IT MAY SOUND LIKE sleep-inducing subject matter, but we checked out the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Learning Center’s new exhibit anyway. In short, Power to the People: Regulation and Change illustrates how the gripes of Americans throughout history have shaped our lives. “I think [people] believe that federal agencies aren’t responsive to the public,” says Paul Kaboth, an assistant vice president in the bank’s regulatory department. Turns out they are, and we found the subject oddly interesting. Here are three cool things we learned along the way.
Your new digital television has more in common with the Titanic than just Leo and Kate. The Federal Communications Commission, which is overseeing the switch from analog to digital TV transmissions, was born of reform stemming from the 1912 tragedy. Some felt erratic behavior by wireless telegraph operators helped bring ship and iceberg together, and it led to the cleanup of cluttered airwaves.
Farmers angry at railroad price-gouging in the 1880s led to the creation of the Interstate Commerce Act. The act was later cited in a Supreme Court decision that banned discrimination against travelers and integrated bus stations, allowing the Freedom Riders to travel into the South under federal protection in the summer of 1961.
The 1906 earthquake
that devastated San Francisco ushered in our Federal Reserve System. The San Francisco quake led to a bank crisis a year later and widespread calls for a governmental body to regulate the country’s cash flow. The Federal Reserve has been with us ever since, recently taking a hands-on turn in the wake of the subprime mortgage meltdown.
For more information about the Federal Reserve Bank’s Learning Center visit clevelandfed.org.