90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Tom Friedman's Warning on American Competitiveness

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, right, talks with Energy Secretary Steven Chu at the White House, Dec. 3, 2009. (AP)

Jump off an 80-story building, and for 79 floors down you can make believe you’re flying, says New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. But that last floor is a killer.

Tom Friedman is yelling at the top of his lungs lately about the path America is on. The dream of glory and the real risk of a great fall. He’s yelling about clean energy and education, research and infrastructure, honest debate and international competitiveness, he’s warning, America is in big, big trouble, with not much time to get it right.

We talk with Tom Friedman.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guest:

Thomas L. Friedman, columnist for the New York Times, bestselling author, and recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes. His lastest book, newly revised, is Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0: Why We Need a Green Revolution– and How it Can Renew America.

In Friedman’s recent Times column “The Big American Leak,” he writes, “Fifty years ago, the world was shaped in a certain way, to promote certain values, because America had the leverage to shape it that way. We have been steadily losing that leverage because of our twin addictions to Middle East oil and Chinese credit — and the WikiLeaks show just what crow we have to eat because of that.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Al Dorman

    (Boston, MA)
    I as reflect on what I have learned in my 20s, during the previous decade and into 2010, I think I have come to the unfortunate conclusion (against interest, for I used to be a patriot) that the United States is a terrorist state. Look at our behaviour in Latin America and in other continents depending on the decade. Just look at it. And as we drain resources in the Middle East and provoke another disaster in Asia, I can’t help but think how much better the world might be without the “power and leverage” of the United States.

  • Zeno

    Realistically, America needs to transition from oil and coal to more sustainable and decentralized energy production. However, because our government is run from Wall Street, no rational governance for the whole country can be occur.

    There was no move toward green technology in the last stimulus, just increased funding of government worker salaries and pensions, proving that no amount of government money can make a green technology happen.

    Because all government funding will be consumed by the government itself, it will be up to the private sector to implement any aspects of the green evolution. But because once again this money must come from the short sighted and risk adverse greed of wall Street, it will not happen. They are making trillions on simply moving money around in the worlds economy…there is zero incentive to walk away from an unregulated sure thing, to an expensive maybe.

    As a result, asking whats good for America or globe is absolutely pointless and has nothing to do with the Judicial, Executive or Legislative process. Discussing the future or any aspect of governance with regard to the will of the people has become nothing more than irrational babbling.

    This book will change nothing except the writers bank balance. But keep trying Mr. Friedman, maybe someday a book will overpower the trillion dollar derivatives market.

  • michael..

    Tom Friedman On-point? come on a full hour of neo-con spin.

    Friedman’s attacks on war critics have always been misplaced. On Jan. 22, 2003, he attacked liberals for failing to recognize that “regime change in Iraq is not some distraction from the war on Al Qaeda,” and on June 4, 2003, he said that “the failure of the Bush team to produce any weapons of mass destruction” was not an issue with which the country should be concerned: “It was the wrong issue before the war, and it’s the wrong issue now.”
    “http://thinkprogress.org/2007/01/19/friedman-liberals/

    Yesterday was a very exciting day in America. Our nation’s most serious foreign policy expert, the “brilliant” Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, declared our latest new war:

    The next American president will inherit many foreign policy challenges, but surely one of the biggest will be the cold war. Yes, the next president is going to be a cold-war president — but this cold war is with Iran.

    So congratulations to us.

    After years of desperately searching, we’ve finally found our new Soviet Union.

    Nay-saying opponents of the New War (those who Tom Friedman, in March of 2003, dismissed as “knee-jerk liberals and pacifists”) may try to point out that Iran is a country whose defense spending is less than 1% of our own; spends less on its military than countries such as the Netherlands and Sweden; has never invaded another country in modern history, and could not possibly threaten us, but those are just small details. Iran is our new implacable foe in Tom Friedman’s glorious, transcendent struggle — which, in 2003, on NPR, he called “the beginning of World War III . . . the third great totalitarian challenge in the last, you know, 60 years,” and which he today defines this way (featuring an amazingly disingenuous use of parenthesis):http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glenn-greenwald/tom-friedmans-latest-decl_b_101956.html
    Tom Friedman’s Latest Declaration of War

  • michael..

    Tom Friedman, one of the nation’s leading propagandists for the Iraq War and a vigorous supporter of all of Israel’s wars, has a column today in The New York Times explaining and praising the Israeli attack on Gaza. For the sake of robust and diverse debate (for which our Liberal Media is so well known), Friedman’s column today appears alongside an Op-Ed from The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, one of the nation’s leading (and most deceitful) propagandists for the Iraq War and a vigorous supporter of all of Israel’s wars, who explains that Hamas is incorrigibly hateful and radical and cannot be negotiated with. One can hardly imagine a more compelling exhibit demonstrating the complete lack of accountability in the “journalism” profession — at least for those who are loyal establishment spokespeople who reflexively cheer on wars — than a leading Op-Ed page presenting these two war advocates, of all people, as experts, of all things, on the joys and glories of the latest Middle East war.

    Friedman argues that when low-skill and low-wage jobs are exported to foreign countries, more advanced and higher-skilled jobs will be freed up and made available for those displaced by the outsourcing. He theorizes that as long as those whose jobs are outsourced continue to further their education and specialize in their field, they will find better-paying and higher-skilled jobs.

    He also views American immigration laws as too restrictive and damaging to economic output:

    “It is pure idiocy that Congress will not open our borders – as wide as possible – to attract and keep the world’s first-round intellectual draft choices in an age when everyone increasingly has the same innovation tools and the key differentiator is human talent.”[22]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Friedman
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2009/01/14/friedman

  • michael..

    Thomas F. advocates for Authoritarian type rule,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/opinion/09friedman.html
    “One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.”

    Friedman on china yet again on MSNBC,

    Well, David, it’s been decimated. It’s been decimated by everything from the gerrymandering of political districts to cable television to an Internet where I can create a digital lynch mob against you from the left or right if I don’t like where you’re going, to the fact that money and politics is so out of control—really our Congress is a forum for legalized bribery. You know, that’s really what, what it’s come down to. So I don’t—I, I—I’m worried about this, it’s why I have fantasized—don’t get me wrong—but that what if we could just be China for a day? I mean, just, just, just one day. You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions, and I do think there is a sense of that, on, on everything from the economy to environment. I don’t want to be China for a second, OK, I want my democracy to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness. But right now we have a system that can

  • Nick From Massachusetts

    I just spent a week of work in Milan, Italy. I was shocked how far ahead the companies there are in technology, plants, work habits and attitudes…… and their quality of life. And it wasn’t all Italians that I worked with. There were Serbs of all sorts, French, Muslims, and an African.

    Keep in mind, energy and materials are vastly more expensive in Europe but their quality of life is much better.

    I am tired of all my Conservative friends pounding their chest with “America is the best country in the World” without having ever left the country. We may still be the Best Country in the World but we have to start making it such instead of mouthing it.

    Nick

    PS: And WOW ! Do they eat better than we do but still don’t put on weight !

  • http://freeourfreemarkets.org sbanicki

    Mr. Friedman forgot one thing; after World War II we were the last country standing. Some of our influence was bound to be eroded as the rest of the world rebuilt.

    We assisted our allies in many ways to recover from World War II and the Korean War. We helped rebuild Europe. We defended the “free world” from a take over by communism and we helped their economies by entering into trade agreements that did not always help the American citizen.

    I am proud of what we did. I also acknowledge that most often we also benefited from our decisions.

    However, that was then and this is now. Many of the allies that we helped are now strong; both politically and economically. In fact a number of them are our strongest competitors on the economic scene. It is time that we stop subsidizing them economically with biased trade practices and require that they contribute more to their national defense.
    Read More

  • David E.

    Please ask Mr. Friedman to comment on the embedded taxpayer subsidies fossil fuel companies receive to protect production and product transit. Examples include

  • Valkyrie607

    Mr. Friedman has little credibility and yet he is given a platform on the NYTimes opinion pages. Now you’re giving him a full hour to spout his neocon silliness? No thanks, I don’t need to listen to this.

    Do ask him how many more Friedman units he thinks we’ll be in Afghanistan for me though.

  • David E.

    Please ask Mr. Friedman to comment on the embedded taxpayer subsidies fossil fuel companies receive to protect production and product transit. Examples include, multiple US bases and a carrier group in the Persian Gulf. Shouldn’t private companies pay for their own security detail? I am sure that Xe (AKA Blackwater) would love to get these contracts.

  • http://bruceguindon.com bruce guindon

    the only way America can recover its greatness is to reestablish a vibrant manufacturing base anything short of that is only smoke and mirrors

  • Bob of Newton

    This is the man who is (was) all in favor of exporting our manufacturing base overeseas. His credibility is zilch.
    His type are all in favor of free trade but seem to see no need for fair trade.
    Sorry, he has little to add to the discussion.

  • geffe

    I can see that this is going to be “Bash Tom Friedman Day” on the forum. I’m not a fan myself so I think I’ll listen to Dian Reeves.

    My one comment about what he’s written about our economy is that he seems to live in la-la land. I mean we live in a plutocracy and nothing is going to get done here.
    Look at health care. We should have a good health care system in place by now, but what we have is a mess that is failing and failing fast.

    Retraining for technological jobs? What jobs Mr. Friedman? I don’t see any for people who lost out in this economy.

    How about advocating for some new tough banking laws?
    Or affordable house that is decent and not driven by greed and bubbles.

    Nick From Massachusetts while I hear you on Europe, well parts of it they are having some serious problems. Italy in fact is one of the countries that is in huge trouble.
    It does not help that they have a corrupt government that is worse than ours. But they do eat and live well despite it all. In that there is a lesson. They also have good health care.

  • Jim from Vermont

    1). The real science shows that implementation of all wind renewable proposals (subsidized) could only account for less than 2% of our energy needs. Admittedly we’re greedy and that has to change along with a complete and substantive revolution of all our educational systems, including adults no longer in schools.

