Jimmy Carter on "The Crisis of Confidence" (1979)

In the 1970s, President Carter identified the energy crisis as a clear and present danger to American way of life. In response to OPEC reducing its global oil supply, Carter outlined a conservation plan that included regulating public utilities, installing solar hot water panels on the White House, and requesting that Christmas be celebrated without decorative lights. Here are some words from the July 15, 1979 speech that aimed to shake the nation out of its malaise.
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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. inflation
    a general and progressive increase in prices
    It's clear that the true problems of our Nation are much deeper—deeper than gasoline lines or energy shortages, deeper even than inflation or recession.
  2. recession
    a situation in which the state of the economy declines
    It's clear that the true problems of our Nation are much deeper—deeper than gasoline lines or energy shortages, deeper even than inflation or recession.
  3. disciple
    one who believes and helps spread the doctrine of another
    “Some of your Cabinet members don't seem loyal. There is not enough discipline among your disciples.”
  4. cartel
    a consortium formed to limit commercial competition
    “There will be other cartels and other shortages. American wisdom and courage right now can set a path to follow in the future.”
  5. underlying
    in the nature of something though not readily apparent
    These 10 days confirmed my belief in the decency and the strength and the wisdom of the American people, but it also bore out some of my long-standing concerns about our Nation's underlying problems.
  6. endure
    continue to exist
    They will endure.
  7. proverb
    a condensed but memorable saying embodying an important fact
    The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July.
  8. consumption
    the utilization of economic goods to satisfy needs
    In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption.
  9. mainstream
    the prevailing current of thought
    Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal Government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our Nation's life.
  10. evasive
    deliberately vague or ambiguous
    The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.
  11. unyielding
    stubbornly unwilling to give in
    You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another.
  12. stagnation
    a state of inactivity
    Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift.
  13. charter
    a document creating an institution and specifying its rights
    Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.
  14. fragmentation
    the disintegration of social norms governing behavior
    One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest.
  15. rally
    gather or bring together
    Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally.
  16. toll
    value measured by what must be done to obtain something
    Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous toll on our economy and our people.
  17. vital
    urgently needed; absolutely necessary
    What I have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important.
  18. quota
    a prescribed number
    To ensure that we meet these targets, I will use my Presidential authority to set import quotas.
  19. ambitious
    requiring full use of your abilities or resources
    These quotas will ensure a reduction in imports even below the ambitious levels we set at the recent Tokyo summit.
  20. summit
    a meeting of heads of governments
    These quotas will ensure a reduction in imports even below the ambitious levels we set at the recent Tokyo summit.
  21. alternative
    serving or used in place of another
    To give us energy security, I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our Nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel—from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the Sun.
  22. denomination
    a class of one kind of unit in a system of measures
    The corporation I will issue up to $5 billion in energy bonds, and I especially want them to be in small denominations so that average Americans can invest directly in America's energy security.
  23. mobilize
    make ready for action or use
    Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II, so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war.
  24. determination
    firmness of purpose
    Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II, so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war.
  25. enact
    order by virtue of superior authority; decree
    These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay.
  26. windfall
    a sudden happening that brings good fortune
    These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay.
  27. mandate
    make obligatory
    I'm asking Congress to mandate, to require as a matter of law, that our Nation's utility companies cut their massive use of oil by 50 percent within the next decade and switch to other fuels, especially coal, our most abundant energy source.
  28. critical
    urgently needed; absolutely necessary
    But when this Nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.
  29. refinery
    an industrial plant for purifying a crude substance
    But when this Nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.
  30. rekindle
    arouse again
    It can rekindle our sense of unity, our confidence in the future, and give our Nation and all of us individually a new sense of purpose.
Created on September 9, 2019 (updated September 9, 2019)

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