Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Bette Midler’s album Songs for the New Depression was released in January 1975. Typical of its glum times was the sour humor of “Mr. Rockefeller”, about a delusional woman trying to reach the billionaire from her perch in a phone booth. Nobody’s idea of a great song, but it has a sting of truth; she’s been wiped out by the recession, says she’s broken down, not feeling so good, and is hanging on the line because she’s finally down to her last dime. For millions of people, the album’s provocative title was the bitter truth: The biggest, baddest recession since World War II left the country reeling. Few saw it coming. Inflation was out of control. Confidence in the future plunged lower than it had ever gone, even in the depths of the Great Depression. After postwar decades of so much mass prosperity that many of our “leading thinkers” had just about grown ashamed of it, the Great Invisible Guiding Hand of Capitalism gave America a merciless slap upside the head. And man, it hurt.
Only the year before, the leadership of the country united to dump the most hated Republican of his day, someone who had won great political victories only a few years before. The new president was widely derided as an ineffectual buffoon. His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude. Our luck overseas was no better. America’s seemingly endless war finally came to an end on his watch, the way we’d always dreaded it would: disastrously, humiliatingly. Images of US foreign policy failure filled every television screen in the electrified world.