    Solar shows somewhat greater promise, but the technology is not ready there either.

    The only green program that can work is nuclear and we are GOOD at that.

    2). Get out of the Middle East! It’ll blow up. Who cares? Or, make it China’s problem. They have all the money, weapons, and manpower. They are the Superpower.

  • mary elizabeth

    To Zeno: All one has to do is google “jobs in green technology provided by stimulus” and the list will come up.
    Yes, the USA and, indeed, the world is in a huge transition. Let’s be glad that folks with the deeply cynical and fatalistic mindset of a Zeno are not charged with leading the way forward and out of the current chaos we are in. We would be spinning our wheels into eternity
    As least Tom Friedman attempts to understand and shed light and offer a vision and inspire a public dialogue that will help rouse the creativity and courage needed
    to lift the nation.

  • Eric M. Jones

    Here is a revealing chart of weath distribution in the US:

    http://tiny.cc/DL8dt

    I put this together because the pie chart conceals important data dimensions, as does the bar graph above.

    As for the question of wealth distribution generally, all that is necessary is that wealth must not become a vehicle to control society to perpetuate one’s wealth, and poverty must not be so deep that it becomes permanent in a class.

    But I fear the US has had it. It is China’s century or two….

  • Judy Benson, Atlanta GA

    The point of the comparison between the Chinese infrastructure construction and ours is well taken, but how much is that due to China’s man power and a difference in building and safety requirements?

  • Larry

    Save your breath Tom, we are run by the criminally insane in America.

    BTW I know what you are talking about, go to China Americans if you want to see what your money is being spent on.

  • Bill

    I am listening from Japan where I live although I am from Philadelphia. The problem is that Tom Friedman has the opportunity to see across the ocean but most Americans cannot. What might be great is if he could invite people like Sarah Palin to go with him to China. It would be good if he could bring the anchors and hosts at Fox News with him. And to take other “tea party” leaders with him. That would help a lot I hope.

  • dan

    While I appreciate the bemoaning of the lost of American prestige. The context of the world has changed, unfortunately, our leaders have not recognized this fact. How can we set an example when all we are is the world’s mecenary and spend all our borrowed money on “defense”. A trillon dollars a year.
    This is more than all the other countries of the world combined. We have lost our way.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    I agree about we’re “underinvesting in our future,” as Friedman is just now saying, but when he talks about being a global power, I beg to differ. We can’t be all things to all people. We have to persuade China, India, Iran, others, to join us. We have to have interbreeding of values to some extent to make a global conscience, a global center of gravity.
    If America can no longer defeat all evil-doers alone without borrowing “three quarters of a trillion dollars from China,” quoting him just now, then we need the world going along with us. (Apparently China is along with us, actually, if they buy our bonds.)

  • Zeno

    @ mary elizabeth – The internet is 90% lies at best. A Google search will reveal the propaganda and lies that make up the bulk of biased lies that are paid to be presented by the search engine.

    If you listened to the opening statement from this guy he is talking about the Bush doctrine of forced hegemony on borrowed money, and a false history based upon patriotic and class bias.

    If the ideas and philosophy of this guy were used to run the country it would be a fascist state.

  • Andrea Wilder

    Tom Ashbrook:

    EDUCATION: PISA REPORT:

    –FINLAND picks high school seniors for its 5 yr. ed school program.
    THEN 1 in 10 graduates selected for a teaching job.
    SALARY = IN SAME LEAGUE AS LAWYERS, DOCTORS

    The USA picks the LOW END of college graduates!
    FINLAND picks the top!

    “alice”

    CAMBRIDGE, MA

  • Steven Brooks

    Tom has been a good advocate for the US, particularly regarding a new “moon shot” of becoming the world leader in safe energy technology which would bring America jobs and trade with other companies who can use our new technology. I’d be interested in hearing his comment regarding the the conservative propaganda machine throughout the AM radio spectrum, and on Fox News. With the constant demonizing on a 24 hour basis, creating a culture that does not believe someone can have both a differing point of view AND integrity, it becomes impossible for conservatives to compromise – an absolutely necessary aspect of a healthy democracy.

  • Sascha Hubbard

    Love your book, I couldn’t agree more! I’ve been saying the same thing to my friends and family for years and they think I’m just a pessimistic eco-freak. We are on a one year plan to sell our house, pull all our money out of the stock market and leave America. We have small children we plan to home-school but I would rather send them to a good public school. If you could pick up you family and move, where would you go?
    Sascha in Portsmouth RI

  • Dee (NY)

    The sad truth is that we are very close to the end of the American Empire. Our foreign entanglements in war and finance have drained the inner strength of the nation at the same time that we have a complete paucity of political leadership. All empires fail; the only choice we have is in how.

  • Larry

    How can we invent our way out of this when the system is corrupt and rigged to only benefit the top?

    The top takes all the productivity gains and keeps suppressing the wages of white collar workers.

    TAX THE RICH AND CUT THE MILITARY BUDGET IN 2/3s AND WE ARE GOING TO BE FINE!

  • William

    There you have it!. Once again Mr. Friedman suggest a higher tax on energy!. Yes, make the fuel for our economy too expensive and that will create even more jobs..in China!

  • Jean Smith

    The tax bill paid off everyone from the Mellons and Scaifes to the working poor.

    We’re a twentieth century nation in the twenty-first century competition.

  • Zeno

    ” Hybrid politics ” as he is describing it is the will of the people being secondary to the will of Wall Street. Thanks for the confirmation of my first post.

  • geffe

    Sascha Hubbard I would go to Canada France or Germany.
    Good health care. If you don’t speak French Canada would be my choice.

  • Rick Stewart

    In January 2010 I had a different experience. I left my Beijing apartment and took the brand new train to the brand new airport, where I flew to the old Hong Kong airport and took the old Hong Kong subway to an Hong Kong apartment.

    A lot of China’s ‘new’ stuff is still very 3rd world. HK is not.

    Progress is not all about new buildings.

    But – I agree the US is a fat old decaying country where half the population is trying to get someone else to pick up their tab.

  • susan james

    More education, better skills, for what? With all do respect, unless someone comes
    up with very specific “new jobs”, this is all rhetoric.

  • PS

    I’ve been to China too. The reason that they can get a massive project done quickly is that the government decress that it will be done and for them a few dozen deaths and even more injuries is a rounding error. You can get an awful lot done in an authoritarian society, particularly if it’s a technologically advanced one, and if you don’t care too much about human or environmental degradation. That’s not how we roll.

  • Lydia Langer

    Who does Tom Friedman think are some forward thinking politicians that understand the changes that need to be made in order for the US to stay on top?

    Buffalo, NY

  • Gary Paddock

    As Colin G. Calloway says in the closing words of his book One Vast Winter Count, “Recent events have exposed dramatically the fragility of our own power and prosperity … the United States might better be seen as a phase rather than a final solution … The American West remains one vast winter count; we are adding our symbols, but the spiraling calendar continues.”

    Thank you Thomas Friedman for your insights and vision! If only we could listen!

  • Ralph

    How much of the problem is the result of government policies being 180 from what they should be because governments take a Financial Market approach to money rather than a facilitate commerce perspective?

  • susan james

    boston

  • Andrew

    We need to forget about the deficit and start spending. The only reason to tax is to keep inflation in control, but we have no inflation problem. We can always raise interest rates to deal with inflation.

    Let’s get busy.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Friedman is talking about the majority now identified as “independent,” and wondering how they “get off the ground.” And I’m thinking this lift-off can only be achieved when there is wall-to-wall coverage (in the teeth of the Citizens United Supreme Court case) of every last elected official’s doings, decisions, staff activities in our interest, issues, meetings, I don’t know what all.
    And on top of that, in the teeth of Citizens United, independents need to get the pre-primary fermentation out there where we can all understand and help move things along.
    Politics depends on the media doing something like that.

  • http://adirondackbuyerbroker.com Mary Ellen Stumpf

    I view state laws regulating professional licensing as anticompetitive and impairing fluidity in the workforce. For example, I moved to NY from another state in which I was licensed to practice law, but was not allowed a reciprocal license because I was not working full time for 5 or the 7 years before the application. Albert Eintstien would not be allowed to teach math in any public high school in this state (and probably most others)without going back to school for teacher licensure. Moreover, the curriculum in high school is often driven by the narrow perspective of teaching colleges (a drive to the status quo), while college curriculum is often redundant and looking backward and not forward.

  • Tom Emmanuel

    Is there a way to tax companies on their income-per-employee? That seems like one way to use tax policy to boost employment.

  • Steve L

    The problem with us becoming “10 times more productive ….” is that the technology to do that will immediately be used in China or India to make them 10 times more productive without increasing their income.

    Steve in Nashville, TN

  • Martha Johnston

    Mr. Friedman is talking sense – and always has. Americans do not want to listen, much to our detriment. I wish we would all wake up and be constructive, not just complain about where we find ourselves in the 21st century.

  • Larry

    Don’t worry people Tom’s theory of world trade where we are competing with the lowest wage earners around the world are all based on cheap oil.

    It will all collapses as oil becomes harder and harder to extract and more and more unaffordable.

    Then it will all be local. Get ready for that.

  • Ren Knopf

    Too many appear to be happy being dumb as they want to be. Off-the-wall opinions and “somebody told me” facts that drive discussion and votes support the embarrassing condition of this country’s education and politics. What will it take to get Americans to discard all the bogus partisan rhetoric and smoke and mirror pictures of self-interest we’ve been shown for over a decade and hold feet to fires so the interest and well-being of this country becomes a real priority? Damned if I know and I would like an answer for my daughter. Ren Knopf, Framingham, MA

  • Scott B

    As far as infrastructure goes, we could save billions if more “supercrete” was was used for highways instead of the concrete typically used. It’s basically the same stuff that the Romans used to build their roads and buildings and many of them are still standing. Except, instead of using volcanic fly ash we can used the by products of coal-fire power plants and other industries. Imagine not having to repave a road every few years, and where that money could be put for other infrastructure.

