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.