Associated Milk Producers and the Nixon Campaign
“The Associated Milk Producers began giving money to the Nixon campaign, met in the White House with Nixon and the Secretary of Agriculture, gave more money, and the secretary announced that “new analysis” made it necessary to raise milk price supports.” (Zinn)
The 1970’s is truly about the loss of faith and trust in the government and is about the idea of stagflation. This quote taken from Zinn reflects just that. Stagflation is about higher rates of inflation with less available jobs. When it comes to inflation, not just anything is inflated. From an economics standpoint I can see why the Associated Milk Producers gave money to Nixon and I see why Nixon took it. Milk is a product that leans more toward inelasticity because there aren’t really any substitutes. This means that it isn’t price sensitive for customers. Thus they inflate it. As a result “the price increases added $500 million to the profits of dairy farmers (mostly big corporations) at the expense of consumers” (Zinn). This is a perfect example of why there was a lack of trust in the government. The government knows that their aren’t as many jobs which means that not everyone will have money to spend and buy specific products. Yet they inflate prices on inelastic products like milk. Why? Because they act toward their best interests and not in the interest of the people. To make matters worse, this was never brought up in “impeachment charges and never televised in the Senate hearings- possible collusion? Thus, the people had no trust… and no milk…
During the 70’s inflation was a main proving factor that the country was having a hard time solving the problem of the nation. It was no longer just the middle and lower class that was concerned. The severity of the economy was so intense that even those who were usually perfectly comfortable and economically stable were beginning to grow worrisome. Zinn included this in the chapter because it really shows the significance of the governments inability to solve such a detrimental problem. This was an additional reason for the public to no longer trust in the government what-so-ever. There was no longer any faith left in the government.
The number of Americans feeling “alienated” and “disaffected” with the general state of the country climbed (from 29 percent in 1966) to over 50 percent. After Ford succeeded Nixon, the percentage of “alienated” was 55 percent. The survey showed that people were troubled most of all by inflation.
The instability of the world economy intensifies since 1973. As the world’s largest economies, the United States was gradually losing its advantage in the world economic hegemony. The significant price rising phenomenon appeared in the U.S., and inflation and unemployment rate were simultaneously growing. The stagflation crisis of 1973-1975 is the most typical one in the history. In the early Nixon administration, the U.S. government did not consider domestic economic policy as the key areas that governance should focus on. They think Inflation is a problem, but not the most worrying problem compares to others, nor the area to use the expense of other issues. In fact, unemployment hurts people a lot more seriously than inflation. The increasing of unemployment rate from 5.6% in 1974 to 8.3% in 1975 reflects the unemployed is more painful than the general view of rising prices. People are disaffected by this economic crisis; their standard of living were very low at that period of time.
Furthermore, energy crisis in 1973 the energy crisis made the situation out of control. The oil crisis happens so quick which are very rare; it hits the U.S. economy unusually heavy. According to Howard Zinn, Oil company economists discussed holding back production of oil to keep prices up. ARAMCO—the Arabian- American Oil Corporation, 75 percent of whose stock was held by American oil companies and 25 percent by Saudi Arabia—had made $1 profit on a barrel of oil in 1973. In 1974 it was making $4.50. Because of this, the inflation and unemployment are out of control. The number of unemployed people in the United States had reached the highest point since the Great Depression. After 1973, the price increase trend became steeper than before; food, fuel and medical care increase the price most dramatically. It seems the inflation will become more volatile, even more difficult to predict. I think Howard Zinn mention this to tell us why people are not satisfied with the economic situation during 1970s, and why people’s optimism for the future had changed significantly.
They gave information in judicial proceedings, to a Senate investigating committee, to the press. They implicated not only John Mitchell, but Robert Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s highest White House aides, and finally Richard Nixon himself-in not only the Watergate burglaries, but a whole series of illegal actions against political opponents and antiwar activists. Nixon and his aides lied again and again as they tried to cover up their involvement.
A grand jury in September indicted the Watergate burglars along with Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy after the Watergate Scandal. They eventually released information on John Mitchell, Robert Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s highest White House aides, and finally Nixon. After the trial, it was disclosed that Nixon planned to give them leniency and up to a million dollars to keep them quiet. It was an unanticipated fall from presidency and the public had lost trust and confidence in the government. What was once a 60% favor for Nixon in 1972, now in 1973 led to Nixon’s impeachment and resignation in 1974. “Right now, 90% of Wall Street would cheer if Nixon resigns,” said a vice- president of Merrill Lynch Government Securities. This is significant because it shows the decrease in consumer satisfaction of many sectors, not simply the working class but also white collar workers. He was once revered and respected, but not his credibility dwindled as he had lied about his connection the burglars.
Richard Nixon was the president of the United States throughout the early 1970’s and made a huge impact on the trust factor between the public and the government. Through investigation he was found to be in several situations involving corruption, greatly increasing the public mistrust in government. “On top of this came the political disgrace of the Nixon administration in the scandals that came to be known by the one-word label ‘Watergate,’ and which led to historic resignation from the presidency-the first in American history-of Richard Nixon in August 1974” (507). This quote basically gave an overview of both Nixon’s character and work ethic. Throughout his scandals he clearly demonstrated he had no regard for the level of respect between the people and the federal government nor did he care what impact his actions had on the country as a whole. Zinn mentions Nixon to demonstrate the level of confusion and mayhem within the country at this time, showing how even the leader of the country was one to not be trusted.