  • Ira

    SImply, here is the issue: our debt and the bulk of our financial commitments(entitlements) are for activities that largely occurred in the past. We have not been investing in the future for a long time….infrastructure, education, basic research. No Company would be in business if they didn’t invest in the future. Companies that borrow to invest in the past go bankrupt…..GM,etc.

    From Boston area

  • Bernard Biales

    1. I am not a fan of America as Rome, even if somewhat more benevolent and less imperial. The idea that we can maintain the role in the world that was possible after WW II seems to me to be pure fantasy. If you figure the cost of war and the military and two wars over the last decade — something like six plus trillion, not include just US lives damaged one sees an increment that could make a big differenc, if we didn’t insist on being the world’s policeman.
    2. We won’t be ten times as productive as China, etc.
    3. Our aging population will be a huge drag on us and others.
    4. Technology will eat away at humanity, and require more and more repressive educational systems. You gotta have a bachelors at least, and to get that you have to go to school more and more in El-Hi and earlier.
    We also have the most superstitious population in the first world. Perhaps this explains some of the bizarre characteristics of our political sphere — perhaps it was always this disfunctional, but as in the military sphere, we had resources that compensated.
    5. These and other problems (7 Billion and counting) will respond, but not well, to mostly bandaid solutions.

  • Dennis Carothers

    I’d like to hear Mr. Friedman make the case that while American political culture – and perhaps democracies in general – tend to be reactive, we can become proactive. I believe that’s the only way to survive.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    No mention yet of the Obama administration talking about unlimited opportunities for America in exporting to the countries that are just beginning to develop. We foster those countries when we buy their cheaply-produced goods, but then we get to sell to their new middle class.
    We’re in the fostering phase now.

  • geffe

    Tom we are not China. They are not us. They still have billions who live on pennies a day and are living in the dark ages. I don’t disagree with what Mr. Friedman is saying but he does tend to over simplify the Chinese.

  • David Wells

    I am in Sumter, South Carolina. Please explain why changes to Social Security has anything to do with the deficit. Social Security is self-funded.

  • Steve L

    The last President to ask us to do something hard was when Jimmie Carter gave his “the energy crisis is the moral equivalent to war” speech.

    Where did that get him ???

    The American people have to get over themselves and be willing to “lead, follow, or get out of the way”.

    Steve in Nashville

  • Scott B

    Why does it take years of environmental impact studies to build a high-speed rail system right next to, if not in place of, the existing tracks? The trains are more efficient, less polluting, and quieter and we have to think hard on a no-brainer?

  • nj, Ashland, Mass.

    Awww, geez, an hour of Tom Friedman?

    No, thanks. On Point can and should do better.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/an-idiots-guide-to-tom-fr_b_298371.html

    An Idiot’s Guide to Tom Friedman’s Idiocy

  • http://www.africaanswerman.com Jim Heck

    Friedman’s implicit foundation is the same incorrect foundation of Obama: compromise is possible. Friedman points out a broken infrastructure, but it’s not broken for the rich, and that’s the point. It’s rich against the rest of us, and Friedman ignores this.

  • http://zeitvox.com Citizen Zed

    Just before the Reagan fantasyland, the pompoms for America and the disgust for any criticism, we had a President who told us what we didn’t want to hear:

    The “Malaise Speech”
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carter/filmmore/ps_crisis.html

    Starting with Reagan, we’ve been so busy patting ourselves on the back and systematically trashing anything except individual avarice that … we never questioned consumption, energy dependence and war. We celebrated it.

  • Webb Nichols

    Facts about China’s rise. Look at who is engineering and designing their buildings, airports and railroad stations. Often it is Western Designers and engineers.

    The united State will never achieve supremacy again until
    it finds useful work for the Military Industrial Complex and there is parity in wages and salaries throughout the world.

  • Anne

    I heard Tom Friedman state that American workers need to be ten times as productive as workers in China and in India in order to be paid ten times Chinese or Indian salaries. I am not sure whether he’s read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Nickel and Dimed, on not getting by in America, but she makes the point that American workers ARE more productive than ever, but the profits are going to the corporations, not to the workers.

  • Yar from Somerset, KY

    It all comes down to energy. We have lost our way through the demise of family. The basic unit of democracy. The Conservatives attack the non-traditional family as our demise, it is a red herring, our loss is the exploitation of children though suburban two car two plus job family unit that leaves little time for creativity or anything else.
    My solution is paying for social programs through a VAT, so healthcare education, and retirement are funded by consumption.
    Defense would be funded through a progressive income tax.
    Energy should be taxed to fund infrastructure.

    A family can then see the economics, and understand trading time for money. It will cause more people to to do more for themselves. That leads to better health and less wasting of resources.

  • http://www.sacredyogaoftheheart.com leroy rangan

    The centralization of product distribution i.e. Walmart, BJ’s, Home Dept, etc. has killed the Ma and Pa small local stores and services aspect has taken independent ways of making a living and replaces these ways of earning with a greatly reduced low waged job. The way that taxation and rules of expansion for mega-companies squeeze the balance of power of the ordinary American individuals needs to be looked at. It is not realistic to imagine that all Americans or any population of any country want to or can move to an educated level to satisfy America’s need for global involvements.

  • Jon

    Mr. Friedman, you’ve said that you’ve dreamed of a day when America was a dictatorship (even for a day) of course as a joke; as such a thing would get us started on the right path in terms of policy. Is there anything we could do to maybe get us closer to that without becoming such an state?

    Lawrence KS

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Friedman is answering my question about global power, needing a shared global conscience. He says China is a “freeloader on the global system,” and is supporting dictatorships in Iran, Burma, etc., and I’m thinking the United States has supported dictatorships, but not exactly blindly. To some extent, yes we support dictatorships to support supply lines (to oil, for instance), but also to counter particular adversaries (notably the Soviet Union).
    The fact so many WANT to come the United States suggests that American values have infiltrated the world.

  • Salim

    What Mr. Friedman is proposing is not revolutionary but common sense, pure and simple. Nothing more, nothing less! The fact that he is portrayed as purveying an extreme message, or that he is some sort of a revolutionary is a statement on the current state of American politics. The US is polarized to the point of political paralysis. Nothing truly constructive will get done as long as ideologues are driving the political agenda. ( i.e.: Tea Party, Neo Cons, Religious right, profiteers (Sarah, Rush and Glenn)). As Mr. Friedman proposes, it will take a balanced, pragmatic, multilevel, non-politicized approach to solve the US crisis. I do not see this any chance of this happening until the US public becomes educated to the facts rather than accept to be led like sheep.

  • Watson

    Michigan – “Reaganism” is the problem? Did Reagan ask for a bigger government? So the answer is to increase the size and reach of government and that will solve our problems?

  • Deb Brydon

    I’m insulted by Tom Friedman’s suggestion that Americans need to sacrifice and pull together more. Americans are working more than 40 hours a week, exceeding our Western counterparts, just to make ends meet, to send kids to school, to pay for medical expenses, for food. And who do you think is sacrificing their family members to serve in two ill-advised wars? It’s naive and cowardly to ignore the crux of these problems–a country where corporations are above the law because they make the laws and run the government.

  • Vincent Crockenberg

    Re Friedman’s comment just now that the Iraq war that he so championed cost us an immense amount of money. He should be reminded that it also cost an enormous number of lives, especially Iraqi lives.

  • John Goodwin

    Bloomberg-Friedman 2012! Ron Paul as sec of the Treasury! I agree wholeheartedly in the taxation of traditional energy sources to literally drive us to alternative energy sources.

    Then skim the windfall profits into green subsidies and hi speed rail etc.

    Government is also known as “We the People” “We” just need to be smart about what our government does!

  • Paolo Caruso

    Listening to this interview is painful.

    Freedman, and his warped ideology, is the reason the USA is near its end. He was constantly beating the drum for war in defense of Israel’s interests and war profiteers, and now he has the HUTZPAH to offer his lame solutions to the economy.

    Trillions that could have been spent to re-educate and improve infrastructure in the USA. Tom Freedman and his gang have bankrupted this country through war and outright theft on Wall Street.

    It amazes me that Tom Freedman with anyone who is not a zionist, a neocon, or employee of General Dynamics.

  • Roger J

    Our taxes ARE messed up. Mr. Friedman notes politics is $1 / 1 vote. The Republican diversion is amazing. Their conservative Supreme Court gave us Citizens United: money = speech; no accountability or public awareness of who is speaking. Then they hold up compassionate response to the economic crisis (and all other legislative action) unless we extend the give-away tax breaks for the very wealthy. By almost all economic analysis, the tax bill’s benefits to the poor and middle class will stimulate the economy. The huge payoff to the rich does not stimulate the economy but severely increases our debt. Mr. Friedman warns us that this debt threatens to undermine our national stability. But the Republican “beauty” is, with the tax breaks, the filthy rich and wealthy special interests will have more money to pump into the 2012 elections to feed the public more attack and fear ads that will again distort the political process.

  • Larry

    Trillions that could have been spent to re-educate and improve infrastructure in the USA. Tom Freedman and his gang have bankrupted this country through war and outright theft on Wall Street.

    Posted by Paolo Caruso

    The world that could have been. Makes me weep.

  • manoog kaprielian from providence, ri

    What if we leave United States just attractive enough to the world’s educated geeks. Will will supply them with J-visasjust as our universities and Nobel science prize winners routinely do (but then disown that talent at prize and patent time). In exchange for their countries of origin to kindly take any of our yahoos who wants to close our borders and take down the Dream act, while their own children cannot even win a spelling bee.

