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Old 2008-06-24, 00:40   #1
cheesehead
 
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"Richard B. Woods"
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Default Public Misconceptions about President Jimmy Carter

History has many valuable lessons for us, but only if that history is factually accurate.

There has been a successful effort by certain folks to distort (a) what happened during the Jimmy Carter presidential administration and (b) how much credit Ronald Reagan deserves for the results of actions taken by Carter. These folks, assisted by the inherent complexity of some issues, have wildly succeeded in convincing most American people that Jimmy Carter did some things he didn't actually do, and that he failed to do some things that he actually did accomplish.

I want this thread to discuss those distortions and set forth factually-accurate accounts of President Jimmy Carter's actions that have been widely misconstrued, distorted, misunderstood, or unknown. I do not want discussion of any of Jimmy Carter's actions since he left office in January 1981. Discussing the post-1980 consequences of actions President Carter took during his term of office is on-topic.

I'll start off by copying some postings I've made in other forums and in other threads of this forum. Also, I've invited moderators to move certain postings from another thread to this one.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2008-06-24 at 01:32
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Old 2008-06-24, 00:49   #2
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Last year, I wrote in a different forum:

Quote:
Originally Posted by http://agm2m.org/index.php?topic=4876.60
After Johnson, Nixon, and Ford had failed to tame inflation, Carter, after his first couple of years, succeeded in applying the cure by appointing Paul Volcker to be chair of the Federal Reserve so that he could switch the Fed's anti-inflation policy from money-supply control to interest-rate control. (Before then, one didn't routinely hear that the Fed was raising interest rates in order to fight inflation, because they didn't. Now, that tactic's been so common and successful that many people have forgotten, or never knew, that it wasn't always that way.)

(Even most of my Boomer cohorts never paid attention to that sort of thing when they were young adults. I recall one dinner conversation in early 1980 where someone asked what might be a good investment, in light of high inflation, high rates, etc. I spoke up to recommend municipal bonds, which should show nice capital gains once inflation broke and interest rates fell. No one else at the table understood what I meant ... and it was a Mensa group!)

Of course, if you know much about national economics, you know that it would take quite a while for that new policy to show success -- it did. There's a multi-year time lag in such things, especially those like inflation that already had a decade of acceleration. This allowed the majority of Americans who are poorly educated in economics to be fooled by accusations from even those who knew better that Reagan was the one who (magically) stopped inflation, and that the high interest rates at end of Carter's term were an evil brought about (somehow) by Carter's incompetence instead of being a necessary phase through which we had to pass while the new Fed interest-rate policy put the brakes on inflation.

The necessarily painful rise of interest rates above inflation rates before inflation started subsiding was entirely forseeable. It took guts for a president to start that process, and may be why Carter's predecessors didn't try it, nor did Reagan admit it.

[Note: My following comments about what I've seen others say or not say are referring to my ~ 15 years of this topic in discussion and forums, almost all of which were prior to my joining agm2m.org.]


I notice that those criticizing Carter for high inflation and crediting Reagan for lowering inflation never actually explain how those critiques are justified -- they wave hands about Reagan's cutting Federal spending while ignoring that Reagan actually increased the rate of increase of federal spending and enormously increased the size of national deficits and national debt. Carter bequeathed Reagan with a national debt of ~$1 trillion. Reagan and Bush the Elder more than tripled that in 12 years. I never see Repubs who sneer at Carter for high interest rates admit that those were necessary near-term consequences of the Fed's then-new (and since-proven-successful) anti-inflation policy.

There had arisen, by the mid-1970s a widespread inflation psychology (I had it, too) that if you could borrow money at, say 9%, to buy something, when inflation was running ar 10%, you could count on paying back the loan with cheaper-enough dollars in the future to make that a desirable policy (rather than saving until you accumulated funds to make the purchase). Borrow-borrow-borrow was the lesson we were all being taught. How do you stop that psychology, which keeps making inflation worse?

You have to raise interest rates high enough to make it hurt to follow that path. You have to break the mad borrow-borrow-borrow fever by making it more-and-more expensive to finance purchases by loans, so that all the borrowers who can't justify borrowing except as an inflation-beater stop doing so. Yes, this hurts the borrowers who really need to borrow, too, but inflation was already hurting everyone. Sometimes a responsible action hurts in the short run as it stops an irresponsible action.

