Reliving the 1970’s

I noticed at the beginning of this year how the times we are living today compare to the 1970’s. The “energy crisis,” the dependency on middle east oil, smaller cars, the war in Afghanistan (in the 1970’s Russia was in Afghanistan), the plan to get out of Vietnam (now Iraq), the Arab-Israeli wars, the total discrediting of a President, and finally the general economic funk. In the 1970’s the economy was in a state of “stagflation,” something that the economists of their day couldn’t explain. Today we have the “credit crisis,” again something that economists cannot explain.

The 1970’s ushered in Democratic President Jimmy Carter to save the day. There are a lot of similarities between Obama and Carter. Both have no experience and had to find a Washington old-timer as the V.P. to get credibility. Both were considered to be great intellects by their adoring fans. I remember a skit on SNL where Carter was taking questions on the phone from viewers and a guy who had O.D.’d on LSD called in and the SNL Carter talked him down. Carter’s knowledge was so vast! Carter ended his presidency a failure. He was clueless, and still is. He is good friends with the Saudi royal family. He told a story on Jay Leno about how the King of Saudi let him use his place in Aspen one winter and how Carter’s daughter was so impressed with the opulence of it. It was clear Carter was too.

The Carter campaign message was the same as the Obama campaign, a message of an honest guy coming to Washington to kick those horrible Republicans out of power. Carter offered a large number of programs to “fix” the economy, raise taxes on the evil rich, and bring fairness and competence to the federal government. Sound familiar? The story turned out to be that of a corrupt incompetent politician. Carter had only one success in his career, getting Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin to negotiate peace between their two countries. Sadat got a bullet in his head for his efforts.

The Carter years were not a good time for this country, and we are still paying for it. The last year of the Carter administration made Iran what it is today, a menace to worldwide Democracies and perhaps a real threat to the existence of not only Israel, but all of us. Carter was clueless about how bad the Shah’s alternative would be. To contain fundamentalist Iran we propped up secular Iraq. Now we are in a war in Iraq to clean up the mess that Carter brought us, if we can.

But the biggest single burden that Carter put on us today is his killing of the nuclear power industry. Carter was so worried about a strong Soviet Union that he killed our domestic nuclear power. Does that make sense? It did to Carter. He felt is was better to negotiate with the Saudi’s for more foreign oil (and killing most domestic oil production at the same time) and negotiate with the Soviets to reduce nuclear proliferation. Negotiating with one’s enemies isn’t always the best approach.

For those who don’t know how Carter’s 1970’s ended, think 10% annual inflation and 9% unemployment. Listening to Obama today you would think that our 4% inflation and 6% unemployment are the world coming to an end. During the Carter years Obama was stoned (according to his own autobiography), he probably doesn’t remember any of it. Those who don’t remember history are doomed to relive it.

One Response to “Reliving the 1970’s”

  1. txtransplant Says:

    Lots to think about. I remember the interest rates for home buyers—in the 20% range.

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