  • Heidi Nepveu

    The power structure you have not mentioned is the media. When you have corporate power influencing the political dialog, it is not simply a matter of politicians, but corporate influence on those politicians and the public. We need a truly “fair and balanced” media again as we had before the repeal of the “fairness Act.”

    Heidi N., Burlington, VT

  • Jennifer F. Smith

    There is much talk about the cut in payroll taxes, as an essential part of getting this country back on its feet. However, no one is talking about the a major exclusion from this tax cut: all the municipal, state and federal workers covered by public pension plans not Medicare. They will not see this tax cut at all. It’s a double whammy for federal workers, overwhelmingly middle income and below, who also are under a pay freeze for the next two years. Mr. Friedman talks rightly about declining infrastructure as a huge threat to the U.S. We need to be more aware of our social infrastructure and take care to preserve and maintain that as well.

    Belmont MA

  • Erin in Cedar Rapids IA

    The revolution will come from our wallets – not the halls of Congress.

  • Nicabod

    The USA is (or has been) too good a country to discard as trash. True, we have surely not been angels, but we have had much to inspire the world.

    We live in The Age of Exalted Greed. (Book title, anyone?)

    Now that greed has (de facto) been established as good social policy, what’s next?

    Fox News demonstrates serious social sabotage, yet it’s acclaimed by more than a few.

    [I'm in the West-suburban Boston area]

  • Amy CT

    The underlying false assumption by Friedman is that anyone who is profiting from the current system (rigged against the people living in the US) has the same nationalistic sentiments that media propagandists do. If it benefits you reduce human beings to serfdom, what does it matter on what part of the planet they are from?

  • Clint, Nashville, TN

    Tom’s point about education creating new jobs that didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago (Facebook app designer, etc.) is well taken, but if our wealth gap continues to spread, we will have institutionalized poverty and created a permanent lower class that cannot get access to the education they need.

    Unless we are willing to create a huge social welfare system that provides free college education for all Americans (good luck finding popular support for that), our manufacturing sector is the next most dependable way to give poor Americans living wages and a chance of sending themselves or their children to quality schools and colleges.

    PLEASE COMMENT on the Manufacturing or Infastructure (construction) jobs in our country and how we can get them back from China and other foreign countries to give quality stable jobs to the greatest number of our citizens. I’d be interested in knowing how our manufacturing sector stacks up now with every other country in the world and how much it has declined over the last 30 to 50 years.

  • leroy rangan

    I love NPR and especailly on point, but we are singing to the choir. I am frustrated that the waves of truthful, non-political – Left or Right that I listen to each day, do not to reach the dragons that support pos-imperial modern feudalism.

  • Bill5

    I’d like to hear Tom Friedman comment on how to get special interests out of financing politicians and their campaigns (with their undue, self interests). They seem to be hell bent on killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Also, why not use unemployment insurance to pay those people to do useful work (infrastructure, innovation, private, public companies, etc.).

  • Danial

    I can’t believe Mr. Friedman has gotten the accolades he has. Like others have said, his positions on foreign policy have been wrong time after time. Many of my friends think he’s an intellectual, but I think he’s an opportunist. I agree with his current position (it’s easy to criticize), but why can’t he see that people like him are the ones responsible for the state of our country.
    Today’s he’s arguing for a third party, but a few years ago he advocated bipartisanship because that was the only way to get things done.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Friedman I think has been going a little too far with his theme of “No one ever washed a rented car.”
    I get it that the countries where we are fighting have to “own” their commitment to democracy.
    But as a long-time renter, I have confronted this issue of only-owners-are-real-citizens type argument. And I say that renters are more community-oriented than owners, are better collaborators, and not only take responsibility for their own space, but to some extent that of their co-tenants. They “work with” the landlords to assure the safe continuance of the little community within the city.
    There is more ownership to co-owning than to I’ve-grabbed-it-and-I-can-wreck-it-it’s-mine.
    Government is a matter of co-owning a nation. We rent our piece of it for life.
    We try to hand it down intact to our grandchildren.

  • Damien

    Tom Friedman is a tool and an apologist for US aggression and Israeli colonialism. Friedman’s also an American liberal’s wet dream, which says a lot about how center right the so-called American left is.

  • http://www.africaanswerman.com Jim Heck

    Friedman’s response to my comment posted at 10:37 AM was unacceptable. Tautological at best. My point stated less succinctly is that the infrastructure for the poor is getting poorer compared to the rich, and the divide which he concedes is now too big to bridge. Too many people ignoring this fact doom us to meaningless, rapes us of the action their own ideas mandate.

  • Pancake in NC

    Tom Freidmann is far too conventional in his views. He clings to a past where a tiny elite steered our fate. The Oligarchy placed him to pontificate their interests from the New York Times. His era is nearly passed. Don’t follow this Pied Piper. Elite Finance is dead. Usury’s reign is nearly over.

  • http://HipHarp.com Deborah Henson-Conant

    I listened to this broadcast as an artist and found it inspiring – about invention, about ownership. I often feel marginalized in political discussion – but what I heard from Friedman was a call for government and politics to commit to those same concepts and practices I commit my own life to: ownership of idea, sacrifice of comfort in the name of commitment towards an end of my own invention.

    Thank you.

  • Liberal Nightmares

    I have already started to demand that this outlet for communist propoganda be defunded by taxpayer resources.
    At last voters are seeing the communist insurgency that is taking place and the true face of the leftist lies. 2012 will be the last of this incidious deciet by you and your handlers. Your programs are filthy with lies and deciet. See ya at the polls:)

  • Paolo Caruso

    Friedman is NOT an intellectual. He is a mediocre propagandist. Intelligent people can shoot holes in his every statement.
    Friedman is a flim flam man and changes his colors like a cameleon.

    Friedman’s only consistency is that he is an avid zionist and a shill for Wall Street and banking money, both of which have brought the US down to its knees.

    His subterfuge on economics are outrageous and unqualified. Which is why is says: “you know” alot.

  • Caleb

    The notion that social infrastructure spending in areas such as Social Security and Medicare are the culprits of our bloated deficit situation is a flat-out myth. Any highly productive and generally affluent political economy must do the preventative maintenance necessary to ensure a healthy, trained and deployable workforce and can do so at a cost that is far cheaper than what the inefficient hodgepodge of privatized systems achieve in this country. This basic social infrastructure maintenance requires educating average workers and treating them for TB, strep, a broken leg and measles at a cost which will comprise a relatively low margin of their total income. Why is it that the US is the only industrialized country on earth to require everyone to learn how to read and do sums but refuses to ensure that they and their working parents are treated for basic illnesses without entering into bankruptcy?

    The female caller who called in mid-show that named the joint culprits as low taxes (and the lack of Progressivity in the code) and out-of-control Military Spending is right on. The real culprit is indeed military spending: in 2009 the US spent about 7.6 x the amount of the next highest military spender, China, and about 10x the amount of all European nations (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Military Expenditure Database in constant 2008 USD). If we were to slash our military budget in half, we could still be the World’s biggest, baddest, imperialist bully with 3.8 x the spending of the next biggest thug.

    As for Health Care: Medicare, Medicaid & CHIP = 21% of the Fed. Budget in 2010, or 16% of US GDP in 2007. Canada and most of the G20 nations, contrastingly, spend around an 11% of GDP on Health Care (OECD Health Data, June 2009). Yet in Sept 2010, the US Census Bureau reported that 50.7 million Americans (16.7% of population) are now without any coverage (up from 46.3 Million of 15.4% of the population in 2007). All of the other G20 nations, contrastingly, cover all of their citizens for most treatments procedures. Even when adjusted for obesity and life-style related mortality, our comparatively low life expectancy bears testimony to this disadvantage.

    If we had a single payer system with price controls in the USA (like every one of our competitors, including Singapore, which rigorously controls supply and demand and institutes a sliding payment scale), we’d be able to drastically lower costs via monopsony and drastically expand and improve coverage. In terms of cost & efficacy, all the systems of Western Europe, Canada, Japan, NZ, Aus, etc. are far superior to that of the US. While all of the G20 countries have complete or near complete coverage, they spend, on average, 1/2 or less the per capital what the US spends on Health Care (OECD Health Data 2010). Yet the USA health care under-performs the majority of G20 systems, such that the WHO ranked us at 37 in 2000. Even when completely removing the equity parameter, the conservatively-biased WSJ reckoned that we’d still be at 15th place in 2009.

    Higher education is another competitive disadvantage for the US, as all of our G20 counterparts fund or highly subsidize higher ed expenditures. In the US, however, we are laden with uncontrolled higher ed. cost inflation at nearly 10% since the late 1980s, with the result that all but the affluent are laden with decades of student loans – a entry cost into the labor market unknown to the citizens of the other industrialized nations.

    We are indeed suffering from the Reagan revolution, which redefined the status quo as a deadly combination of slashing taxes while pumping non-developmental spending in military and corporate handouts and signing carte-blanch off-shoring treaties which have decimated the manufacturing might of the US – precisely the areas in which the strong leaders of the early 21st century world economy, Germany and China, excel. We should 1) return to the pre-Reagan tax code, with some lowering of rates on the lower half of the scale, 2) re-impose protective trade policies on everything but commodities to boost domestic production and consumption, 3) introduce a universal public health system in order to cut costs, expand coverage and improve quality and 4) publicly fund higher education for all who qualify for entry. These policies would raise the standard of living, reverse the rising poverty margin and declining wage trend and begin to restore, rather than detract from American competitiveness. In short: we need to revive the New Deal Coalition in American politics.

  • Roer Yagonas

    Tom is right on some things, but has also missed some hugely important points.

    1) Yes, we cannot keep cutting taxes and still spend for everything we want. That just isn’t going to fly anymore.

    2) Yes, we must experiment, innovate, and invent to create new jobs. That is still a private sector activity as Governments rarely innovate. Governments are too worried about law suits, and politicians are too corrupt to truly innovate.

