To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Malaise Today! Malaise Tomorrow! Malaise Forever!


It was 30 years ago today that Jimmy Carter gave his famous "malaise speech". Carter never actually used the word "malaise" in it -- instead he said Americans suffered from a "crisis of confidence" due to our materialism -- but the label stuck nevertheless.

As Reason's Ron Bailey reminds us, there might have been other reasons for the malaise people were feeling:
Maybe it had more to do with a 13 percent annual inflation rate, than trying to fill up their empty lives with material goods. Average prices increased 40 percent between 1979 and 1981. The prime interest rate peaked at 21.5 percent in December 1980. The unemployment rate fluctuated between 6 and 8 percent for Carter's entire term. Earlier in the decade Americans had suffered under price controls and gasoline rationing imposed by Presidents Nixon and Ford. The 1979 Iranian Revolution caused a spike in oil prices and gasoline rationing was being considered by the Carter administration.
But wait! We may be on the verge of another 70s retro craze, only without the drugs, AIDS-free sex and porn movies starring guys with bushy moustaches.
Could we be about to relive the 1970s? It's all too likely. The Obama administration and Congress don't want to just ration gasoline, but all carbon-based fuels. In addition, President Obama has called for an ambitious $150 billion alternative energy research program. The Democratic leadership has just passed a cap-and-trade bill that mandates that utilities get 20 percent of their energy from renewables like solar and wind by 2020. And the vast deficits piled up Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama may also bring back those 13 percent or higher inflation rates.