But the Bible isn’t really the foundational text of contemporary Judaism; the Talmud is. In the Babylonian Talmud, the bad boy gladiator Resh Lakish, who though ethnically Jewish, largely rejected Jewish culture, gives up his lance to study Jewish texts upon seeing a leading scholar, Rabbi Yohanan, bathing in the Jordan River. Upon first glance, Resh Lakish thinks Rabbi Yohanan is a woman, and the reader presumes Resh Lakish approaches him as an object of his sexual desire. Indeed, Rabbi Yohanan is described elsewhere in the Talmud as looking effeminate. After finding out that the gender-bending Rabbi Yohanan isn’t a woman, Resh Lakish nonetheless calls him beautiful and enters into an arguably homoerotic relationship with him. The two go on to be the leading scholars of their generation. After the death of Resh Lakish, Rabbi Yohanan becomes inconsolably bereaved, and calls out for him as one does for a lost lover.  Lesson #2: Jewish texts display models of masculinity very different from the “tough Jew.” This is just one example of gender-bending dudes in the Talmud among many. Scholars like Daniel Boyarin, Charlotte Fonrobert, and our own Professor Gwynn Kessler are my favorite starting points for learning about these texts. There are also a number of different trans and/or intersex characters discussed in the Talmud and other Rabbinic writings, though not always favorably.

As a transgender Jew, it doesn’t work out so well for me when our community continues to idealize an aggressive masculine ideal of nineteenth and twentieth century Europe (see Daniel Boyarin’s scholarship on the genesis of this trope). It’s worth noting that before Jews adopted this ideal, it was imposed on us as a sort of civilizing mission, since Jews were seen as broadly and unacceptably gender nonconforming (again, thank you Boyarin). More than this ideal doesn’t work out for me, it really doesn’t work out for women. By continuing to idealize the tough Jew, we embrace an ideal of violence and we deride our ancestors. While we must be deeply committed to acknowledging and dealing with the misogyny of our textual tradition, our texts might also provide some alternatives to toxic masculinity, and to the “tough Jew.” It is not enough to simply assert alternative masculinities and pretend like that means the patriarchy is over. But ceasing to glorify aggressive masculinity is certainly a step.

A response to “Swarthmore as a college”

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I begin this counter-response to Zac Arestad’s op-ed response “Swarthmore as a college” to my op-ed “Swarthmore as a nation state” with my gratitude for the time and thought Arestad put into critiquing my arguments. I would like to thank him for his considerations of alternative perspectives that I would like to draw in to make this conversation richer and to elucidate some of my initial points. Due to of the brief nature of op-ed pieces, I was compelled to simplify my arguments; this may have led to the misinterpretation of portions of my piece.

I agree with Arestad that students are consumers but I reject the notion that the roles of consumer, producer, and product are mutually exclusive. Arestad asks, “ … in what ways are we exchanged? How precisely does the college circulate us as capital?” Swarthmore is like every other college or graduate school. Its ultimate product can be expressed by the equation “graduates – dropouts = product.” Don’t colleges boast about how many successful graduates they produce? Therefore, every Swattie is a potential product. When graduates approve of their experience at Swarthmore, this enhances the college’s reputation and improves its ability to attract high quality applicants. If, however, the system is so onerous it produces significant dropouts, numerous graduates with complaints, or even anxiety disorders, it loses credibility as an elite institution. Think of it this way: learning in the current Swarthmore system is a bit like learning basketball from an abusive coach. Despite their yelling at you, you might learn something about the game. It is not, however, the ideal way to learn basketball, nor is it likely to produce the best results for the most players.

Every Swattie is also a consumer, as Arestad points out, but what we are buying is not only an education, but access to the workspace and resources of the college. While students are consumers of these beneficial resources, if we were consumers in the common sense of the word, wouldn’t we be able to demand a refund if the product or service did not meet our needs?

