Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Thomas Friedman

Let me tee up Thomas Friedman's column today, entitled "Our One Party Democracy":
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. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste.
Yes, you read that correctly: China's autocracy is preferable to the current U.S. government. because Republicans won't do what President Obama says. Rather than go into just how profoundly wrongheaded this is, I'll outsource commentary on Friedman's column and suggest you go read Will Wilkinson, Jonah Goldberg and Matt Welch.

I read The Lexus and the Olive Tree and thought it was pretty decent, if at times aggravatingly childish with constant analogies made between the global economy and computer hardware. The World is Flat had some fun anecdotes but made a pretty obvious point and could have been published as a pamphlet without the reader being any less informed (although this is true of many books).

The signal to noise ratio of Friedman's columns meanwhile, has become such that I have pretty much stopped reading him. Beyond the lack of any real insight, his mind-numbing drumbeat on the virtues of "E.T." -- renewable energy technologies -- betrays a real arrogance, for it both implies that Friedman knows the future and American businesses are too stupid to seize this golden opportunity without government prodding.

With this latest column his march to irrelevance has taken a giant step forward.

1 comment:

Bret said...

im with you on this one. of the 20 silliest things ive ever heard in my life, that column has about 13 of them.