If Thomas Friedman went stark raving mad, how would anyone tell? The man has written an entire book dedicated to the thesis that the earth is flat and responds to every major event by making up more words and trying to tie them into his globalized flat earth theory. No matter what happens, Friedman shoves into his feeder tube and out comes his randomly generated understanding of the universe.
But this time the randomness is truly random. The screws have come loose. The corks have popped. The springs are all over the place and Friedman is no longer just a self-parody, the wheels have come off whatever ramshackle bus there was.
Thomas Friedman starts out with the Boston Marathon, but he has nothing to say about it. He puts pedal to metal and rolls on straight to praising America’s diversity. But he can’t think of anything to say about that either. Only two paragraphs in and he’s mumbling something about the budget.
Rebuilding our strength has to start with healing our economy. In that regard, it feels as if our budget drama has dragged on for so long that it has not only been drained of all emotional energy but nobody even remembers the plot anymore. It’s worth recalling: What are we trying to do?
A better question is what is Thomas Friedman trying to do. What is he even talking about?
We need to keep investing in the engines of our growth — infrastructure, government-financed research, education, immigration and regulations that incentivize risk-taking but prevent recklessness. We need to reform Social Security and Medicare so they can support all the baby boomers about to retire. And we need to raise more revenues, in the least painful way possible, because we can’t just cut everything.
Thomas Friedman has never grown anything except a mustache and it shows. He tries to make up for this by using “incentivize” because he hears that’s what business people do. But all he’s doing is throwing out hollow cliches.
We must invest in the engines of our growth– homeless people, moonshine whiskey, space stations and universal kindergarten. It makes about as much sense as what Friedman just said.
We need a more “radical center” — one much more willing to suggest radically new ideas to raise revenues, not the “split-the-difference-between-the-same-old-options center.”
Only Thomas Friedman could use the term “radical center” without being struck on the head by his own stupidity.
And the best place to start is with a carbon tax.
Either that or mass suicide.
A phased-in carbon tax of $20 to $25 a ton could raise around $1 trillion over 10 years, as we each pay a few more dimes and quarters for every gallon of gasoline or hour of electricity. With that new revenue stream, we’d have so many more options.
Like the option to put half the country out of work. The option to completely price cars out of the range of working class people. Like the option to raise the price of absolutely anything that requires electricity or is delivered by fuel powered vehicles.
But with the new revenue stream, we could spend more money on food stamps and unemployment created by the carbon tax.
a carbon tax would enable a radical grand bargain that would be more fiscally responsible for the long run and more stimulative in the short run, paving the way to more sustainable growth.
Sure, just look at how well the seniors in the UK freezing in their homes have been cushioned from energy poverty.
I know: If we can’t get some simple gun control, how do we get a carbon tax to pay for all of this? With both, you have to try and keep trying, until the unimaginable becomes the inevitable.
The difference between Thomas Friedman and the cult leader waiting for the UFO is that the cult leader has some grasp of reality. Friedman does not. He blends the insipid treacle of a motivational speaker with a completely delusional worldview that he makes up as he goes along bolstered by politician style anecdotes of his world travels.
I hope the president swings for the fences. It’s the only way to revive the country and a moribund Republican Party… Maybe only big ideas from President Obama can give birth to New Republicans — and the revival of the country.
I don’t think Friedman understands what he’s saying here. Is he really proposing that an insane Carbon Tax proposal from Obama could finally wire up the Republican Party so much in outrage that it makes a complete comeback?
It’s no more insane than every other thing that Friedman just proposed.
No wait, I’ve made a terrible mistake. Friedman actually went insane two years ago.
The smart thing for us to do right now is to impose a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax, to be phased in at 5 cents a month beginning in 2012, with all the money going to pay down the deficit. Legislating a higher energy price today that takes effect in the future, notes the Princeton economist Alan Blinder, would trigger a shift in buying and investment well before the tax kicks in. With one little gasoline tax, we can make ourselves more economically and strategically secure, help sell more Chevy Volts and free ourselves to openly push for democratic values in the Middle East without worrying anymore that it will harm our oil interests.
Just think. We’ll make driving unaffordable, sell more Chevy Volts to government bureaucrats and let the Muslim Brotherhood take over the Middle East.
It’s a plan so crazy that it just might work. But it didn’t.