So here I am, listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas Album
and browsing memeorandum when I come across this giant chunk of silliness from Thomas Friedman. Read the whole thing if you like, but I just want to swoop in and knock down a few low-hanging fruit.
First, it’s patently ridiculous to say that Chinese people are “living so much better than us”. I can’t recall the last time a shoddily-made school collapsed because the corrupt tyrants running the country skimped on building materials because it was only a school for peasants. I’ve never seen an American city’s government making its population scrub the roads with toothbrushes while wearing full protective gear because the pollution was so bad. I’ve never seen a cloud of noxious fumes that was visible via satellite drifting from American toward one of our neighbors. But perhaps I’ve missed a few things. Friedman makes his comparison based on two things: he didn’t get a free luggage cart at Kennedy Airport (an airport which is, by the way, dominated by a sclerotic government bureaucracy and a horde of greedy labor unions); and he made a nice, clear call on a cell phone stuffed full of technology stolen from American entrepreneurs. It’s easy to build great tech when you can just sit back and steal whatever product reaches the top of the heap. It’s doubly easy to build and operate an efficient airport when you use slave labor and dont’ have to worry about things like labor unions.
Second, Friedman seriously thinks that our government can spend a billion dollars and make sure that every dollar is “spent wisely”. Further, he believes that Barack Obama, the guy who flushed away millions of dollars on the only executive job he’s ever held in his life, is the guy to do it. You can stop laughing now; he’s serious. Our government, which is the poster child for waste and corruption, is suddenly going to spend every single dollar “wisely” and won’t divert any to pork even though Senator Barack Obama was one of the kings of pork and his party actually voted against diverting money allocated to pork to infrastructure earlier this year.
Friedman believes that America is full of idiots (really, he used the phrase “Dumb as we wanna be”) but I’m not inclined to credit him with much in the way of smarts. He misses so much in his haste to stick his nose up China’s hindquarters that he honestly believes that our government can do something it has never done and that China is something far more than it is. The answer to any problems America might have is not to be more like China but without all that pesky censorship and tyranny and stuff. You know, the stuff that actually makes China the economic dynamo it is. It’s painfully easy to focus a slave economy toward huge amounts of growth and monuments to government goodness, like airports and stealing every single bit of technology you can find. But it doesn’t last.
If Friedman would just get his nose out of China’s behind, he’d see that their system is the one that has a limited shelf-life and ours the one that has been innovating and leading the world for over two centuries. China is still sniffing our hind parts and they can’t steal enough tech to catch us before their own overworked, underpaid, oppressed population starts forcibly demanding a cut of the riches that the tyrants in Beijing have been raking in for the past few years. Hopefully, Friedman won’t be there when it happens. As I recall my history, Chinese revolutions are notoriously hard on foreigners.