    3) Most people just do not trust government to do anything right. If I am taxed more, what will Government do, make more “Big Dig” style projects that are choked with corruption and failure?

    4) Class warfare is a non-starter. Yes, a millionaire pays must less as a percentage to Social Security than
    you or I. He/She also gets far less, as a percentage when they retire as a monthly payment. Social Security is one of the most fair and simple program in our government. You get back what you pay in. Social Security just needs to be protected…with a REAL trustee that does not steal from it and pay back with debt-based IOUs.

    If politicians would give up their money addiction, I would have more faith that things might work with higher taxes. Minus that, I can’t see sending Washington any more money.

    – R

  • stef

    What does it say about NYT to have a guy like this working for them ?
    He does not know about the history of the second WW.
    He does not know about the reasons SSSR collapsed.
    (I bet he credits the Great Clown,Reagan,who did more to
    ruin this country).
    And he does not know the history of the US since the 2nd WW,
    and the reasons for this wealth,gained then squandered now.

    IT IS LIKE LISTENING TO A PROPAGANDA TAPE THAT SPITS OUT THE
    APPROPRIATE SLOGAN OR BRAGGING TO THE APPROPRIATE QUESTION.

    For some people democracy is an excuse to say or to air anything.
    A great democracy demands great responsibility.

  • Yuri Paskalovich

    Mr. Friedman is either disingenuous or naive (probably both) when he says that the U.S. wants peace in the Middle East more than the Israelis and Palestinians do.

    If we really did, three things would have to happen first:

    1.) The U.S. government would have to end the 3-4 billion dollars in aid, including military aid, that it gives to Israel every year, in addition to the billions of dollars in loan guarantees–no matter how blatantly Israel ignores our wishes.

    2.) The U.S. would also have to stop using its veto power in the Security Council every time the United Nations tries to hold Israel accountable for its human rights violations or its flagrant disregard for international law. In other words, the U.S. government would have to neutralize its own absolutely unconditional support for Israel.

    3.) Both houses of Congress, as well as all of the other Washington powers, would have to resist the pressures that the Israel lobby in America puts on them to pursue policies and practices that advantage Israel. This is probably the toughest nut to crack because that lobby consists of 80-90 separate organizations–like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Israel Policy Form (IPF), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, etc., etc., etc.

    So, Mr. Friedman, how would you rate our chances of changing this status quo?

  • geffe

    Liberal Nightmares, are you for real?

    Amazing. Look up the word Communist.
    NPR’s funding is so low compared to the donations from the public and business that it’s laughable that you would even be bothered by it. Try looking up what agri business gets from our taxes and then look at the foolishness of your diatribe.

  • Betsy R Cramer

    (on hearing the beginning of this program:)
    True, giant Chinese skyscrapers and other buildings are built in months, rather than years, as in the USA and elsewhere, but Mr. Friedman should take a look at how those buildings are built and at the workers who are building those buildings and at their lives. I think he would be less praising … or I hope he would. Rural people, without work at home, are brought to the cities, paid a pittance, housed in bunked room tenements, without job security, without health insurance, even for injuries on the job, and if they’re lucky, a visit home only a couple of weeks a year. This is the process of the end result that Mr. Friedman praises.

  • Jennifer

    A correction to what I just posted – meant to refer to public employees who are not covered by Social Security but public pension plans, and so and won’t feel the benefits of the payroll tax cut.

    Belmont MA

  • Aaron in Salt Lake City

    I think your speaker is right on. It is quite refreshing to hear him (mind you scary because it is so true). Thanks for the show.

  • Andy Penziner

    @Jim Heck (11:02). Your point is valid, but Friedman’s response wasn’t totally tautological. He presumes success of the U.S. wealthy depends on a good quality domestic infrastructure for all. But he neglected the essential global component of U.S. corporate success.

    Elsewhere, Friedman’s last point that political influence is still an analog activity, not a digital one, is just cute rhetoric. Campaign finance and electoral reform are needed. Angry visits to our congressional reps don’t help.

    Finally, how preposterous of Friedman to suggest not much major good in the world happens without U.S. participation. It’s okay to be proud of the U.S., but not blindly so. Military power and a good film industry do not define greatest country on earth. Let’s both compete AND collaborate. As several have alluded, these days we’re “exceptional” only in our own internationally unaware minds.

  • Kevin

    I wish Friedman was not so prone to Americancentrism even as he is able to see the writing on the wall. Friedman’s criticisms of China in “We’ve Only Got America A” (Dec. 15) may serve as a sufficient mea culpa for his columns praising China, but his celebration of America for making the world a better place must ring hollow for the millions of individual victims of America’s military and economic misadventures over the past half-century, from Vietnam to now Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, Friedman’s disparagement of various countries that backed the China boycott reads almost as parody, given that Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are regarded as client states of the United States. Finally, although Friedman may not “want to live in a country where they throw whistle-blowers in jail,” surely he is aware that whistle-blower Bradley Manning has spent the past five months suffering in solitary confinement in Virginia as an alleged source for WikiLeaks. America is not worth celebrating if it remains bent on being an imperial war- machine surveillance state.

  • Harry Toder

    I liked the lady’s comments on the air that said that America should not try to be all things to all people. Don’t take me literally on this: Put rather crudely, maybe American students can lead the way in the realm of ideas, whereas other countries can take the lead when it comes to science and math.

    I’m not saying science and math aren’t important for our country; they certainly are, but how much can we do in relation to the rest of the world?

    China, it seems, is so focused upon development that it does so even at the peril of the environment. America seems more environmentally conscious.

    Again, maybe we should try to complement what the rest of the world is doing, without trying to be number one in every area. That still does not detract from our ability to be a great nation.

    Harry Toder

  • Joshua

    Hi Tom,

    I have read Mr. Friedman and have so many questions, but I will pose just one. Based on the example he used in the beginning of the show, China – as is most of the pacific region – more of a collectivist culture. The US is primarily a individualist culture.

    Using the China and mid-20th social program examples, what was the difference, culturally, then versus now? Was the US more collectivist, or was is something else? Has the US become so individualist-focused that we are even capable of making the necessary changes as you see them?

    Thank you for all your writings!
    Joshua
    Louisville, KY

  • http://www.bahairesources.com JUSTICE ST RAIN

    It doesn’t matter how much we invent. If people don’t have money to buy them, those inventions will NOT create jobs. As long as the wealthy siphon off a larger and larger portion of the income each year, there will not be enough middle class people to buy enough to create the economies of scale needed to launch new businesses.

  • Harry Toder

    Joshua:

    I know I’m not Tom(Sorry.).

    I would like to venture an opinion as to what you asked about:

    I think the U.S. is less “collectivist”(i.e. selfless) now than in the past, because we are not now faced with the same crises(i.e.,World War II and Great Depresssion). Difficult times have a way of pulling people together and, while we face significant economic challenges, they pale in comparison to what we faced in the War and Great Depression.

    As China becomes a wealthier, more industrialized country, it will be interesting to see if it maintains the same unity among its people as it apparently projects at this point.

    Harry Toder, Springfield, Ky.

  • Bennet Cecil

    Mr Friedman thinks the government owns the income that taxpayers earn. He mistakenly believes that successful Americans will keep working hard to provide government plunder. Instead they will retire or work part time and refuse to fund his Utopia. He can donate his personal wealth to the IRS.

  • thomas

    Tom Friedman is part of the problem, not the solution… He is just another mouthpiece for a special interest milking the U.S.taxpayers for hundreds of BILLIONS in welfare checks..[Foreign aid and millitary assistance PAYMENTS] Did I mention the multi TRILLION dollar war with Iraq that the neocons like Friedman conned us into..? Then look at the federal Reserve’s war on the taxpayers of America, Who is pulling their strings..?? Because of his love and support of America’s Mo.1 welfare queen and all her thefts and crimes, Friedman works for endless war against justice…..a war of lies America never needed…….

    But, hey don’t worry, the dweebs almost never seem to “get it”….. You are probably safe….here in the U.S……..

  • geffe

    Seems to me that the last tow comments are by people who do not want to pay taxes. Or they think that government is incapable of doing anything right. It’s interesting to note that France which has higher taxes, better living standards, national health care and decent pensions (well this is maybe going to change) is constantly voted as one of the best countries in the world to live in. The US is number 7. Even though the people of France pay high taxes they seem to be pretty satisfied with what they get in return. While we are not. Interesting situation.

  • Patricia

    Why is Thomas Friedman the only person I read or hear who makes any sense at all and WHY is NO ONE LISTENING!!! Thank you Mr. Friedman. I wish you were in charge.

    Midland, Texas

  • Harry Toder in Springfield, Ky.

    Patricia:

    I believe there is a sense of collective paralysis in this country, as it is having difficulty adjusting to changes taking place in the world. I also believe that the media has a way of making the situation seem worse than it really is; but this country does have problems which need addressing, such as education, which Mr. Friedman rightfully points out.

  • Mordecai Carroll

    Friedman comes off as very glib in much of this interview. In particular, the Larry Summers’ quote he references (i.e., “In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car”) is laughable. Are we supposed to take this as some profound statement of truth? Sounds an awful lot like a glib sound bite to me.

    Of course, glib sound bites are exactly what Friedman specializes in. I’m reminded of his statement (in 2003) on the Charlie Rose show, in which he defended his support for the Iraq War by suggesting that Americans needed “to take out a very big stick” and tell radical muslims “suck on this.” That’s some brilliant and thoughtful political analysis right there.

    Re: the Iraq War, for which he was a prominent liberal hawk cheerleader.

