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One chilly night, the president lowered the White House thermostat, put on a cardigan, and gave the American people a stern talking-to. We enjoyed too much abundance for too long and it was time to pay for our profligacy.
“The oil and natural gas that we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are simply running out,” Jimmy Carter said in 1977. “We could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.” The only way to prevent catastrophe was “strict conservation” and a willingness to “make sacrifices.”
Carter relentlessly preached his new austerity gospel to American citizens. We must repent of our excess and deny ourselves the pleasures of a functional economy. Every head bowed, every eye closed, it’s altar-call time.
I’m sure that each of you will find something you don’t like about the specifics of our proposal. It will demand that we make sacrifices and changes in every life. To some degree, the sacrifices will be painful–but so is any meaningful sacrifice. It will lead to some higher costs and to some greater inconvenience for everyone. But the sacrifices can be gradual, realistic, and they are necessary.
America has had a puritanical streak since our founding but it remains an outlier. The former Sunday school teacher promised pain, inconvenience, and higher costs. The next time he faced the voters, they tossed him out on his tin ear.
Bizarrely, Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are offering a classic ’70s rerun. Instead of talking up the country, they’re again talking down to America.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain agreed that “most of the economic problems we’re facing (inflation, supply chains, etc.) are high-class problems.”
A senior White House official warned it might be emptier under this year’s Christmas tree because “there will be things that people can’t get.” Press Secretary Jen Psaki concurred: “We are not the Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx. We cannot guarantee” people will get their presents.
Interrupting his third month of paternity leave, DOT head Pete Buttigieg promised supply-chain issues will continue into next year and that’s a good thing. “Demand is up because income is up, because the president has successfully guided this economy out of the teeth of a terrifying recession.” Later that day, the DC Metro shut down 60 percent of its rail cars. (Hopefully, the Secretary of Transportation got back to his postpartum self-care.)
Dutifully backing the administration’s play, the mainstream media keeps promoting the bright side of empty shelves:
“Don’t rant about short-staffed stores and supply chain woes. Try to lower expectations.” — Washington Post
“America is running out of everything because Americans are buying so much stuff.” — Business Insider
“You can either shop early, expect to pay more, or just embrace scarcity.” — Bloomberg
I admire monastics choosing lives of ascetic struggle but doubt voters will reward politicians who mandate we join them. Heading to a cave to find God is one thing; eating lab-grown meat to boost Joe Biden’s polls isn’t the path to enlightenment. Even the most austere Americans prefer a politics of abundance to a politics of scarcity.Published in