Friedman tries — but he’s still an idiot

Thomas Friedman has a habit of making obvious statements in grandiose and portentous tones, only to ruin his credibility by following his astute grasp of the obvious with utterly fatuous and meaningless conclusions, bolstered by totalitarian-themed practical recommendations.  His latest column is a perfect example.

In the first paragraph, Friedman describes a piece of decaying infrastructure — which just happens to be an Amtrak line.  Now, that’s an interesting starting point, because I’ve been under the impression that Amtrak is absolutely and completely incapable of functioning with steady government infusions.  It’s a classic example of a completely ineptly run government program.  That is, despite Friedman’s implication the Amtrak’s problem is the current economy, the problem isn’t the recession at all, it’s Amtrak’s fundamental nature.

In his next paragraph, Friedman, in oracular tones, asks a question from on high:  “If we were a serious country, this is what the midterms would be about: How do we generate the jobs needed to sustain our middle class and pay for new infrastructure?”  Having set up his straw man scenario, Friedman follows immediately with a meaningless, “let’s pretend” conclusion:  “It would require a different kind of politics — one that doesn’t conform to either party’s platform.”

How do I know that this is a meaningless, let’s pretend conclusion?  Because Friedman then proceeds to waffle on, as he inevitably does, about taxing the rich and having the government spend on infrastructure.  (“We will have to raise some taxes to generate revenue, like on energy or maybe a value-added tax, and lower others, on payrolls to stimulate work, and on multinational corporations to get them to bring the trillion dollars they have offshore back to the U.S. for investment” and “we’ll probably need more stimulus to get the economy moving again so people have the confidence to buy and invest.”)  As you read that, just think of Friedman’s personal wealth, and ask yourself what percentage he expects to give to the government, and what percentage he happily concludes you ought to give.

But back to that whole “tax and spend on infrastructure” meme….

Pardon me for my confusion, Mr. Friedman, but wasn’t that what you and Obama promised back in 2008 would happen, so much so that our unemployment would be below 9% and are economy booming?  You know — all those “shovel ready” jobs?  You guys sold the nation on the concept of an infrastructure building binge of the type we saw in the 1930s (Hoover Dam, the Tennessee Valley Authority) or the 1950s (the interstate highway system).  As Obama has admitted, he didn’t know what he was talking about and, as David Brooks confirmed, he knew a long time ago that he was selling a lie.  Not only has our money not been used for infrastructure, it’s been used for boondoggles that make Tammany Hall look like amateur hour at the Ritz.  The jobs numbers aren’t so good either, with even reliable Democrat shill 60 Minutes conceding an unemployment rate in excess of 17%.

Friedman tries to hide his usual socialist cheering by following that useless prescription with vaguely uplifting phrases supporting some basic capitalist principles (“Ultimately, though, good jobs at scale come only when we create more products and services that make people’s lives more healthy, more productive, more secure, more comfortable or more entertained — and then sell them to more people around the world,” a goal that will be achieved with workers inspired to become “artisans”) but his heart’s not in it.  The overall tone of his article makes it manifestly clear that he’s incapable of imagining American people, functioning freely in an open marketplace, having the energy and innovation to create those products and services.  Without Nanny State help, he thinks, we’re doomed.

You know what the tell is for the fact that his column doesn’t mark an admission that his prior beliefs were all wrong but is, instead, the usual melange of lies, fantasy, and totalitarian dreaming?  The last sentence:  “Government’s job is to help inspire, educate, enable and protect that work force. This election should have been about how.”  For a nice book translating Friedman’s touchy-feelie totalitarianism, I highly recommend Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

Have I mentioned that Friedman is an idiot?

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  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Friedman apparently has a fair amount of money. Why doesn’t he do what Louise Jonaitis is doing..
    http://www.evolvingexcellence.com/blog/2010/10/niche-nonsense.html
     
    ..buy some factories, try to run them, and learn something about what “creating jobs” is *really* about and what the real obstacles are?
     

  • Tonestaple

    I tried to read that column this morning but I just couldn’t figure out where he was going.  I’m going to have to try harder in the future because I believe I’m failing to appreciate the astonishing level of stupidity involved.

  • suek

    Re: the infrastructure and “shovel ready” jobs…
     
    Somewhere very early on – like in the first week or so – there was an executive order (I think) that required that any contracts funded with federal money had to be filled by contractors who hired only union employees.  Only approximately 10% of US employees are union members.
     
    Kind of limits the options.

  • Mike Devx

    Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman – talk about your “bitter clingers”!  They will cling to their utterly discredited philosophies until the universe dies its cold death.  Even were God to tell them, “You know, Thomas, Paul… your economics and world views were completely wrong,” they would argue with Him, and depart unconvinced.

    Krugman in particular takes the cake.

  • Mike Devx

    And here’s an excerpt from an article about Obama stumping for Patty Murray in Washington and another candidate.  Obama no longer can be described as President – he lacks the gravitas.  He no longer can be described as Commander in Chief – a Commander in Chief would not be strategizing for our very defeat.  No, Obama these days is merely our Greatest Resident Whiner.

    Mr. Obama is more critical of the opposition now, launching into long, mocking diatribes against Republicans that depart conspicuously from the prevailing unity message of his last campaign. His words are weighted with long stretches of acknowledgment about the difficulties of the last two years.

     
    We do learn, once again, how self-absorbed our president is:
     

    “Sometimes it can wear you down,” the president said Wednesday night, referring to what he called “big, messy democracy” … He hit the same theme in subsequent days. “We are grinding it out,” he said with slight variations in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. “We are doing the hard, frustrating, inch-by-inch, day-by-day, week-by-week work of bringing about change.”

    You have to note how he has been bitterly mocking in attacking Republicans.  If there is even one single mother fricking Republican that decides to WORK WITH this monster even after these vicious, bitterly mocking diatribes against them… not only do such Republicans lack a spine, they lack all sense of self-worth.  You do NOT work with someone who lambastes you with such heart-felt derision.  No.  Instead, as was done with Caesar, you wait for your opportunity… and you stab him in the back (politically that is) and you end his political future UTTERLY. If there is a Republican that wants to work with him, I want that Republican impeached.  I want that Republican hounded and harrassed 24-7 to the point where they can’t even describe which direction is up and which direction is down.
     

  • Danny Lemieux

    I long ago stopped reading Friedman (I don’t know how you do it, Book) when I realized that he had an uncanny ability to state the obvious while totally missing the obvious.
    I don’t know what they were thinking when they came up with the idea of “shovel ready jobs”. So Joe Schmoe loses his job in the hi-tech sector and the government hands him a shovel? Gee, thanks.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Danny, Book needs to know about the Left in intimate details in order to prevent her cover from being blown. I take it as learning the enemy culture in order not to be reported to the SS.
     
     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    The Dem fat cats are bloated with money. The only reason they talk about taxing the rich is because they themselves know that they WOULD NEVER willingly give out their money to the masses. Because they know, they like talking about their “competitors” in business and in elite circles, trying to “control” them by making them pay. Because they believe other people are just like them. It’s how they sustain their superior sense of self-worth.
     
    Because if other people weren’t robber barons like them, they could never justify destroying lives. What was Soros’ justification for taking the property of Jews and giving it to the French or SS/Gestapo authorities? If he wasn’t doing it, somebody else would it?
     
    Yeah, you see how that works don’t you.