  • Zinovy Vayman

    “95% of my success depends on the country where I was born.”
    Warren Buffett was born in a Germanic country where “interbreeding of cultures or values” was not allowed.
    The only way was the assimilation into the Germanic tongue of English, into the Germanic body language, into the Germanic architecture, into the Germanic literature, into the Germanic work ethics, into the Germanic food, into the Germanic ingenuity…
    Democracy-shmemocracy, this country was based on neighbors and on neighborhoods. In a way, it still is.
    According to Harvard research multiculturalism is counterproductive.
    The country is changing because minorities are becoming the majority and they refuse to absorb quickly, obediently and effectively.
    Mr. Friedman’s catchphrases are paying well:
    “Dummies we want to be.
    To pass an American dream to future generations.
    Exxon-Mobil is not on your Facebook.
    Politics is still analog.
    Nobody washed a rented car.”
    Tom Friedman is a revolutionary in blah-blah-blah when half-truths are pronounced and sold when connections have been established.
    Let him come to Boston and change our city’s condominium industry with its fig leaf of ownership. A pack of lawyers is in wait for anybody who tries to “combine high aspirations with the willingness to sacrifice.” Judges are ready to deal with whistle blowers. Senators are protecting such anti-dwellers organizations as CAI—Condominium Association Institute.
    The waste is humongous. Lights and heat blast day and night. Tenants open windows in winter. Disrepair is abounding.
    Up to 30% of condo fees go to supervisors without any use for tax payers. Puffed-up rates are the rule.
    However if the Germanity of owners is high (owner occupancy is also highly desirable—a mini-neighborhood!) it is possible to run condominiums fairly bending the existing chapter 183 of the MGL in favor of small owners. Some shining examples beacon at the sea of theft.

    Dome Adorned With a Golden Pineapple.
    (Nope, With a Golden Pinecone!)

    I could have passed unnoticed the metal detector since the State House policemen abandoned it and were not visible. But I was not alone and the law-abiding women accompanying me would have stopped this prank or just make a ruckus. So we all waited— patiently, obediently, effeminately, and slavishly.
    At last we ascended to the upper hallways by the elevator and stepped onto the ornate floor.

    cathedral turned mosque:
    faces of saints veiled
    by the coat of paint

    Some small cubes in the mosaic of the Byzantine-like floor were missing. Instead of replacing them the restoration crew put generous dabs of lacquer into the cavities and the whole floor became glossy but not slippery.
    We find ourselves with Thomas Plihcik (Research Director, Joint Committee on Housing, House of Representatives, room 38 in the basement).
    Good news first. Condominium owners, who are terrified of medieval reprisals by the property managers and the CAI (Condominium Associations Institute) lawyers, may file their complaints and depositions anonymously. The papers will be stored and open to the public. But in this society of writers who is going to read them? Who is going to act on them? I am afraid, only Thomas and his interns may read the sad pages, if they have time which they don’t.
    Still we, the doomed activists are set to start some desperate campaign among look-alike sufferers and even collect neatly made papers from all our contacts and deliver them to

    Room 38
    State House
    Boston, MA 02133.

    We also paid a visit upon Laura E. Teicher, Director of Services and Policy Aide, Massachusetts Senate.
    She provided us with the texts of the proposed new laws S 654 and S 667 regarding condominium housing. They are not long and allow good reading in elegant legalese. They all contain amendments to the keystone Chapter 183A of the Massachusetts General Laws. MGL cannot be enforced or may be enforced only for a high attorney’s fee, which not many people – they are mostly McLean Hospital patients— have decided to pay so far. Non-involvement rules!
    Thus I render the amendments non-binding and utterly useless since they allow wide loopholes for secretive dealings (S 654) and they do not specify who pays for the “alternative dispute resolution” (S 667).
    No state law or association by-law enforcement mechanisms are addressed or even mentioned.
    Only when the town/city inspectors and auditors get involved may we see some relief in our hijacked buildings which are sailing with us and by us, presumed galley criminals manning the oars. We are whipped but not killed to allow our travel in time.

    my own cartoon—
    the picturesque pirates
    capture the high-rise

    We encourage everybody who is able to go to the State House, no appointment necessary. The secretary there reads such nonfiction as Dana Sobel’s Longitude if it may help in any way.
    Austrian mountains…
    natives don’t need afterlife ,
    Valhalla is here!
    There are two other venues to be explored (nightmares of summer nights are not useless for inspiration). One way is to go to the Housing Court, a great new building with excellent air conditioners, and start fishing out the kindred souls who appear before clerks of the court and judges to be invariably crushed and humiliated. They even might mumble, “Your Honor, here is the law!” and shake the papers. A judge might have some pity on these truth and justice seekers and advise them in a fatherly manner to get a lawyer. “But, Your Honor, a lawyer wants $250 an hour.
    I make $20/hr. How can I get justice?” a pro se litigant would plead heedlessly. “Enough!” Using esquire’s body language the judge dismisses the desperado. (“You got your day in court for your hundred bucks, buddy.
    Enough!”) Angling for plaintiffs in the fishbowls of the Housing Court Building is laborious, the statistics of cases is unclear and the disillusioned people outside the court room might be beyond reason. Looking for the home owners who are victimized as defendants may be a better choice. These lunatics had the chutzpa not to pay the ransom money to fiefdoms encrusted in the resplendent fabric of democracy.

    balmy afternoon
    the hotel heated awning
    cnanges climate fast

    Let’s turn to the Internet. Google “condo problems” and lawyers’ sites will jump first and foremost. Twenty million entries are to choose from but do not do it. (You may see such pearls as problems with “board managers” while in our neck of the jungle we got boards of trustees which hire management companies.)
    Please consider the second venue, the road less taken, namely the direct contact. We should reread Tom Wolfe’s book “Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1970. It is the story of success of the inner city groups propelling themselves into the City Hall and getting all the help they needed.
    We should brainstorm our tilted equations and come up with a new way to reach the hearts of the functionaries who are in power.

    summer’s apogee;
    the goldfish and I caught
    with shortness of breath

    Ah, CAI is throwing an “educational” event for the sheep they are prepared to fleece or slaughter. This event will take place in Norwood hotel this month. The post-bubble buyers of condominiums—they are not going to appreciate as quickly as before—are lured in with a free lunch. Let’s go there and play out the following old joke.

    Two ships meet at sea. People who are leaving Israel eye the enthusiastic people on board the ship sailing to Israel and shrug their shoulders, “Look at these fools!” The Israel-bound people see the rows of sullen Jews leaving Israel and shrug their shoulders too.

    Row, row, your boats! The advantages of condominium housing are here to stay and these advantages often supersede your humongous condo fees, assessments, fines and penalties. As for insults to your intelligence, forget it. Do not fight the system. Take your calculated risk. The federal government supports you! If you think condominium ownership is deceitful, try renting from a fair landlord of bygone era! Later you may be rewarded with subsidized housing…

    dreadful old age
    it’s frightful and ghastly
    well, not for long

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    Great discussion. I especially appreciated how Tom Friedman cleared up the stigmas about the green movement, that it is not just for tree hugging liberals, but it is really has something to offer for everyone. Everyone interacts with the environment and the entire economy depends on it as a foundation.

    This also gets to the point he made about the rich not being against such strategies, because they wouldn’t be able to stay in a good position without the rest of the economy working to support them. I still stick to my point that I have previously made here though that the ultra-rich are an indicator of the economy not working as it should. I think that we need to stop expecting them to be able to solve all of the worlds problems (the type of attitude that extends their tax cuts) and realize that it’s going to take all of us. It’s only when each person is empowered to stand up and act that these very complex problems can start being solved, and in order to do that, we have to stop giving our respect away to high scoring players in a game that itself should not be respected. For the economy to work as it should, all people need to be respected more than profits are.

    I was also reminded by this discussion of the pair of articles below that I read a while back in Foreign Affairs, which I think illustrate nicely why it seems like America is in decline and the rest of the world is catching up. Noam Chomsky has also talked about this a lot as the Unipolar Moment.

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/63394/fareed-zakaria/the-future-of-american-power

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/63397/richard-n-haass/the-age-of-nonpolarity

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    One of these days when I get some money to burn, I’m going to rent a car just to take it home and wash it.

  • Nick

    I respect Thomas Friedman.
    But the China he refers to re. pulling together + being proactive is governed by a Communist Plutocracy, not unlike the US Capitalist Plutocracy: the vast Chinese majority are under-educated + poor.

    The US is unlikely to progress unless the financial industry + other extradordinarily over-paid sectors that produce absolutely NO social value, undergo an ethical transition.

    Greed will ultimately undo the US, much as it did France, 1789-1799.

  • Jeff Kesselman

    Dee was absolutely right.

    I am 47 and in college I read Thucydides Pelopenesian war, studied teh rise and fall of the roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and the British empire.

    I have believed for 25 years that I am watching the inevitable decline of our empire. My only question has been wil lwe be Rome or Brittian.

    Alas, the sort of willful blindness and defensive self ego-stroking that Tom has called out makes us loo ka lot more like Rome…

  • Phil Freeman

    Tom, you mentioned Donnella Meadows and several green topics. Yet, you seem to espouse the idea that infinite growth is possible. How do you square your environmental concerns with your ideas on growth? Or did I misunderstand you.

    Phil Freeman
    Washburn, Wisconsin

  • cynthia

    FRIEDMAN FOR PRESIDENT! (I haven’t even heard the program yet, but should he even run he’d get my vote. Hell, I’d even volunteer!) Ooh–about to start.

  • michael..

    The (sic) No Labels Party is a Joke and is akin to the Tea-Party. Not one single Republican member in it is currently in office. I bet much like the tea party was used to goat the republicans towards the right the No Labels party will be used to goat to democrats to the right as well.

    For instances

    founding LEADERS
    Nancy Jacobson-lobbyist
    Nate Garvis-Lobbyist
    William A. Galston-Invested Think Tank (sic) Expert connected to insiders and lobbyist.

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/william-galston/79723/the-only-way-obama-can-win-in-2012

    This group is a front to give politicians a cover to cut social program, lower taxes, cut deductions on the middle-class and poor( Cause it will be argued that small business and the rich need those loop-holes to create jobs and keep them or they will moved them off-shore)

  • michael..

