Alas, poor Jimmy

Drunk Engineer reminds us that today is Malaise Day:

July 15, 1979 – On this day in history, President Jimmy Carter gave his “malaise” speech:

In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. . . .

I’m asking you for your good and for your nation’s security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel… I have seen the strength of America in the inexhaustible resources of our people. In the days to come, let us renew that strength in the struggle for an energy-secure nation.

It seems especially fitting as the smoke clears in the latest battle of Minnesota’s Budget Wars, and the Republicans, whose secret weapon is a credit card that pays off other credit cards, seem to be the ones standing.  Jimmy warned us about this 32 years ago:

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

I guess we chose the route to failure, and pretty soon there won’t be a bus that can take us back.

he hath bore me on his back a thousand times

3 comments on “Alas, poor Jimmy

  1. mulad says:

    I was still gumming my way through baby food when he made his speech, so I don’t know what the real reaction to the speech was like. My feeling is that the public did respond relatively positively, and that the speech has been put down by political opponents more than anything else.

    I’ve been struck by the fact that overall petroleum consumption in the U.S. did decline massively in the late ’70s and early ’80s. We didn’t reach Carter’s goal (“Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 — never.”), but it did take 20 years for the country’s overall level of both oil consumption to return to late-’70s levels.

  2. Torin says:

    Seems unfair to target Republicans with this… when all one has to do is look at the “Stimulus” bill Obama passed which in addition to doing NOTHING to stimulate the economy, has no way of being paid for!

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