Bandwagon “Journalism”

Everybody stop. Friedman has finally figured out the world’s problems. Thomas Friedman makes me sick. The NYT’s poster-boy for neoliberal Globalization is now deriding the inherent flaws and systemic defects of the neoclassical “growth” model that has dominated social and economic policy planning for decades. Ecological Economics, of the type put forth by Fritz Schumacher nearly forty years ago in his monumental Small is Beautiful, more important now than ever, is finally penetrating the mainstream. Its ascendancy now seems inevitable,  and surely welcome. But to hear Tom Friedman, who for the last decade has been parading around the world praising the virtues of the global economy, acting as a mouthpiece for the movement for global corporate hegemony, now blast the neoliberal paradigm for it’s gross excesses is painful. The hypocrisy is glaringly obvious. Friedman has made a career out of taking obvious, commonplace and uncontroversial ideas, filtering them through his over-simplified, hokey delivery style, and passing them off as his own profound revelations. The world is not a place of limitless resources? Really? Thanks, Tom. The neoclassical growth model fails to differentiate between man-made and natural capital? The planet has now reached its ecological capacity? It’s unsustainable for pointless consumer products to travel thousands of miles, consume tons of fossil fuels, and destroy ecosystems along the way? Before they even reach American markets? Where would the world be without the epiphanous wisdom and insights of Tom Friedman? Of course, it’s not a bad thing that readers of the NYT and consumers of mainstream media in general are getting exposed to alternative modes of thinking about what a desirable economy and society constitute.  Better this than the standard din of limitless growth, expansion, and consumption that spew from our nation’s media and newspapers. The problem is that Friedman creates the illusion of dissent, criticism, and profundity, as if he resides outside of the Establishment, and as if he hasn’t been one of the most vocal proponents of the engine of suicide called the global economy. It smothers the reality that for decades, thoughtful people have been warning us of the inevitable collision course that the neoclassical paradigm has set us on, and that these voices have been systematically marginalized by the leaders of corporatist crusade and their minions in Washington and our national media outlets.  If Friedman had written his March 10 piece, say, ten years ago, it would have been fresh, relevant, insightful.  But instead, Friedman exposes himself for what he is, a hack pundit scrambling to catch up with the curve, finally conceding what has been well-articulated for years by more thouhgtful and sincere observers.

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One Response to “Bandwagon “Journalism””

  1. Bravo, my friend on defining Friedman. I recently read “Creative Capitalism” by Michael Kinsley (it’s a collection of conversations with the world’s “top” economists on Bill Gates idea of creative capitalism to solve the world’s problems). In the appendix, Kinsley placed an article from Friedman published back in the 70s or 80s that basically said companies should never act on anything other than increasing shareholder’s wealth- basically the standard free economy answer. All of the world’s top economists gloated over how great Friedman’s article is and will never die.

    Only two women in the book actually mention ecological economics and the new L3C (low-profit limited liability company) which is a hybrid for and not for profit company. Thanks for the entertaining post.

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