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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The 36th Anniversary of the Malaise Speech

Back on this date, July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter gave a speech (or some called it a dictatorial edict) known ultimately as the 'Malaise' speech though Carter never uttered the word.

"I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy... I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might. The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. 

It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation..."
So 36 years later, what really has changed?

The economy is still a mess; actually in far worse shape than it ever was in 1979 but thanks to keeping the interest rates manipulatively low so banks can lend to each other, most don't really feel the pinch..

Credit cards of course being the buffer..

If starting today, the only denominations accepted to make purchases were cash, checks and debit cards directly tied to bank accounts, the US economy would topple upon itself in less than a week
This is what happens when most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, possess less than $1k in total life savings and are fully dependent on credit cards and their monthly minimum payments to keep afloat

There wasn't this glut of credit cards back then..  In 1979 if you wanted AMEX or Diners' Card, you paid an annual fee and were expected to pay the Entire balance of your bill statement when received each month.

The biggest change between then and now concerns Presidential dishonesty; when Carter lost badly to Reagan it taught politicians of both parties to never EVER be honest and truthful to the American people because they simply can't take it..
They need things dumbed down and spoon fed with a teaspoon of sugar, and always communicate to the people with a smile, some words about God and a slogan ending as to how superior we are vs all other people in the world..

Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama...  All God-Damn phonies, and if you dare to nitpick one vs another, you're too blindly loyal to your party allegiances

Like him or Loathe him, Carter was the last President to truly communicate with the American people with the naive belief they were Adults and could handle adversities, especially when expressed without any candy coating.
Back then during the 'malaise' period, the US economy grew by +3.4% each quarter which wasn't terrible but wasn't the greatest either..

The US GDP for the first quarter of 2015 (January to March) was +0.2%!!

And the imbecilic people still shop and spend like we're in recovery and jobs are a-plenty...

The last time the US showed quarterly growth at above 3.4% was pre-Recession which began in Dec 2007...
Gasoline in 1979 cost around 90 cents/gal on average which is the equivalent today of $2.70..

Currently gas is rising so regular unleaded is on average $3.05 with some areas of the country less and others more

People really don't want honesty from their political leaders..
Back in 1992, Ross Perot ran for President as an Independent back when the national debt was just under $3 Trillion (compared to $18.3T today, a mere 23 years later) and a major theme of his campaign was warning about repercussions if not getting control of the debt load

Later he tried to warn the nation about the perils of NAFTA to deaf ears

And Perot would buy all this TV air time and in 30 min increments try to explain using lots of pie charts and graphs the economic path the US was on, and the sacrifices needed by the American people to stop the rolling tide..

And Saturday Night Live and others mocked the man; turned Perot into a cartoonish caricature and Americans chose a man who 'felt' their pain more than the guy who wanted to alleviate it

And so every politician wanting to become President says we're the greatest country and we're blessed and #1 and rah-rah-rah

And every President smiles and grins and tells people everything is A-OK, even during the worst tragedies to befall our nation..
'Want to fight terrorism?  Shop for stuff and go on vacation and donate blood and blankets and buy your hunny a watch or tennis bracelet; do anything but hurt Muslims the religion of 100% of the culprits of 9-11

So 36 years later we are still a nation with meaning or unity of purpose.

We still have no true identity and nothing to bring us together longer than maybe a couple weeks (which was as long as post 9-11 unity lasted)
We're a nation of splintered groups; of 315 million+ selfish, self-centered people that will knock each other over if a nickel was spotted on the ground..

We're a nation the forces diversity and tolerance upon others yet those same zealots can not tolerate true diversity of opinion when their PC beliefs are challenged

We're a nation that wants to revise the past, forget the present and over-emphasize the importance of 'tomorrow'

And we don't want our elected leaders to 'keep it real' with us..
We rather just stay continually entertained and distracted with gadgets n' gizmos; we don't really want to know of evil ISIS, rotten Iran or any other threat to our general safety and well being..

And the fragility of global finance and its potential impact on our economy?   'Ekk.. Like how boring.. Gag me with a spoon!  Fer sure..'

So that is what has changed most in 36 years:  access to credit cards and Presidents learning honesty is Never the best policy..