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Thomas Friedman’s Bargain-Basement Punditry


Thomas Friedman’s Bargain-Basement Punditry

Dean Baker

Thomas Friedman really is a gift to the world. As a long-established New York Times columnist and author of many widely touted books, he is a great source of insight into establishment thinking. He comes through brilliantly in his column today.


As Jane Mayer's book, "Dark Money" helps to explain, plenty of writers come by their bi-lines not due to supreme talent but more due to their willingness to write copy that accords with their benefactors' wishes.

Thomas Friedman more than qualifies.

In fact, it wasn't long ago that NSA and CIA money went out to those writers who could pen a tale that effectively demonized the enemy du jour. (Similar programs are no doubt underway--think "Zero Dark Thirty" and "American Sniper".)

Take this statement:

"Of course, the whole idea that we needed to reduce the deficit in an economy that was and is still well below its full employment level of output is wrong."

I think reducing the deficit is a GOOD idea; but I think it should be reduced from the following:

  1. Cutting out Insurance brokers and cutting right to the Single Payer Chase
  2. Cutting the military budget by 80%
  3. Cutting ANY offshore tax havens. If a company wishes to do business in the U.S., holds subsidiaries here, or benefits from this nation's MIC or infrastructure, it pays up.
  4. A tax on Wall St. transactions

The problem is that the "cut the debt/deficit" ITEM is ONLY uttered in relation to also cutting "entitlement" programs like Social Security. And this logic comes straight from the think tanks funded by ALEC, the Chambers of Commerce, the Koch Brothers and other millionaires and billionaires whose idea of morality (and economics) simulates that of the late Ebenezer Scrooge.

They do NOT want to share. They want it all. And in the same way that the Central European bankers set Greece up for a fall and then blamed them for it, when the whole fiscal debacle was engineered; the U.S. rich bastards likewise blame the poor while STEALING their labor and REDUCING the worth of their capital and assets.

I had a small savings in an IRA that I inherited. The paperwork guaranteed 6% interest. Last year when I asked how much interest had been applied, I was told ZERO. That interest would be applied every 2 years. Well, that's now and guess what I was told? NO interest because the market didn't do well. And if I cash out, they take 10%. It's they hold YOUR money, they don't pay ANY interest (even though the paperwork obligates them to do so... and since this is a relatively small amount, it's not worth my seeking an attorney); and then they eke out their 10% regardless.

I shared the above because it's today's "business model." Of course, people are being jailed for an incapacity to pay bills and traffic fines and then CHARGED for the jail time and court processing. Many states can't afford public defenders so people are being asked to pay for that; and many more are having their homes foreclosed out from under them. These homes then go to the banks who were bailed out by us, the workers/tax payers.

What SCAM hasn't been legalized in this Homeland In-Security State with every law inverted against its intended meaning and purposes?


Bravo. I'm glad that you write.

Thank you.


Great post.

No, they do NOT want to share. It reminds me of another time when the wealthy weren't the 1% and understood the importance of 'sharing'. And they shared because they knew that w/o a vibrant middle-class there would be very little to share. They always took a bigger piece of the pie but left my father's generation a fair piece of the pie to enable them and their families a decent standard of living and future opportunities. And it worked quite well. Not for all but for most.

Today sharing is not even part of the conversation. All productivity gains these past three decades have wound up in the hands of the wealthy. And in the last six years America has experienced the greatest transfer of wealth from the middle-class to the wealthy in its history.

And all I really wanted, knowing I would never again see the money I lost when the bubble burst, was to at least see the bastards go to jail. But NO, it was as if the greatest financial fraud in our history never happened.


What I find interesting is that as they attack those without for falling prey to "envy" because others might have more , they embrace the "virtue" that greed is good.

I am sorry but I can not ever accept the premise that a person who is hungry or has children that are hungry is envious of people that have so much they can throw away more then that poor person can hope to earn in a year AND get that poor person thrown in prison if he rummages in the dumpster for the stuff that Rich guy throws away. He is just hungry.

Their mindset (that of the rich) makes me ill. They are an alien species..


In a just world a column and a comment like this would be published next to a Friedman column every time. Then the nation could begin to wake up.


If his wife did not inherit the mega mall properties of her parents, where would this buffoon be? Writing copy in some Israeli newspaper, perhaps.


Concise, precise, great comments, SR.


I think I heard the following on Democracy Now today (I may be wrong. I am "suffering" from an information overload at the moment.)

In any case it was a story about a man arrested for literally stealing about $5.00 worth of food. He was THAT hungry. And the judge let him off citing something along the lines of hunger trumping all other "laws." It was pretty cool... and surely a harbinger of things to come!

"They are an alien species..."

Earlier today I was thinking about the Christians who note that some kind of off-world being (angels or otherwise) mated with earth's children several thousand years ago. David Icke believes that one dominant group had characteristics we associate with cold-blooded reptiles. He makes a solid case for the idea of royal blood lines down to their strange rituals at places like Bohemian Grove and the high levels of pedophilia that occur among these bastions of the very rich.

Psychology uses the term sociopath, but it could well relate to a particular lineage that IS NOT quite human.

I couldn't even get through the piece (today) on Yemen. The suffering screams off the page. I am so acutely aware of the refugees, war-wounded, orphaned children, and all the regions being left to rot with things like radiation poisoning (Fukushima). When one puts these items together, it seems that leaders truly ARE not human... for they continue on in the very policies that are multiplying these GREAT EVILS.


Thank you so much for this rich compliment. Often I feel like I am screaming into an endless tunnel.

For 30 years I tried to make a difference writing children's books that relayed the really important timeless (spiritual & ecological) lessons. And I never found a publisher. So I began to self-publish.

For 20 years I've written movie scripts knowing that film is one of the most powerful mediums for moving minds, hearts, and souls. Here, too, I've endured years of rejections of my best manuscripts. So again, I began to convert the scripts to novellas and self-publish.

There really ARE gatekeepers. It's true that a small number of highly controversial, intelligent, spiritual, and far-thinking voices DO get out. But there should be much more of them.

I've shared this before... when I attended a script writing seminar in Key West one of its foremost speakers was William Goldman. He's written significant scripts like "All The President's Men." He was so cynical and he told a packed audience that we had better odds of being hit by lightning than having our scripts read in Hollywood.

He added that the average movie script was designed for the teenage boy who wanted to get laid on a Friday night.

Media is very powerful. I got the best writing job of my life based on a freelance article I wrote on the subject of media as magic mirror to the collective (human) consciousness.

The preponderance of films stress fortuitous violence and many seem like dressed up advertisements for guns or more "advanced" weapons.

In any case, I thank you.

Years ago someone gave me a handmade greeting card of an old-fashioned typewriter. Inside it said, "Write on."



Thank you. I'm glad what I had to say resonated.