Florida Conservative

A Conservative Take on Florida and U.S. Politics

Journalistic Qualifications – Part II

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Many Americans recognize the name of Thomas Friedman, an American journalist and three-time winner of the Pulitzer prize.  Very few realize that he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about most of the time.  In a recent New York Times article, Mr. Friedman makes a number of comically incorrect assessments of public opinion, some of which are debunked below:

1) “I confess, I find it dispiriting to read the polls and see candidates, mostly Republicans, leading in various midterm races while promoting many of the very same ideas that got us into this mess.”  Mr. Friedman is an eloquent writer, but his understanding of causation and correlation needs some work.  First, what ideas got us into this mess?  Friedman blames the economic downturn on tax cuts, attempts to reduce government spending, and the lack of financial regulation.  That’s the equivalent of knowing that taller people weigh more and concluding that if you want to get taller, you have to gain weight.  It’s absurd!!!

The truth about the economic mess is that Congress has spent every dime available for many years.  The media attributes the most recent surplusses to President Clinton, but they were actually the work of Republican Congresses.  If you get used to spending a certain amount of money each year and then lose some of your income (via lower taxes during the recession), what happens?  Mr. Friedman is apparently unaware that deficits would result.  Further, the “failed practices” of recent years are actually just the desire for everyone to own a home.  The American Dream has thus changed from “work hard to achieve your goals” to “buy a house, regardless of your socio-economic status.”

2) “Let’s have more tax cuts, unlinked to any specific spending cuts and while we’re still fighting two wars — because that worked so well during the Bush years to make our economy strong and our deficit small.”  Fact #1 – The so-called “Bush” tax cuts helped the economy recover after 9/11.  Fact #2 – It’s pretty tough to control when countries go to war unless you’re the aggressor.  Fact #3 – The current Democratic President and Congress have enjoyed two years to fix things.  How long would they like before we can expect some improvement?

3) “Let’s immediately cut government spending, instead of phasing cuts in gradually, while we’re still mired in a recession — because that worked so well in the Great Depression.”  Gradual cuts make complete sense to me, as long as there are actual cuts.  By the way, at no point in US History has government spending as a % of GDP eclipsed the Great Depression.  My guess is that making fundamental changes sooner would have drastically shortened the Great Depression.  Maybe Steinbeck wouldn’t have had anything to write about…

4) “Let’s roll back financial regulation — because we’ve learned from experience that Wall Street can police itself and average Americans will never have to bail it out.”  It sounds good to say that more regulation will fix banks’ problems, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Banks must operate within the rules set by TWENTY-NINE different federal agencies.  They can’t even begin to figure out the rules by which they should operate.  Simplifying the rules and creating ONE oversight board for the entire financial industry will do more than multiple 1,000+ page bills signed into law.

Read Mr. Friedman’s entire article in the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/27/opinion/27friedman.html?_r=1

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Written by floridaconservative

October 27, 2010 at 1:14 PM

Posted in Recession

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