Consider the plight of the man who long ago came to the conclusion that it was his patriotic duty to cut down on his energy consumption.
He traded in his gas guzzler and bought himself a little 6-cylinder box with which he managed nearly 30 miles to the gallon.
He insulted his house. He spent several thousand dollars adding a solar heating system to take care of all but the worst winter days, and he installed storm windows.
In his neighborhood he was the ant, and all the people who lived nearby were grasshoppers, driving their 12-miles-per-gallon cars and remarking as winter came on: "Too bad I didn't put aside the money for storm windows. Just feel that draft in the front room. Will you turn up the heat a little, honey?"
And what happens now to the "good guy"? Why, of course, he is penalized. His neighbor across the street explains the workmen on his roof and the ladders in the front yard: "Madge and I decided we'd better go ahead and insulate. Makes a terrible mess for a while but with the tax break Congress just passed, I can't afford not to. Besides, the gas company is taking care of the whole thing and we can play it off so slowly we hardly notice it."
And as our "good guy" warms up his 6-cylinder box, the neighbor next door hails him cheerily through the window of a brand-new automobile. "Don't know how I'm going to like driving this small car, but it sure felt good to get a check for $462 just for buying it."
Down the street somebody has just bought storm windows with tax-break money paid by his government in part at the "good guy's" expense.
Why did he have to be "good guy"? Why didn't he wait until the law required all the "bad guys" to become "good guys" and paid them handsomely to make the transformation?
Because that's the way life is. The man who volunteers for the Army because he thinks his country needs him winds up as a private in the infantry, while the man who waits to be drafted becomes a major in the post exchange. The politician (one thinks of Eugene McCarthy) who bravely speaks out in an unpopular cause is forgotten a few years later when the cause has become so popular cause is forgotten a few years later when the cause has become so popular that everybody is writing on it. The author whose works are shunned as "outrageous" lives on to see some younger rival, using similar material and plot, win critical applause for being "thoroughly honest."
I don't think there's anything President Carter can do about it, short of sending a $50 rebate to every person who can prove that, since the Arab Oil embargo, he has done all the things that Carter now wnats everybody to do. Or maybe he could send all the "good guys" a certificate of merit. They deserve something more than the sad reflection suggested by this ancient quatrain:
The rain, it raineth everywhere,
Upon the Just and Unjust fella,
But mostly on the Just because
The Unjust hath the Just's umbrella.