Every Swattie must also work within the system to produce the ultimate product. No, we are not manufacturing sweaters to be sold in the bookstore and Swarthmore is certainly not “turning a profit on our seminar papers” but this does not mean that students are not producers of capital for the institution. This capital includes the reputation and prestige current students and graduates (as previously explained) produce for the college which can be then be traded for more qualified students to continue the production of capital for the institution. Think of the college as a machine shop: The corporation provides and maintains the space and the equipment but the worker fashions the product from the raw materials at hand. In the case of a college, the space is the campus (maintained by staff), the resources are the professors, and the raw material is the student.

In these three ways I argue that students can be products, consumers, and workers simultaneously. These three roles we fulfill however, all work to perpetuate the capitalist institutional model of production that neglects the humanity of so many of our community members.

This brings me to Arestad’s critique of my exclusionary conception of the Swarthmore community. In my op-ed, nowhere do I restrict the “Swarthmore community” to students and I was not referring exclusively to students when I make the statement “we are the ones who make this college operate.” My original words were, “Each member of this community has earned his/her/their spot and we are what makes this institution operate so we ought to be the ones in charge,” meaning each member including students, faculty, and staff which I define as students (that’s us), faculty (professors), and staff (ITS, library and other college service workers, EVS, office workers, and the administration).

At one point, Arestad asks me, “When was the last time an administrator timed a student nap?” Nowhere in my initial piece do I conflate the administration with the institution. Administrators are as integral a part of this community of workers as any other group. When I cited an example of a student needing an extension to prioritize personal care, I did not say the faculty do not permit this. That would be to conflate the faculty with the institution which I explicitly differentiate. Swarthmore faculty are often the most supportive of students taking measures of self-care. By “institution” I refer to the structure and system constituted by the conventions, norms, and values that are currently in place, which actually do limit our ‘nap time.’ I have encountered many members of our community who have expressed feelings of exclusion and invisibility as a result of these structures. The Campus Climate Survey corroborates the presence of these feelings on campus. These are the structures that I hope our community will question and challenge. The restructuring I suggest in my op-ed will result from conversations within the community, inclusive of all members.

My op-ed was constructed from sentiments I collected from numerous conversations throughout my time at Swarthmore with students, faculty, and staff, all from a diversity of backgrounds and roles within the college. The conversations I have had were consistent with the desire for a more inclusive, autonomous community, as recently revealed by the Campus Climate Survey.

I do not attempt to bring us together under a “national banner” but rather to catalyze conversations among community members about the type of community we want to build. We have all chosen to be here and I hope that by restructuring our institution to best reflect the identities of its people and meet our collective needs, we can engender solidarity, tolerance, and love for one another.

Swarthmore as a college

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It is important for me to preface this piece by saying that I admire, appreciate, and agree with much of what Sarah Dobbs had to say in her recent Op-Ed titled “Swarthmore as a nation-state.” I believe that doing the work of reminding ourselves that the college is, in fact, a corporation is a critical first step toward formulating effective institutional critiques. Moreover, I found many of Dobbs’ insights—especially those regarding our need to question the purpose and project of our college (and colleges writ large)—to be incredibly elucidating. However, Dobbs made two errors which generate some nontrivial political and theoretical problems with her argument.

First, it’s important to look at the argument directly behind the headline, “Swarthmore as nation-state.” In a particularly audacious move, Dobbs sets us up as “citizens” of the “neoliberal” “nation” of Swarthmore. While managing to include all the most important buzzwords of contemporary Marxist political analysis, Dobbs fails to substantiate this argument. I’m almost more concerned with the attitude she takes towards the college than the shortcomings of her “Marxist” analysis. In her article, Dobbs clearly restricts the “Swarthmore community” exclusively to students, and it is absolutely laughable to claim that we are the ones who make this college operate. In her wild claims about the exploitation of our “labor” (and surely, it’s generous to characterize the vast majority of our work this way), Dobbs elides entirely any actual proletarians who might call the “Swarthmore community” home. It is by no means the students who make this institution operate, but the dedicated cohort of Environmental and Dining Services workers who provide us with the cushioned, manicured institution within which we have the pleasure of passing our days.

