Time Essay: Going Our Own Way

The President was back on the air last week with his favorite sermon: "We simply use too much—and waste too much—energy." Once again, almost wistfully, he beseeched the American people to cut back, conserve. It therefore seems timely to ask an essential question: Is it realistic to expect a society such as the U.S.—democratic, individualistic, competitive, diverse, skeptical, market oriented—to display a sudden show of self-discipline and self-sacrifice in response to the President's plea? Popular reaction so far suggests that the answer is a plain no. After all, the American people until now have treated the energy crisis as though it...

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