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Chapter 30 - The Overextended Society

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Stagflation
- Rising prices, more unemployment and low economic growth = stagflation
- 1975 - Unemployment reached nearly 9 percent - highest since Depression
- US fell behind W. Europe and Japan, Americans felt that these trends would continue
 
The Oil Crisis
- Oct 1973 - Gas prices nearly doubled
- US used about 70% of all the oil in the world, by 1973 1/3 of total oil was imported
- Arab nations became increasingly hostile towards the US after the Six-Day war
- Oct 17 - OPEC launches an embargo on oil shipments to Israel’s allies - US, Japan, etc
- Many Americans blamed Arabs and accused the government of lying to raise prices
- Worst downturn since the Depression
 
The Bill Comes Due
- Nixon responded to the embargo by appointing an “energy czar” 
- 1977 - Dept of Energy created
- Many conservation measures imposed to reduce the use of energy
- Conservation measures resulted in a 23% reduction of highway deaths
- As a result of the embargo, prices in general rose dramatically
 
Falling Productivity
- Oil embargo hit home so hard because US economy was not as efficient as overseas
- Unable to produce many goods at low cost
- Foreign markets offered better alternatives to US production
- American companies turned to foreign countries for cheap labour
- Many factories became highly automated
- American employers did not buy into the Japanese idea of providing rewards for quality
- Farmers could not capitalize on overseas shortages in grain - needed oil for their tools
 
Blue-Collar Blues
- 1970s - National Labor Relations Board began ruling in favour of managements
- Congress routinely denied labor-backed movements in Congress
- Public employees such as teachers made some gains during this period
- Although many women joined the workforce, many were in low paying clerical jobs
- Many organizations pushed for antidiscrimination and more opportunities for women
 
Sunbelt/Snowbelt
- 1970s - Snowbelt slumped, Sunbelt prospered and grew
- Due to a huge influx of immigrants, the Sunbelt grew in population
- Many blacks began migrating back to southern cities that used to be segregated
- Certain areas became extremely focused on producing single products
- Certain valleys produced strawberries, lima beans, or artichokes
- Silicon Valley became known for computer producing
- The Sunbelt’s ecomonic assets were very unevenly distributed
- Philadelphia lost many jobs and crime rates soared
 
“Lean Years” Presidents
- Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter oversaw the time when the economy was in distress
- Voters became disillusioned with the government - thought they didn’t care about them
 
“I’m a Ford, not a Lincoln”
- Although Ford promised that the “national nightmare” (Nixon) was over, he soon after pardoned Nixon for all the crimes he may have committed - many suspected a deal
- Ford wanted to cut govt spending, maintain interest rates, and slowly build up economy
- Ford vetoed more major bills than any modern president, but Congress overrode most
- Many times, Ford would mix up words or muddle his thoughts - seen as rather simple
- Betty Ford became admired by many Americans - very open and had modern ideas
 
The 1976 Election
- Ford’s only competition for the Republican ticket was Ronald Reagan
- Ford was nominated because Reagan was seen as too conservative
- Chose Bob Dole (Kansas) as his running mate
- Jimmy Carter depicted himself as an unfamiliar outsider - acted like a country bumpkin
- Told Americans “I will never lie to you”
- Americans remembered Watergate all too well, and chose to go with a Democrat
- Senator Walter Mondale became Vice President
- 46.7 percent of eligible voters did not vote
 
The Carter Presidency
- Carter was very hesitant and undecisive, and shifted more and more towards the right
- Took very little initiative to boost the economy and make radical changes
- Media exposés helped reveal rampant govt spending and to portray Carter as uncaring
- Like Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter tried to get involved, but many felt she did too much
 
The New Poverty
- Although many of the income separations between blacks and whites declined in the 60s, these positive trends reversed during the 70s
 
A Two-tired Society
- In the 70s, Americans as a whole were healthier than ever before
- The rich were becoming richer, and the poor were becoming poorer
- More than 10% of the population lived in poverty
- Far more minority groups were impoverished than whites
- Although the govt introduced affirmative action, there was a growing split in incomes
- School Busing - Govt forced kids to bus to school to achieve racial equality
- Racism dwindled because of a white push to the suburbs
- Inner cities were left to minorities - 1980 - 50% of black teenagers drop out
- 1978 - US Court ruling stated that affirmative action could only be used when it could be proved that a “legacy of unequal treatment” had occurred
 