While glossing over the intellectual and political diversity of our student body, Dobbs finally attempts to bring the Swarthmore community (again, just students) together under a national banner, reminding us once more that we ought to see ourselves as a nation. However, this chafes uncomfortably with her simultaneous emphasis on Swarthmore as a corporation. It’s ridiculous for conservative lawmakers to insist that the United States be run like corporations—it’s equally ridiculous for Dobbs to equate the college, a corporation, with a nation.

Her most important error lies in the confused terms of “instruments of production,” worker/laborer,” and “raw material.” According to Dobbs, Swarthmore students are all of these things at the same time. This confusion generates a number of problems that distract from the important message buried in her article. The most important thing to bear in mind is that Swarthmore students do not generate capital for the college by their labor. This fact entirely disrupts the Marxian line of her reasoning. Dobbs’ claims about the fear that encourages us to “produce” fall apart when one considers how generous most Swarthmore professors are with extensions as well as the presence of numerous campus resources designed to provide just this sort of personal accommodation. This Marxist argument is also dependent, as Dobbs rightly points out, on a reserve army of labor—her “fresh hands.” However, in the context of Swarthmore such a relative surplus population is not provided. Certainly, the college could easily fill the institution three times over with exceedingly well-qualified applicants. However, accepted students never compete with the incoming class for space at Swarthmore.

With regards to her claims that “students are the raw material to be commodified and translated into capital for the institution,” I would ask, in what ways are we exchanged? How precisely does the college circulate us as capital? While Dobbs insists that “Swarthmore overemphasizes cultivating our brains because it is the organ that produces capital for the institution,” I have to argue that our academic work does not constitute capital, even indirectly. The college emphasizes our intellectual development because that is the service we’re paying them for, not because they’re turning a profit on my seminar papers. Ultimately, Dobbs gets the employee-employer relationship backwards. We—students—are consumers of a service commodity produced by the college. The college employs hundreds of individuals to provide this service.

Dobbs even attempts to include changes in party-policy in this worker-capitalist dichotomy: “Our breaks are timed, our fun is regulated, our freedom is managed for us by the boss.” I would ask Dobbs—when was the last time an administrator timed a student nap? Who, in this metaphor strained well past the point of breaking, is ‘the Boss’? I’m not going to pretend to be in favor of changes to campus policies that have demonstrably reduced student control over party spaces—but it’s incorrect to couch this relationship exclusively in proletarian-capitalist terms.

Dobbs’ argument about our “rhetoric of generosity” (which I must admit is itself pretty great rhetoric), is similarly unsound. As students we produce no commodities as such and don’t receive the “wages” of financial aid, food, and housing as payment for labor, but rather in exchange for our paid tuition. Moreover, following a fantastic piece by Isabel Knight titled “Does Swarthmore ‘Bait and Switch’ Financial Aid?” these services remain mostly constant throughout one’s time at Swarthmore and have nothing to do with a student’s “productivity.”

Dobbs is right to call for an increased attention to the question, “Why Swarthmore?” which runs far deeper than a simple admissions essay. Answering “why?” or “so what?” is nearly always a critical step in any endeavor. At that level, Dobbs’ piece is absolutely necessary. But by placing undergraduate students as the proletariat in a Marxian analysis, she manages to miss entirely the real labor that makes the college possible. By figuring the college as a nation-state of which students are citizens, she elides the unique forms of belonging that characterize time spent at a four-year college. If action for progressive change is to be made, attention to these particularities of experience (as consumer rather than citizen-laborer) becomes even more essential. It’s at this level of strategy and practice that theoretical writing has to be as conceptually clear as possible. And it’s in this spirit that I hope someone will write another op-ed tearing me apart next week.

A response to “Privilege Doesn’t Exist”

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Around a month ago, an op-ed in the Daily Gazette raised some eyebrows when it claimed that privilege does not exist. It cited privilege as a “social construct”, and argued that compassion “is not a natural phenomenon.” While the mere utterance of the phrase “social construct” may cause eyes to roll, I would contend that everything is a social construct. However, the reality of something exists not in its construction, but in its effects.

