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Everyone Excels at Something

Check out this letter in today’s Wall Street Journal by Professor Ethan Burger.  It’s quite an achievement, for it identifies a standard of governance by which the ranks of today’s most accomplished leaders include Kim Il Sung, Robert Mugabe, and Fidel Castro.

Your Aug. 19 editorial "China Does Carternomics" used China’s energy situation as a new opportunity to bash President Carter’s energy policy 25 years after the fact. The 1979-80 energy "crisis" was principally the result of a combination of high U.S. energy consumption and uncertainties in oil markets caused by the Iranian "revolution." The Carter administration’s decision to ration gasoline sales had the positive effect of educating the American public on the need to develop a national energy policy that would reduce our dependence on imported oil and strengthen our balance of payment situation.

While the execution of this policy could have been better, the Carter administration should be credited with having the foresight to encourage energy conservation and establish the Energy Security Corporation to develop alternative energy sources. One of Ronald Reagan’s first acts as president was to eliminate the Energy Security Corporation — a costly decision. Since President Carter, American presidents have refused to ask the American people to make sacrifices for the common good. His biggest mistake during his presidency may have been to have been honest with the American people.

Ethan S. Burger
School of International Service
Adjunct Associate Professor
Washington College of Law
American University