Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When history repeats itself

Fred here...

When I was a student, I remember a history professor giving our class a very educational project. Our assignment was to write a paper detailing local and national events on the day, month, year, and decade in which we were born.

Looking back at the paper, it’s ironic how similar those times were to the times in which we’re living right now.

The 1970’s was a difficult decade. Notably, it was a time when people had very little confidence in government following Watergate.

Toward the end of the decade, things were particularly bad. I recall several things from the history paper that stand out in my mind. In terms of foreign affairs, the world was a mess, particularly in the Middle East. The focus then was on Iran, the hostage crisis, and Desert One. Events in that corner of the planet were having a ripple effect worldwide, causing gas prices to skyrocket as supplies dwindled. Unemployment crept upwards. People waited in long lines to get gas, if there was any to be had. They also started to insulate and put storm windows and weather stripping on their houses to keep heating costs low. And, during the summer, there was a resurgence of a “Victory Garden” practice started during World War II, where average people planted gardens in their backyards to grow food.

Fast forward to today. Public confidence in government is abysmal. Iran continues to be a menace, this time as it vies to become a nuclear power. Gas prices are at historically-high prices, choking many consumers and having profound effects on the economy. Unemployment is high. And, in recent months, the government has heralded two important policy initiatives: tax credits for people to weatherize their homes, and the First Lady’s initiative for people to grow their own food.

Interesting. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

There is reason for hope. The turmoil of the 1970’s led to the incredible progress of the 1980’s and the 1990’s. If there had never been a Jimmy Carter, there never would have been a Reagan Revolution, and a moderate Democrat like Bill Clinton would have had more trouble getting elected.

Will the same sort of thing happen this time around? We sincerely hope so.