The Feminization of Poverty
- Although more and more women entered the work force, their wages declined
- Divorce settlements highly favoured men - womens’ living standard declined by 73%
- Single mothers had an extremely hard time not being impoverished
- National Welfare Rights Organization aided many single, poor women
 
“The Underclass”
- “The Underclass” became a metaphor for the deteriorating conditions in urban America
- “Blacks were no closer to catching up with whites than they were before”
- Black families tended to be matriarchial
- Indian people remained the poorest of anyone
- Federal govt did little to help the Indians integrate
 
Communities and Grass-Roots Policies
- As people had children, they became more involved in their communities
- Mass demonstrations in the 60s led to localized protests in the 70s
 
The New Urban Politics
- Many college towns became politically active
- African American candidates began to reach political positions
- Black-led communities focused more on education and social services
- Other minorities did not advance as quickly
- Angry whites cried out against affirmative action, or “reverse discrimination”
 
The City and the Neighbourhood
- City dwellers supported public institutions such as art galleries, hospitals, etc
- Community Development Act (1974) - mayors could control of cities’ spending
- Many other organizations formed to work for other beneficial programs in cities
- CDC’s - Community Development Corporations
- 1979 - Carter’s National Commission on Neighbourhoods 
- Made 200 recommendations on how to better develop communities
- Even when old neighbourhoods were restored, they were quickly bought up by middle-class people trying to look rustic
 
The Endangered Environment
- After birth defects and miscarriages started happening, people began to see how terrible the environment was becoming
- Love Canal, NY - Town was built on toxic waste ground
- Much of the environmental awareness came from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (‘62)
- 1970 - April 22nd chosen as Earth Day
- Recycling became popular, and cities began to reduce their excesses
- Groups such as Greenpeace sponsored direct action to preserve the environment
- 1970 - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formed as a regulatory agency
- Although Congress passed various clean air acts, cities found loopholes to avoid them
 
Small-town America
- Various problems with city life led to a mass exodus to the suburbs
- Americans wanted to live in a small town that was still within easy reach of cities
- Called “exurbia” - isolated but still within range of civilization
- Many small-town areas did not prosper during the 70s
- “Snowball effect” led to rundown schools and inadequate medical care
 
The New Conservatism
- Many taxpayers resented having to pay for programs that did not aid them 
- Angry whites grouped together, especially in poor urban areas, to protest minorities
 
The New Right
- Lower-class white voters felt alienated by the defeat in Vietnam and the increasing regulations by the federal government
- The “New Right” identified themselves by defending “family values” 
- Wanted to influence legislation and thereby gain power
- Most shocking element was the paramilitary wing:
- Radicals armed themselves and trained for combat
- Many Americans became evangelical Christians 
- 40% of all Americans reported that they were “born again”
- Protested against abortion, the ERA, gay rights, and the busing of schoolchildren
- Televangelism became hugely popular, and reached large audiences
- Jesse Helms - First politician to appeal directly to the New Right as voters
- Previously had defended the Klan
 
Anti-ERA, Antiabortion
- The New Right was intent on defeating the Equal Rights Amendment
- Wanted to restore traditional family values “destroyed” by the women’s lib movt
- Phyllis Schlafly led the STOP ERA campaign
- The New Right had many wealthy supporters, and their campaigns were overwhelming
- Although 35 states ratified the amendment, it remained 3 votes short of passage
- Finally died in 1982
- 1973 - Roe v. Wade - Essentially legalized abortion on demand
- Many groups organized protests and pushed for the “right to life”
 
“The Me Decade”
- 1976 - “The Me Decade” phrase coined by novelist Tom Wolfe
- After the political turmoil of the 60s, Americans returned to personal focuses
- Erhard Seminars Training (EST) - blended psychology and mysticism
- Taught Americans to imagine themselves successful and satisfied 
- For many Americans, therapy gave the security that religion used to provide
- “Transcendal Meditation” found many advocates among successful professionals
- Many religious cults gained ground during this time as well
- In music, heavy metal and punk became popular among young white men
 