Let me begin by saying that I am a sexist.

Inspired by the words of George Yancy, professor of philosophy at Emory University, I am a sexist in that I benefit from sexist institutions. I am a sexist in that I have been a complicit consumer of industries that generate billion-dollar profit margins from the sexual objectification and degradation of women. I am a sexist in that, despite my best intentions, I perpetuate these sexist institutions in subtle ways. I am not innocent.

Do not tell me that you do not see gender, race or color (or any other marker we have used to discriminate others); to do so is to ignore your privilege. Yes, privilege is hard to think about for those of us who have it. By definition, if you are privileged you do not have to concern yourself with the same things that those who are less fortunate do on a daily basis. As a man, I do not have to worry about a catcaller as I walk into a dark city alley. As an Asian, I do not have to worry about immediately being suspected as a thief as I walk into a store. As someone with an economically stable family, I do not have to worry about working three jobs just to keep my family afloat.

Acknowledging privilege is even harder. I am not trying to say that your identity is defined by your privilege or that your entire life story is one of privilege, but I ask you to accept a piece of wisdom shared by our beloved Barry Schwartz, who says, “people deserve what they get, but not everyone gets what they deserve.” It is about time for all of us to appreciate the influences and experiences that have created who we are today, and to identify which of those pressures may have been caused by systems that are fundamentally unjust.

The premise of capitalism is that if you work harder, you deserve more. I can already hear people saying “well if you have less, then why don’t you work harder, you lazy bum?” By that logic, are you telling me that a CEO works 331 times harder than the average worker and 774 times harder than the minimum wage worker? Are you telling me the reason there are only four black CEOs and 24 female CEOs in the U.S. Fortune 500 is because white males have simply worked that much harder? The issue is not that we lack the desire to live in a meritocracy, but that we ignore the fact that we do not live in one. I am not suggesting that white men, for example, have not worked hard for their positions; rather, I am arguing that those who come from more disadvantaged backgrounds have to work even harder to get to the same place.

Like any education, the acknowledgement of privilege should not just be a one-off “yeah I’m kind of privileged,” but rather the constant reflection of one’s self. But this reflection should not be defined by the terms of the privileged; after all, those who live with privilege should not get to define the suffering of those who are oppressed. For example, one could contrast the militaristic responses to unarmed ‘Black Lives Matter’ protestors to the peaceful response to the recent whimpering of the Oregon ‘militia’ group. While media outlets were quick to characterize ‘Black Lives Matters’ protesters as thugs and thieves, they could also somehow afford to represent a makeshift group of armed white men as valiant defenders against a tyrannical federal government. Far too often, the ability to judge and criticize responses against privileged institutions has been concentrated in the hands of the select few who are powerful, and thus is in itself a privilege.

Now that is not to say that those of us with privilege are actively seeking to continue cycles of oppression. The difficulty in our contemplations of privilege lies not within how we choose to interact with others but with an unconscious form of bias. Racism, for example, usually does not manifest in white people shouting racial slurs at minorities, but in the chorus of voices finding excuses for why innocent black children die at the hands of white police officers every day.

Perhaps I am being too normative, too idealistic. Perhaps I should not wish that our country had fewer people that agreed with the sexist, racist and xenophobic rantings of Donald Trump. Perhaps I should not wish to live in a society that abolished hetero- and cis-normative gender roles. Perhaps I should wish for a world where Tamir Rice would never grow up to be 13 years old.