All that is taken for granted by most folks now, but it was Carter who changed things.

Let's have some knowledgable fairness and credit for Carter.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2008-06-24 at 01:03
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Old 2008-06-24, 01:11   #3
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Yesterday, I wrote in the "The 'REAL' reason for the recent rise in U.S. gasoline prices" thread:


Quote:
Originally Posted by http://www.mersenneforum.org/showpost.php?p=136414&postcount=110
Cautionary note to all:

At many places referring to the history of the 1970s, Presidents Nixon through Carter, the oil crisis, and/or wage and price contols, you may see statements along the lines of 'Jimmy Carter imposed energy price controls'. This is the result of a very successful conservative misinformation campaign maligning President Carter, not historical fact!

This lie has even made its way into the Wikipedia article on the 1979 energy crisis at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979_energy_crisis, in which the following false statement appears (it's there now, but may have been corrected by the time you follow the link): 'In the United States, the Carter administration instituted price controls.' (An example of the unreliability of Wikipedia's political-history-related statements.) This lie's influence can be seen at http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/ar...se_on_pri.html, for example, where the writer cites that Wikipedia article as (erroneously) supporting his claim about Carter:

Quote:
Two of the comments questioned my assertion that President Carter introduced price controls on gasoline that produced long lines. I am right, as shown by the following entry from Wikepedia on the 1979 energy crisis: 'In the United States, the Carter administration instituted price controls. ...
Carter did no such thing; he ended wage and price controls in all areas other than oil and gasoline, and began the phaseout of those remaining controls. His plan for that phaseout had them finally disappearing in what would have been his second term if he had been reelected. (Reagan got to celebrate the end of the last vestiges, instead.) However, certain conservatives have been (successfully) intent on distorting this part of history, giving Reagan credit for this and other achievements (e.g., taming inflation) that were actually the result of Carter's actions.

From 'Carter and crude: setting the record straight' at http://www.powermag.com/ExportedSite...rticles/27.htm:


Quote:
[Washington Times conservative columnist Bruce] Bartlett, in a memory lapse shared by many conservatives, blamed Jimmy Carter for imposing energy price controls. That’s an entirely bum rap. Whatever one has to say about Jimmy Carter and energy policy – and there is plenty to come in this article – he didn’t impose oil price controls.
Carter did do some loopy things -- his synfuels program was a bust, for instance. But he certainly wasn't as terrible as many conservatives would like you believe.

(Yes, Carter-slander is one of my hot buttons. I think history has many valuable lessons for us, but only if that history is factually accurate.)
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Old 2008-06-24, 05:03   #4
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Many people say that Carter "gave away" the Panama Canal.
He was in office during the conclusion of negotiations (begun in 1974) of the treaties that turned over the Canal to Panama.
It is an example of de-colonialization, which is often seen as a favorable thing. The US Senate also had to ratify it.
I haven't heard an outcry against those Senators.
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Old 2008-06-24, 13:09   #5
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Jimmy Carter, don't get me started.

I was 15 when he got elected and he was the first US president that I followed from election to resignation. I admit I liked his presentation at that time.

By far the biggest mistake with unbelievable disastrous consequences was dropping support for the Shah in Iran. The Shah had set Iran on a path to modernization with healthy western influences. Opposition to the introduction of new rights for the people by old structures of patronization (mainly clerical origin) was dealt with in a way that was common and optimal for that region. Jimmy dropped support for the Shah without understanding the nation and drove it into the hands of the ayatollahs expecting to improve the lives of the people there. It is a common mistake to think all the world is like ones own backyard, but this time the error in judgment qualifies for 'worst consequences' since the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
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Old 2008-06-25, 07:52   #6
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Sorry tha but the Shah was notorious for imprisoning and torturing his own people through his secret police the SAVAK. Hardly someone who deserved support, not any more than say Pinochet. One could argue that he laid the foundation for the discontent that led to Khomeini gaining control.
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Old 2008-06-25, 09:56   #7
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In my opinion the Shah of Iran received support for much to long from the West, this was because he reppressed left wing politicians and activists and was considered as a rempart to the communist block. When he was finally overthrown, the west preferred the religious right to the left wing and gave them support in their brutal repression and elimination of left wing polititians and activists, then the religious right turned unto their next and more distant enemy : the West.