Adjusting to a New World
- April 1975 - N. Vietnamese capture Saigon, renaming it Ho Chi Minh City
- Vietnamese defeat French and Americans, and Vietnam becomes communist
- Government agrees that there will be “no more Vietnams”
 
A Thaw in the Cold War
- Defeat in Vietnam forced a retooling of foreign policy
- Maintaining a war was becoming more and more costly each year
- American productivity levels dropped and more kids left high school early
- After a meeting in Helsinki in 1975, Western leaders saw that the Soviets were no threat
- SALT I - Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty - negotiated by Nixon
- SALT II - negotiated in Vladivostok in 1974 by Ford and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev
- 1979 - Final Agreement secured by Carter in 1979
- Treaty never confirmed by Senate due to the Soviets’ invasion of Afghanistan
 
Foreign Policy and “Moral Principles”
- Each of Carter’s decisions confronted long-held diplomatic policies
- Carter originally wanted to stand for morality, decency, generosity, and human rights
- For the first time, activists spoke out against Apartheid in S. Africa
- Although Carter originally wanted to limit the power of the CIA, this soon failed
- Carter helped to switch the control of the Panama Canal to the Panamanians
 
The Camp David Accords
- American interests in the Middle East had traditionally balanced their support of Israel with their desire to obtain Arab oil
- Early in his presidency, Carter met privately with Israel PM Menachem Begin
- Wanted to negotiate peace with Egypt
- 1978 - Carter brought Begin and Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat to Camp David for a three-day retreat to plan negotiations between the two countries
- Ended up lasting 13 days, brought about unprecedented agreements
- Sept 1978 - Egypt acknowledged Israel’s right to exist and regained Sinai Peninsula
- In 1979 both Begin and Sadat won the Nobel Prize for Peace
- Begin refused to negotiate a settlement with Palestine
- Carter’s immense support for the Palestinians lost him support among Jews
 
Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence”
- 1979 - Carter gathered his staff at Camp David to reassess the problems facing the US
- After the retreat, Carter urged Americans to show more faith in their leaders
- Became known as Carter’s “malaise speech”
- Ended up backfiring, with his popularity dropping to 26%
- If Carter moved towards peace in the Middle East or made a lasting arms bargain with the Soviets, he might have been able to win a second term in office
 
(Mis)Handling the Unexpected
- As Carter’s term came to a close, several crises erupted in foreign affairs
- Carter’s aides gave him conflicting advice on how to handle the situations
- After Congress denied $75 million for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, they allied with Cuba and the Soviets
- Carter continued to support an oppressive regime in El Salvador
- Andrew Young - First Black diplomat to Africa - helped resume relations with Nigeria
- Young was fired for meeting with the PLO in secret - Carter had even less success
- Soviet attack of Afghanistan called the “Soviet Vietnam” by the American press
- The Carter Doctrine: (add-on to the Monroe Doctrine)
- Stated that the US would protect its interests in the Persian Gulf
- Carter asked athletes to boycott the Olympics in Moscow, and prepared for another war
- Any prospect of a detenté or peace which would end the war was over
 
The Iran Hostage Crisis
- Nov 4, 1979 - Iranian fuldamentalists seize a US embassy in Tehran
- Hold 52 employees hostage for the next 444 days
- US foreign policy in the Middle East had depended on a friendly govt in Iran for years
- US attempted a rescue mission, but this failed when the helicopter crashed
- US had no other options but to negotiate
- Sec. of State Cyrus Vance resigned, and Carter violated his own human rights policy
- Supported the Shah, who’s human rights record was terrible
 
The 1980 Election
- Even at the start of the campaign, Carter was seen in the worst possible light
- Democrats unenthusiastically supported Carter and his running mate, Walter Mondale
- Republicans nominated Ronald Reagan and George Bush
- Republicans asked voters “are you better off now than you were four years ago?”
- Eventually cruised to victory
 
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