    As for Thomas F. on the middle-east he’s full of it and is anything but for peace in the middle-east. For anyone that has not read this from Nelson Mandela to Thomas Friedman.

    Nelson Mandela

    http://www.bintjbeil.com/E/occupation/mandella.html
    March 30, 2001

    To: Thomas L. Friedman (columnist New York Times)
    From: Nelson Mandela (former President South Africa)

    Dear Thomas,

    I know that you and I long for peace in the Middle East, but before you continue to talk about necessary conditions from an Israeli perspective, you need to know what’s on my mind. Where to begin? How about 1964. Let me quote my own words during my trial. They are true today as they were then:

    “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

    Today the world, black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future. In South Africa it has been ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. That mass campaign of defiance and other actions could only culminate in the establishment of democracy.

    Perhaps it is strange for you to observe the situation in Palestine or more specifically, the structure of political and cultural relationships between Palestinians and Israelis, as an apartheid system. This is because you incorrectly think that the problem of Palestine began in 1967. This was demonstrated in your recent column “Bush’s First Memo” in the New York Times on March 27, 2001.

    You seem to be surprised to hear that there are still problems of 1948 to be solved, the most important component of which is the right to return of Palestinian refugees.

    The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not just an issue of military occupation and Israel is not a country that was established “normally” and happened to occupy another country in 1967. Palestinians are not struggling for a “state” but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa.

    In the last few years, and especially during the reign of the Labour Party, Israel showed that it was not even willing to return what it occupied in 1967; that settlements remain, Jerusalem would be under exclusive Israeli sovereignty, and Palestinians would not have an independent state, but would be under Israeli economic domination with Israeli control of borders, land, air, water and sea.

    Israel was not thinking of a “state” but of “separation”. The value of separation is measured in terms of the ability of Israel to keep the Jewish state Jewish, and not to have a Palestinian minority that could have the opportunity to become a majority at some time in the future. If this takes place, it would force Israel to either become a secular democratic or bi-national state, or to turn into a state of apartheid not only de facto, but also de jure.

    Thomas, if you follow the polls in Israel for the last 30 or 40 years, you clearly find a vulgar racism that includes a third of the population who openly declare themselves to be racist. This racism is of the nature of “I hate Arabs” and “I wish Arabs would be dead”. If you also follow the judicial system in Israel you will see there is discrimination against
    Palestinians, and if you further consider the 1967 occupied territories you will find there are already two judicial systems in operation that represent two different approaches to human life: one for Palestinian life and the other for Jewish life. Additionally there are two different approaches to property and to land. Palestinian property is not recognised as private property because it can be confiscated.

    As to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, there is an additional factor. The so-called “Palestinian autonomous areas” are bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli apartheid system.

    The Palestinian state cannot be the by-product of the Jewish state, just in order to keep the Jewish purity of Israel. Israel’s racial discrimination is daily life of most Palestinians. Since Israel is a Jewish state, Israeli Jews are able to accrue special rights which non-Jews cannot do. Palestinian Arabs have no place in a “Jewish” state.

    Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

    The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its apartheid policies.

    Thomas, I’m not abandoning Mideast diplomacy. But I’m not going to indulge you the way your supporters do. If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you. When you figure out what you’re about, give me a call.

    Amazing how the top of the show Tom A. tries to make it that Thomas F. is chicken Little and we all have to listen yet not once commenting on his chicken little attitude on iraq and why people should still take him at face value or believe him.

  • http://artinfocus.com Michael Manhattan

    Friedman is Right Thee Chinese are using the their system correctly and have shown Tom just how competent, and very competitive they are Communist/Socialist what do we have to show? We have politicians no ‘statesman with Huge Mega million Drug lobbying, Insurance companies, poor education, lazy emigrants no on cares.
    As for a Fascist Palestinian state who needs them financing terror. Can you imagine them buying Zyclon B from Germany
    10 x more productivity Break up the Conglomerates And Use the Monoplies commision to do it!
    Freedman is The Best.

  • Eva in Boston

    Tom Friedman is good at analyzing the problem (just about anyone who travels to Europe or the fast-growing Asian countries can do that, really) — but he is a big disappointment in coming up with solutions.

    Just telling people that the US is sliding, and we should do A, B & C solves nothing. Those things that need to be done don’t get done because our government is in the grip of the oligarchic interests that have no interest in needed change. The status quo (including the endless wars) works just fine for them.

    Friedman didn’t really respond to the woman caller who challenged him on the wars issue. He seems to believe that we need to bomb people in Asia to prevent a nuclear attack. But why are we a sitting duck for a potential nuclear attack, Tom? Tell why! Could it be that we have been throwing around our imperialistic weight for too long, and made ourselves HATED in the Muslim world?

    Each week and month that we continue those insane wars makes a major pay-back to us down the road more likely.

    Also, how about telling us the whole truth about China? China is growing like crazy, and will leave us in the dust, because they don’t suffer from the delusion that the American-style “democracy” (i.e., oligarchic control of the government) works.

    The Chinese government does not allow anyone to control it. Their loyalty is only to their goal of making China succeed as a country. Our government is just a puppet of the rich.

    Partial truths will never get us where you want this country to go, Tom.

  • joshua

    HOw convenient that theu queue for a break to avoid discussing war as the downfall of America and the source of terror in the world and all America’s problems.

    This guy is a con-artist–he says we need to pay the working class as they do in China–less than 2 dollars a day. This the evidence that the fascist’s agenda–they want a peasant class and aristocrats. Tom F sees himself as an aristocrat. Well, remember what happened to the french nobles. Its coming to America soon.

    I bet there were black helos chasing Perot–he threatened the status qou.

    I support the toppling of the tyrants in Washington–democrat and Republican. I support the toppling of the fascist media-down with Friedman. I hope you never meet in a dark alley.

  • http://newyorkcity bruce joseph

    NPR and THE NEW YORK TIMES, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? have some guts. if you are going to put friedman on the page or on the air, don’t just mention his pulitzer prizes. he was the FIRST, BIG media MAJOR CHEERLEADER for the bush war in iraq and afganistan. he has never apologized or admitted fault for his incredibly bone-headed views. he has questioned the way the war was run, but not the war itself. he talks about the dire state of our economy without admitting the costs and INCREDIBLE INTERNATIONAL STIGMA that these wars have cost our country. to listen to friedman speak with such bombast about the world that he helped create with his nytimes platform is REPULSIVE. “WE NEED TO INVEST LIKE CHINA INVESTS”, but, oh thats right we can’t, BECAUSE WE HAVE DUMPED TRILLIONS INTO WARS WITH NO GOOD REASON THAT HE HELPED MAKE HAPPEN. friedman is intellectually dishonest. he says this is what we need without saying this is the place we are now, and i was the intellectual columnist that put us there. friedman should be as tough on israel as he is on obama. he should admit his INCREDIBLE STUPIDITY ON IRAQ, isreal and his heroic take GEORGE W. BE A MAN. ADMIT MISTAKES AND CORRECT THEM. FRIEDMAN FEELS FREE TO DISPARAGE OTHERS WITHOUT FEELING GUILT. HE IS READY TO BAIL ON AFGANISTAN WHILE REFUSING TO BAIL ON IRAQ. THANKS TOM, FOR USING EVERY LAST G.I. TO PROTECT ISREAL.

  • sanych

    Einstein said – “the solution has to be as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

    Tom Friedman is a great simplificator — the world is flat, subway station elevator cannot be fixed, thus America is on a decline, etc. His solutions — he blows bubbles — the world needs only so many social apps on iPhone. Labor cost is not a significant part of the product cost. Chinese goods are cheaper because of lax polution standards, draconial labor practices, etc.

    However, the key issue that he is missing is that with outsourcing of out jobs to China and India we also transfered the know-how. Getting this know-how back will be the hardest part. Without it we are doomed.

  • Marcio Silveira

    For a strong America:

    1. Impose $2 / barrel gasoline tax to fund clean energy

    2. End corn subsidies so we get leaner and healthier

  • Ralph

    Anyone who thinks we will be able to compete against China and the emerging economies by increasing our energy costs is completely delusional. We must lower our costs to better compete, not increase them. Sure, we need to invest in renewables, but right now they are very cost prohibitive. Increasing the cost of oil and coal isn’t going to do anything but raise our energy costs. The Chinese are not imposing massive additional costs on oil and coal and nuclear to make renewables more competitive. The Chinese are doing everything at once: oil, coal, nuclear, hydropower, wind, solar. I think the green movement does not have any interest in the economics of energy, only an insistence that only renewables are permitted. This approach is economic suicide.

  • http://www.bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson, Talent OR

    I’m not much of a fan of Friedman. His dismissal of one caller’s interpretation of the motives of the superrich (“I don’t buy that”) suggests to me that he’ll never see the inegalitarian divide of wealth as a serious problem. He’s too comfy.

  • William Powe

    This is the end
    Beautiful friend
    This is the end
    My only friend, the end
    Of our elaborate plans, the end
    Of everything that stands, the end
    No safety or surprise, the end
    I’ll never look into your eyes…again
    Can you picture what will be
    So limitless and free
    Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand
    In a…desperate land
    Lost in a Roman…wilderness of pain
    And all the children are insane

    The Doors said best they are just a little early,
    this Roman Horror show is exploding soon

  • ian pink

    Tom Friedman has twice in this show complained about deficient escalators as evidence of American decline. He makes millions of dollars, lives in a mansion and carts around a gut full of American excess. Maybe he should take the stairs.

