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Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 439985  
Subject: Re: Jimmy... Date: 3/31/2013 9:49 AM
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Sadly, he was a pretty weak president as he lacked the necessary decisiveness.

I'd have to say this is the popular mythology, and that it is entirely wrong.

Carter's White House is the one that pushed for deregulation of telecommunications (and the dissolution of AT&T) leading to the multiplicity of vendors we have today. At the time, it's worth remembering, Democrats had a large majority in both the House and the Senate, and the push to deregulate was not coming from Congress.

Carter also pushed hard for the deregulation of the airline industry, which he achieved, and the trucking industry (which happened in spite of the Teamsters, who endorsed Reagan in the belief - and according to some, the secret agreement - that he would delay or abrogate any such deregulation.)

Those were not "indecisive moves" by any stretch, given that the easier course would have just been to let things stand as they had through the years of the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Then there was the Hostage rescue which he authorized. Even though it failed (and spectacularly), making the decision to go ahead with it was hardly indecisive, and the failure rests, I think, far more with the military than with Carter. (Side note: the Pentagon did not have the capabilities it would later develop with the Navy Seals and the Delta Force of the Army Special Forces. It was the failure of this mission that goaded them to - at last - leave behind the conventional doctrines which had been used so disastrously in Vietnam or if not "leave behind" at least admit they were not up to counterinsurgency tactics in any meaningful way.)

One might remember that the worst part of the Carter administration involved the history of oil, specifically the oil shocks fomented by OPEC, and which caused the Ford administration to institute oil price controls and an uber complex layer of distribution quotas. In spite of the opposition of most Democrats, Carter's executive branch dismantled that scheme, opting instead for mostly market based solutions to the problem. (He was not pure here, he also advocated an "excess profits tax.")

And, of course, there was inflation. Rampant inflation, galloping higher at every turn, becoming baked in to union contracts, vendor pricing contracts, and into the psyche of the country. It was only with the appointment of Paul Volker to head the Fed, who insisted on raising interest rates to near unconscionable levels (a strategy which Carter agreed with in spite of the political danger to himself) that a grueling recession followed, which had the effect of making people care more about keeping their jobs than getting paid more for their jobs, and which formed the basis for the recovery which followed. Unfortunately for Carter the timing was poor, and the recovery happened on his successor's watch, and Reagan walked away with the lion's share of the credit.

Nobody remembers Ford's feckless and laughable solution: "Whip Inflation Now" buttons, nor Nixon's equally disastrous attempts with wage and price controls (the stories of store clerks going into the aisles at midnight to change prices are legion), and similarly nobody gives credit to Carter for the VERY courageous decisions he made which actually succeeded in tearing down the structural inflation which threatened to destroy the economy and the country.

People laugh at Carter because he wore a sweater and told people to turn their thermostats down at the height of an oil shortage. Winston Churchill did the same thing in 1940 and is lionized as one of the most courageous men of the century. Americans, of course, didn't see OPEC as the same kind of existential threat, and resented being told they should sacrifice in the name of the common good. Things apparently haven't changed, even unto today.
 
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