Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Team Dewey Celebrates a Great Run

Team Dewey is celebrating our 37th anniversary today. No, we’re not really that old. We married young. I think we were 12.

But since that sets our wedding date in the way-way back machine to 1972, we thought it might be fun to reflect on a few interesting things that happened in the first half of that most peculiar decade, vis-à-vis today:

Some amazing technological firsts that were introduced: microprocessors, CAT scans, cell phone batteries, email, pocket calculators. Today you can email your CAT scans via your iPhone to your mother.

Some new businesses formed: FedEx, HBO, and NASDAQ. Apple and Microsoft were just a few years away. Today FedEx operates on a Microsoft system, HBO and Apple have teamed up to offer “Sex in the City” on your iPhone. And NASDAQ is now the sexiest exchange.

Regulators were busy: EPA was formed in 1971. Wasting no time they, banned DDT in 1972 ( no Rachel, it didn’t really destroy bird eggs, but it did allow the proliferation of malaria in the third world. Fist bumps, all around); childproof caps invented (taking aspirin would never be the same); Amtrak formed (I think that worked out well); Title IX passed (girls, we’ve always ruled the world); Center for Science in the Public Interest was founded ( in case you didn’t know that eating a gallon of Hagen Daz was not part of a wellness program).

But on the political front - amazingly -  not that much has changed. The country’s still deeply divided over abortion (Roe v Wade, 1972), and foreign wars (Vietnam v Iraq and Afghanistan). Oil prices are still at the mercy of OPEC and the Middle-East is still a snake pit of Islamic rage seething with hatred of Israel and anyone brave enough to be her ally. The U.S. president is visiting Russia and China and they still dislike us (although they may be even more dangerous in the new era of a kinder, gentler America). The Federal Government is still bailing out failing businesses (Lockheed in ‘71, GM, Chrysler(part deux), AIG, Bear Sterns, etc. in ‘09 ). They also benevolently bailed out the city of New York in the 70’s, this time around maybe it will be Detroit.

And, interestingly, in 1971 Nixon unilaterally ended the US dollar’s gold standard  – due to an excess of printed dollars combined with a negative U.S. trade balance that caused debtor nations to demand fulfillment of America’s “promise to pay” in gold. Ostensibly this was intended to deflate the dollar and ease inflation. It didn’t end well, in case you’re ever inclined to believe economists in the future.

But not to worry. That couldn’t happen again. Because we’re not on any kind of gold standard anymore. Although, maybe Obama could use Nixon’s next trick: wage and price freezes. Hey! The wage czar is already working on the wage part! Can price freezes be far behind? Because Nixon did it to halt inflation and that didn’t work, so maybe it will work for the opposite problem: stagnation. It’s worth a try, no?

And finally way back in the ‘70’s, Jimmy Hoffa went missing. As far as we know, he still is.

So it seems we would have to say we’ve come a long way, just to arrive back where we started. As the  great 20th century philosopher Yogi Berra said: “it’s déjà vu all over again”.
But it’s been a good ride … for us … so far. But beware. Sharp curves ahead.

For another glimpse into the past you might like our post : It Seemed a Good Idea at the Time from the vault.