”The elimination of Mr. Richard Nixon leaves intact all the mechanisms and all the false values which permitted the Watergate scandal”(545)
Nothing was being changed they weren’t fixing anything. Nixon would be pardoned but the foreign policies stayed and the power president to do what he wanted would stay. The system was being kept the same. By removing Nixon faith was suppose to be brought back to the government and everybody was suppose to trust the government and believe they did what did because it was best for you. Ford’s goal was to get the people back to the point where they weren’t questioning what the government was doing and just had full trust in its government. Ford kept Nixon’s policy of aid to the Saigon regime, which led to the Fall of Saigon. After that crushing defeat, the faith in the government was only worsened.
The U.S need to get its reputation back up. It seemed like military force is the only way to do this. American cargo ship, The Mayaguez, was sailing by Cambodia. The ship was stopped and the crew was brought back to mainland. In an effort to show to show that the U.S was still powerful Ford demanded their release, however the messages wasn’t received. The crew was released 3 days later. Ford with this knowledge still issued a marine attack of Tang Island. In the attack 41 American solders were lost . With everyone questioning Ford decision, the answer soon came out. ”It was necessary to show the world that giant America, defeated by tiny Vietnam, was still powerful and resolute”(552). The determination to get U.S reputation back as powerful was there, even if it meant AMerican solders would have to go down.
“The underlying causes of the gross misconduct in our law–enforcement system now being revealed are largely personal, not institutional. Some structural changes are needed. All the rotten apples should be thrown out. But save the barrel.” –Theodore Sorensen
Prior to Watergate scandal, everyone in America believed that politicians truly have the people’s best interest in mind. There was never any questions as to why politicians do what they do, or how they do it. Basically everyone trusted the government. However, after Watergate, Americans began to realize that politicians can be corrupt. This realization leads to people did not believe their public officials and the public want to know more of what politicians are doing “behind the closed doors.” However, even thought Nixon destroyed people’s trust of government, but he was still great in some way.
The quote in the beginning of this blog was written at the time of Watergate by Theodore Sorensen. He was best known as president Kennedy’ special counsel, adviser, and legendary speechwriter. He believes authorities should keep the positive attributes of Nixon, while removing the negatives (scandal). Indeed, Nixon did a remarkable contribution on American foreign policy. For example, Nixon opened relations with China in 1972 and he also traveled to Moscow to sign the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty which is used to reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons and froze deployment of intercontinental missiles. Thus, Zinn includes this quote disclose that a good system can be maintain not matter who build it.
“Is the government run by a few big interests looking out for themselves?” The answer in 1964 had been “yes” from 26 percent of those polled; by 1972 the answer was ” yes” from 53 percent of those polled.
During nineteen seventy’s, there was divergence between American government and society. Most people distrust the government especially over half of the lower class people lost their faith of government. People were dissatisfied of what government did to their selves but not citizens. Over half of people think government would more likely care about themselves. And yes. One of the main reasons of this faithful from people was Vietnam War. It was 55,000 injuries and deaths during of this war. Not only that, antiwar people found out that Honeywell Corporation was manufacturing weapons such as “deadly cluster bomb that had riddled thousands of Vietnamese civilians with painful, hard to extricate pellets (541).” According to the voted from Honeywell employees, over three quarters people think that producing those weapon were a miscreancy thing. They felt bad and think those manufacture should stop. Another main scandal of American history made people lose their trust of American government was Watergate. President Nixon tried to cover that ugly new by pass the buck to others. He said that he didn’t indicate anyone to protest the bombing of Cambodia. However, this could not hold. President Nixon resigned. Zinn use those quotes and facts that showed how seventies under control.
If one goes to college, works hard, and saves enough money, a secure lifestyle is almost guaranteed right? Not in the seventies it isn’t (well, not today either). The seventies in the United States was a time where a profound sense of uneasiness consumed the psyche of most Americans. On an economic level, the seventies becomes a time where the golden age of capitalism that took place in sixties falls completely apart in return for a trade deficit and a period of stagflation. This economic unrest created a sense of panic in families that had previously been doing well. In 1975 the Times reported,
“Inflation, the apparent inability of the country to solve its economic problems, and a foreboding that the energy crisis will mean a permanent step backward for the nation’s standard of living have made inroads into Americans’ confidence, expectations, and aspirations… .
There is also concern that… no longer will hard work and a conscientious effort to save money bring them a nice home in the suburbs” ( Zinn, 557).
Americans not only found everything they once knew unraveling on an economic level but on a political level with president Nixon and the Watergate Scandal and cultural level with the various liberation movements occurring as well as identity politics as well. This was devastating. Zinn states “perhaps much of the general dissatisfaction was due to the economic state of most Americans (557). I completely agree, as families not only had to worry about their country but also if they would have a place to go home too as well.
The 1970s were a turbulent period in the relationship between the American government and the people. The President that they so relied on and trusted was found out to be covering up for a break-in into Democratic headquarters that was executed by his re-election team. This event became known as the Watergate Scandal as it took place in the Watergate building. The chaos and distrust that resulted made for a tough time for the everyday American person.
The government was not the only thing creating waves of distrust in society. When the happenings in Watergate were exposed, the CIA and FBI were put in a bad light. Which created “a need to satisfy a disillusioned public that the system was criticizing and correcting itself” (554). The government worked fast to reassure the people that the clearly flawed system was on it’s way to fixing itself. To do this, investigations of the CIA and the FBI were initiated.
With these investigations, it was discovered that the CIA and FBI were keeping quite a few, alarming secrets of their own. “The investigation of the FBI disclosed many years of illegal actions to disrupt and destroy radical groups and left-wing groups of all kinds” (554-555). But even when all of this new, valuable information came out, the government was very careful to limit the amount of media coverage it would receive. The suspicion and cynicism that is represented in characters like Travis in Taxi Driver is a reflection of the hidden instability in American society at the time that can be seen with events like the investigation of agencies like the CIA and FBI and the further omission of information from these inquires.