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October 31, 2010

Tom Friedman Almost Writes A Good Column But Can't Take It To The Finish

I don't know why but I like picking on Friedman so much. I guess it's because it's like watching a big budget movie that just stinks. You think, "if they let that guy make that movie, maybe someday I can make one. I couldn't do any worse."

Friedman is the kind of guy who often comes so close to making a valid point and then falls just short or his column is just a steaming pile of idiocy because he falls in love with a few stock ideas (China will rule all! The Saudis are the key to Mideast peace!).

Today he turns in one of the former columns. He comes so close to getting the importance of India, why they are a rising power and then... dreck.

India and America are both democracies, a top Indian official explained to me, but emotionally they are now ships passing in the night. Because today the poorest Indian maid believes that if she can just save a few dollars to get her kid English lessons, that kid will have a better life than she does. So she is an optimist. “But the guy in Kansas,” he added, “who today is enjoying a better life than that maid, is worried that he can’t pass it on to his kids. So he’s a pessimist.”

Yes, when America lapses into a bad mood, everyone notices. After asking for an explanation of the Tea Party’s politics, Gupta remarked: “We have moved away from a politics of grievance to a politics of aspiration. Where is the American dream? Where is the optimism?”

Wait, what? A column on India's surge on the global stage ends with a shot at the tea party? And of course it misses the reality of the tea party movement by about as much as possible (nothing new for Tom).

Sorry Tom but you beloved Obama is the one saying the America will have to do with less in the future, appointed anti-prosperity advisers and implemented economy killing policies to ensure he was right.

The tea party is about empowering individuals to do all the wonderful things that mother India dreams for her kids too. We used to do that here (and honestly, still do) but decades of reckless government spending and borrowing (by both parties) has reached the end of the line. We either pull back now and rebuild or we try give up hope, suck out the last few drops from the bottle and ride it out to hell.

Yes, there is a lot of anger from the tea party and Americans in general but it's because something has been stolen from them, something very important...the ability to organize our lives with the minimum amount of government support and control. When you lose something of value and want it back from those who took it, anger is an appropriate response.

Anger isn't the opposite of optimism, in fact they can be quite complimentary. If you are angry that your future isn't bright but that if things change it can be, that's healthly anger. The anger of the tea party isn't of paralyzing frustration but is motivational and at it's core optimistic that things are set back to right, the future will be bright.

As for the rest of the column, I really wish Friedman and other China lovers would pay more attention to India. Yes, they are an economic competitor but they are the kind we can deal with and they simply don't pose the security/military threat China does. We should be working with them as much as possible. Free nations tend to find ways to do things that benefit them equally in economic terms. With China, all economic opportunities are filtered through and distorted by the larger security concerns.

In the long run, I think India is a better bet over China. Economic and political freedom are messy (and lord knows Tom hates messy) but they are the only proven winners over the long term.

The tea party wants to restore economic liberty to this country. What could be more optimistic than that?

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posted by DrewM. at 01:00 PM

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