"Our Public Enemy Number One"
For a blast from the past that's both fascinating and relevant (particularly as oil approaches $90), read this 1974 address by Gerald Ford to the American public. Much like Ford himself, it was criticized at the time as lightweight and ineffective. But like Ford's presidency, the speech has aged pretty well in tone if not in substance. There's too much in it for me to comment in-depth. But the following stands out:
- Urgency. Can you imagine a president giving a similarly realistic and detail-heavy speech today about anything? It might distract from the latest Britney headline or depress people right before "Dancing with the Stars."
- Myopia and unintentional hilarity. "I have personally been assured by the Chairman of the independent Federal Reserve Board that the supply of money and credit will expand sufficiently to meet the needs of our economy and that in no event will a credit crunch occur." Sound familiar? The same unsustainable policies that created the problem were seen as solutions. And "independent"? Google Arthur F. Burns if you need to.
- Plus ca change. "One-third of our oil--17 percent of America's total energy--now comes from foreign sources that we cannot control, at high cartel prices costing you and me $16 billion--$16 billion more than just a year ago...New legislation will be sought after your recess to require use of cleaner coal processes and nuclear fuel in new electric plants, and the quick conversion of existing oil plants...We must push with renewed vigor and talent research in the use of nonfossil fuels. The power of the atom, the heat of the sun and the steam stored deep in the Earth, the force of the winds and water must be main sources of energy for our grandchildren, and we can do it."
- Poignancy. "My fellow Americans, 10 days ago I asked you to get things started by making a list of 10 ways to fight inflation and save energy, to exchange your list with your neighbors, and to send me a copy. I have personally read scores of the thousands of letters received at the White House, and incidentally, I have made my economic experts read some of them, too."