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Old 2008-06-25, 20:47   #8
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Sure enough, as mentioned previously (emphasis added)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
This lie has even made its way into the Wikipedia article on the 1979 energy crisis at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979_energy_crisis, in which the following false statement appears (it's there now, but may have been corrected by the time you follow the link): "In the United States, the Carter administration instituted price controls."
, our own garo has stepped in (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?...action=history) to remove that falsity from Wikipedia. Way to go, garo!

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2008-06-25 at 21:14
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Old 2008-06-25, 21:08   #9
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Default Misconception corrections on _either_ side, please

Let me clarify the purpose I had for starting this thread, since my thread title was biased.

I want to correct publicly-widespread erroneous statements about Carter's presidential actions, whether the corrections be in his favor or not in his favor. That is, in addition to corrections of public misconceptions that Carter's presidential actions were worse than they actually were, I want corrections to public misconceptions that Carter's presidential actions were better than they actually were. (I think there are fewer in the latter category, but I could be wrong.)

Notice that at one point I wrote, "Carter did do some loopy things -- his synfuels program was a bust, for instance." If someone shows evidence that Carter's synfuels program is widely thought by the general public to have been successful, then it would be appropriate to bring that up as an example of public misperception of a Carter action. (This assumes that my opinion that his synfuels program was a bust is correctly aligned with expert opinion, that is. If, OTOH, the weight of expert opinion is that Carter's synfuels program was a success, then I want citations to that effect to be brought to my attention so that I can correct my own misperception.)

Furthermore, I am about to ask that a moderator change this thread's title to "Correcting Historical Revisionism about the Carter Administration" or something similar.

Note: I am NOT inviting mere contributions of your opinions about the Carter administration. If your subject does not concern a widespread public misconception about the Carter administration (especially if it is not supported or preceded by links to actual examples of such a public misconception), then it is off-topic. Furthermore, referencing a widespread opinion about the Carter administration (e.g., "Carter was responsible for Americans' long gas lines") is not sufficient (even if you think it erroneous) unless it directly involves an erroneous factual statement (e.g., "Carter was responsible for long gas lines because he imposed oil price controls"). In the latter example, the first poster to present that as an example of an erroneous statement should accompany it with a link to a specific occurrence of such a statement's having been made.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2008-06-25 at 21:25
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Old 2008-06-25, 21:56   #10
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Here, I'll help Uncwilly with a few more links about Carter vs. Panama Canal.

From Phyllis Schlafly (http://www.eagleforum.org/psr/1999/j...psrjuly99.html, go to the bottom of the page):

Quote:
The giveaway of our Canal was the most significant action of the Jimmy Carter Presidency.
I don't think Ms. Schlafly was ignorant, but a 1977 Gallup poll (http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.org/do...document11.pdf) found that:

Quote:
The more Americans know about the Panama Canal treaties, the more likely they are to favor Senate ratification of the pact, lending support to President Jimmy Carter's thesis.
Here's a nice list, from the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, of documents concerning the Carter administration's relationship to Panama: http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.org/do...stofdocs.phtml

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2008-06-25 at 22:00
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Old 2008-06-25, 22:14   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garo View Post
Sorry tha but the Shah was notorious for imprisoning and torturing his own people through his secret police the SAVAK. Hardly someone who deserved support, not any more than say Pinochet. One could argue that he laid the foundation for the discontent that led to Khomeini gaining control.
The Middle East is not Europe or North-America. It is a desert and it's history and culture is heavily influenced by lack of resources. Whenever you try to implement a democracy without the safeguards of the old style leadership you loose control and end up further back in time. That is what happened here. The people of Iran really got upset, frightened and ready to revolt when the Shah started to introduce rights for women. That scared the **** out of everyone. Khomeini promised to reverse that. The people of Iran now long back to the days of the Shah. They never imagined all their rights would be revoked.
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