I know that deep down the majority of us (at least at Swarthmore) are well intentioned and work hard towards eliminating problematic thoughts from our heads, but the bulk of the problem is unconscious and that is what privilege is. As long as we live in a sexist establishment and have failed to f*ck over the patriarchy, I am prepared to continue to view myself as a sexist, as a benefactor of such a social organization and as part of the problem. Maybe I am just another socialist ranting about how sociopolitical systems should work for everybody. Or maybe, just maybe, the world does not have to be so sexist, racist, xenophobic, heternomative, cisnormative, ageist, ableist…

 

Macroeconomic illiteracy

in Letter to the Editor/Opinions by

In his February 24th article, “A critique of the Federal Reserve System,” Eric Yao provides some seriously disturbing, frankly catastrophic, prescriptions for central banking in the United States. In his critique, Yao channels century-old Austrian economic theories that are unfortunately still espoused by a conservative minority. While it is hardly a point of contention that the Fed’s policies have been far from perfect in the past century, proposing to get rid of the central bank altogether or to eliminate its power to conduct monetary policy implies a severe case of macroeconomic illiteracy.

I will, however, save my remedy for this until later. First, let’s address the colossal impracticality of the gold standard alternative Yao proposes (I am forced to assume gold here because Yao simply fails to make his actual choice clear and he seems to like Ron Paul). In essence, a gold standard calls for a strict tethering of the value of a country’s currency to the amount of gold it has in reserve. As of September 2013, the US held about 8,133.5 metric tons of gold and the current market price of gold is roughly 1,350 dollars per troy ounce. The current Money Supply M0, the most liquid measure of the amount of dollars in circulation, is about 3.7 trillion dollars. With these conditions, if we were to successfully attach the value of the dollar to gold, one of three things (or perhaps a combination) must happen: we would have to allow the price of gold to rise to about 10 times its current level, find a way to increase the amount of gold we hold in reserve beyond the amount we know to exist on earth, or allow unprecedented deflation and shrink in the money supply.

I’ll address each of these points separately. If the dollar value were connected to gold price, the gold market’s inherent volatility would have the potential to cause serious and uncontrollable economic instability. Small changes in the market price for gold would cause equivalent changes in the dollar value and ultimately the price level of all goods across the country. I can only imagine that allowing the price of reserve gold to increase tenfold in an attempt to attach it to the current money supply will exacerbate this problem.

Now for the second scenario — increasing our gold holdings beyond the amount that actually exists in the world. As I am unaware of any major advances in alchemy since the early 18th century, we’ll probably have to write this one off as a no-go.

Lastly, we’ll look at the effects of massive deflation and shrinking money supply. Here are a few immediate consequences: unbearable increases in real debt burdens, an astronomical jump in unemployment rates all over the world, and sure destabilization of an already wobbly international economy. Chaos, as I understand it, is poor economic policy.

Now that it is clear that the standard-backed solution is not a viable one, we can tackle one of Yao’s few important criticisms: “Some citizens have never even heard of the Federal Reserve, let alone explored its history and influence.” Why don’t we fix that here?

Yao claims that the Fed has “[exacerbated] political and socioeconomic policy by creating boom and bust cycles” through its monetary policy. Let’s turn to the monetary policies the Fed used during the Great Recession of 2009 and see if they were indeed as harmful as Yao indicates. Luckily for us, renowned economists Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi have already taken on the complex task of isolating the effects of the Fed’s monetary policies in response to the Great Recession. Data from their acclaimed 2010 paper, “How the Great Recession Ended,” shows that financial policies, which include quantitative easing and money supply changes, were single-handedly responsible for a 2.65% increase in real GDP, a 4.46% increase in payroll employment and a 2.70% decrease in the unemployment rate. This, I’d say, is decidedly unharmful.

Analyzing even this small portion of the Fed’s history provides an overwhelming argument for the preservation of its monetary power. Yao fails to realize that a fiat-monetary system, like the one we have in place, has the ability to manage inflation and an even greater potential to respond to serious economic crises and market failures. More importantly, eliminating monetary policy altogether will only intensify the “boom and bust” cycles that rightfully worry him.

Mark Koba, Senior Editor at CNBC, provides possibly the most convincing support for the Fed’s existence: “Out of 100 years of Fed control, the country has had 22 recessional years, including one depression. The 100 years before the Fed saw 44 recessions and six depressions.” The problems with the central banking system are real and pressing. Putting Janet Yellen, possibly the most qualified Chair in Fed history, out of a job and transferring control of the world’s most important currency to a shiny metal, however, is not the solution.

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