• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Friedman falls flat

Thomas Friedman clearly knows what this country needs to do. But foolish Republicans just don't understand the way the world has changed:

The G.O.P. used to be the party of business. Well, to compete and win in a globalized world, no one needs the burden of health insurance shifted from business to government more than American business. No one needs immigration reform — so the world's best brainpower can come here without restrictions — more than American business. No one needs a push for clean-tech — the world's next great global manufacturing industry — more than American business. Yet the G.O.P. today resists national health care, immigration reform and wants to just drill, baby, drill.

This attitude, of course, means we have a "one-party democracy," because "on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing." And that is even worse than having a "one-party autocracy."

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.

The only problem with an autocracy is that there is no guarantee it will impose "politically difficult but critically important policies," even if it is led by a "reasonably enlightened group of people," because you know, it is an autocracy, and the rulers can do whatever the hell they want to. And even if they do what they think is enlightened, there's no reason to believe they will be right and/or that the great unwashed will agree, which is how we get into the neat stuff about the "informed consent of the government in a democratic republic," and that there is pretty much the history of the world.

I don't know if that column is the scariest I've read in the last year or the dumbest. Maybe both.


Wed, 09/09/2009 - 12:53pm

When I read this coming from Friedman, I can't help but think that what he really has in mind is that if Thomas Friedman ruled the world, things would be a whole lot better.

Friedman lost me with his series of apologetic columns about the Iraq War which usually ran along the lines of "If the Bush administration acts in a way that's entirely inconsistent with the way it has acted in the past, this war could be a success and a really good thing."