  • Mark

    It’s simple and it seems to me that no one wants to acknowledge the root of the problem. Why should we as Americans have to fatten the pockets of the big man while the little man suffers. Put a cap on the income of all of our politicians, if we didn’t need to pay them millions or even billions every year for their fancy houses, don’t you think there would be more to go around? And would it not fix our problems? I believe that if some one is elected into an office they should serve the people not rob us blind. There’s no reason why being a politician should be a lucrative business. They took an oath when they were sworn in to serve the people. That’s not what they’re doing when mr governor needs a new Lexus. And there’s no amount of law making or whatever they do on capital hill that’s going to cure this. The more we pay for mr senator so in so’s awesome mansion the more we the people ” the little man ” are going to hurt. People say raise the taxes, cut spending, force people to buy insurance, and every other stupid idea they’ve had is crooked. Why should we pay the the intentional “mistakes” of our politicians, how come Thierry not being held accountable? Don’t you all see? Get your heads out of the dirt! The government all across the board should suffer just as we are! How come no one mentions that? How you like them apples!

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    People in this thread attack Friedman from the left and right and center. I tend to think part of this is he is like Sarah Palin in his ability to make the complicated look simple. A phrase from either Palin or Friedman is often designed to encapsulate a lot, to transmit a lot, and to stick.
    Propagandist? To some extent. I actually wonder how audiences all over the world react to his insights/ positions. He certainly travels, and I suspect he has a “message” encapsulated for other countries as well as our own. Maybe the home audience here is not as familiar as it might be.
    I would rather he nourish the art of encapsulation, because he is nearer to being “my” propagandist than Sarah Palin is. Much nearer.
    AND I have noticed he is over time adjusting his positions. (If you attack him for a position he held four years ago, you may find out he’s switched his stance, it seems to me.) For instance, a few years back he was proclaiming on Charlie Rose that a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine was no longer a realistic possibility because there were so many settlements making mincemeat of the putative Palestinian territories. So I guess he was at that point taking on board Nelson Mandela’s points about how can Israel get away from apartheid. I don’t read his column in the New York Times so I don’t know what his position on that is now. Posters here in this thread certainly seem to be pushing for clarification on his part.

  • http://www.dogoodgauge.org SilenceDoGoodGauge, Chesterfield, MO

    Does Tom Friedman believe in Democracy?

    A public incubator called the Do Good Gauge is developing a proposal where Democracy Rules.

    http://www.dogoodgauge.com/site/DoGoodGauge/page_contents/display/145

  • hassledloafer

    So, the Prius driving billionaire thinks we need to cut SS and he doesn’t think there is a class war going on in America. Here is a memo for Tom, and he doesn’t need to talk to a cabbie to hear it: America is almost flat. The ruling class in this country are near to destroying the middle class. Then jobs won’t need to be shipped to India as there will be workers here forced to work at Indian wage scale.

  • Rob in Seattle

    Did someone ask Friedman when we’re going to win in Iraq? Another six months, right?

  • Ezra S Abrams

    Mr Friedman said two things that I find astonishing.
    (aprox, I don’t have a transcript)
    1) We need America as a superpower, because other nations, like china, won’t do the good we do in the world; eg, china gives money and support to brutal dictators like….Saudi Arabia (I don’t think the host caught the irony here, given our huge support for S Arabia)

    2) We can have jobs in this country that pay 10X what jobs pay in china if we just innovate….I guess bicoastal flyers like Mr Friedman don’t see the 40 year history of increasing un employment and poverty in this country, since Mr Friedman hangs out only in cool hip spots like SF and NY

    Personally, I prefer a R Limbaugh; at least you know what you are getting.

  • ezra abrams

    To all those like me who don’t like Friedman:
    His first big book, on the civil war in Lebanon, had some really funny, good stuff.
    Like, in the middle of the civil war, with gangs of AK47 armed thugs everywhere, someone takes him to a luxury beach resort.
    Friedman is astounded – he asks the manager, in the middle of this civil war, how do you keep this gorgeous luxury hotel open?
    The manager says, we have security.
    Friedman says, what do you mean by that
    Manager: Lets say a couple of jeeps full of guys carrying submachine guns show up. We can handle that, no problem……

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Ezra, I am wondering if Friedman’s success turned into a liability. When his reputation did not precede him, the owner of a small inn could enjoy all of Friedman’s good qualities and not worry about his ability to turn a spicy give-and-take into fodder for a best-selling book. Nowadays, I expect even a non-English-speaking, non-internet-connected ingenue in Lebanon or in the Afghan highlands would sense this man’s stature, sense it by using that human gene that recognizes a man who thinks he has a certain authority in domains beyond our ken. And so the access Friedman once enjoyed would shift. He would have more access in some places, less in others. He is probably tilted to look to confirm various conclusions he has already drawn, for example.

  • Matt

    So, we should fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but just do them the inexpensive, efficient, low impact way? Maybe if Friedman comes up with a cutesy term for such a war, it’d be more likely to happen.

  • Norm Clarke

    Mr. Friedman’s wars and refusual address the inevitable disintegration of the American empire are what will lead to America’s downfall. The economic burden of maintaining military dominace throughout the world, combined with the suppression and loss of liberity required to maintain such a military state are not sustainable. Instead of spending on infrastructure, education, and the well being of our populace, we spend a trillion dollars per year on the defense establishment. It makes Mre Friedman’s employers and their associates rich but it is bankrupting the othe 98 percent.

  • anomymous

    We should stop listening to these “best selling” authors, pundits, and idiot what nots. They really don’t know anything. Practice pragmatic common sense. If you blow up a lot of expensive machinery in a war, someone will have to pay for it. If you kill people, their friends and relatives are going to be very very pissed off. If you let rich corporations donate to campaigns, you will get a government that doesn’t pay much attention to anybody but rich corporations. It isn’t very complicated. Stop talking and follow your common sense.

    “Best selling” are appealing to your emotional unconscious brain to get you stirred up and glued to the TV or their columns. They make money that way. Foo on them.

  • a democrat

    I couldn’t agree more with Michael and many others above who called this segment with Tom friedman –
    a neocon spin hour…

    Many people on the left are still looking to rein in
    this propagandist at the New York Times for cheering leading on the Bush Administration’s misled war on
    Iraq and then he had the gall to say the failure to
    locate WMDs just didn’t matter…..

    What Tom Ashbrook sees in this man is so difficult
    to see. I have been reading friedman’s columns on
    and off for 20 yrs and I am sick he is still on the staff of the New York Times.

    He shows no moral leadership in his columns as he
    recently suggested the Israelis and Palestinians
    “just knock it off”. friewdman made no acknowledge-
    ment that Israel is the savage aggressor illegally using US weapons and aid in violation of Federal Laws to suppress and deny the Palestinian people their sovereign and human rights….

    Indeed, Tom Friedman doesn’t even reflect the trad-
    ition wisdom about violence found in the Two Cats
    of Kilkenny as he recently said the Israelis and
    Palestinians should fight it….Imagine, suggest-
    ing the defenseless Palestinians fight it out with
    the bullies and murderers in the Israeli Army…..

    Here is that little bit of traditional wisdom that
    escapes Tom friedman daily (below) and now he suggest the US get tough…

    Well, I heard the greatest answer I believe against being a superpower from Tom’s Ashbrook’s visit to
    China when he asked this rather quiet and unassuming Chinese girl about China being a power challeged by the superpower of the US. She replied “Why be a superpower?
    Why can’t the US be a power? ”

    Two cats of Kilkenny

    There once were two cats of Kilkenny
    Each thought there was one cat too many
    So they fought and they fit
    And they scratched and they bit
    ‘Til (excepting their nails
    And the tips of their tails)
    Instead of two cats there weren’t any!

  • a democrat

    addendum:

    Here is JFK advising against an American solution
    to evertything….

    “…we must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient–that we are only six percent of the world’s population–that we cannot impose our will upon the other ninety-four percent of mankind–that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity–and that therefore there cannot he an American solution to every world problem.”

    However, having noted the above it must be said the
    US lopsided support and its arming of Israel in vio-
    lation of international law and Federal law is the route cause of that country’s continued conflict
    there….

    As Jimmy Carter wrote a few years ago in 2007 about
    Gaza –the Bush administrations sought to divide
    and escalate the tensions in Gaza. What a criminal
    mindset and oligarchy that is driving US Foreign
    policy today and we must rein in this lawlessness.
    http://www.boston.com/news/world/europe/articles/2007/06/20/carter_says_us_seeks_to_cause_division/

  • a democrat

    The Root of the Middle East conflict…..
    by writer and author John Spritler

    http://spritzlerj.blogspot.com/2010/06/here-are-notes-i-used-for-my-talk-june.html

  • Slipstream

    Wow, Tom Friedman does seem to generate a lot of heated debate. Here he seems to be echoing the statements of my favorite prophet of doom, James Howard Kunstler (whom I first came across on this program), but doing so in a more centrist and upbeat manner. Btw, I dont think China is who we should be admiring and emulating. They are putting up convention centers in 8 months on the backs of very poor and hard-working laborers. They have a lot of them! But what they dont have is a lot of natural resources.

    Third parties, rational approaches, it has been tried before. Unfortunately large sections of America are under the sway of the liars and demagogs that make up the far right of the political spectrum. It has been known since the early 1970s that we needed to address our long-term energy needs, and has it been done? People like Ronald Reagan, one of our worst presidents, made sure that it wasn’t. We are heading for more hard times. The only thing I can picture stopping that is some new energy technology, but since the human race has multiplied in an out-of-control manner, that would probably result in the trashing of the planet. I say start working on green energy ASAP, and begin to put limits on how many children people can have. The time for that has arrived.

  • Charles Varani

    Now that billionaire Tom Friedman has been on advocating cuts to Social Security, how about having William Greider on to tell the truth about Social Security, and about the lies our media elites, like Friedman, are spreading.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

Sep 1, 2014
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

One outspoken fan’s reluctant manifesto against football, and the big push to reform the game.

RECENT
SHOWS
Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

 
Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

More »
Comment
 
Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

More »
Comment
 
Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

More »
1 Comment