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I don't get why Tom Friedman, a smart man, continues to write such stupid
recommendations.  How can everybody become "above average"?  Doesn't he know
how tests - like the IQ test - are normed? There's no such thing as everyone
on the planet becoming IQ 140, or SAT 800.  People are people. We haven't
evolved into super-hard-working, super-smart, super-humans, and we're not
going to anytime soon.

Second, in his desire to have a globalized planet in which everybody has a
PhD, everybody is a scientist AND an entrepreneur, everybody lives like he
does -- on a million or more a year, that is, in the kind of utter luxury
that requires vast resource consumption AND POLLUTION to maintain --
Friedman becomes a kind of Marie Antoinette to the indolent aristocrats of
corporate capitalism and their captive governments.  Instead of analyzing
the problem of a few humans taking most of everything from the other 6
billion, and a single species taking most of everything from the planet --
and its, and our own future -- he says, HEY, LET THEM GET GRADUATE DEGREES!


Yeah right.  In short, his analysis, so far as I can see, continues to
ignore (a) declining ecological health and productivity (so far as most
non-human environmental resources and species go), (b) unchecked increasing
human population, and (c) the fact that capitalism is a ponzi scheme, a
means of transferring wealth upward in exchange for promises that the poor
will get theirs as soon as we either conquer another country, enslave
another people, exterminate another species, or tap another new resource.
What happens when all the resources are drained dry? All the species are
exterminated or only a few in zoos? (See: Siege of Sarajevo.)  Most of the
humans are down to the lowest level of bare existence, the lowest wage, or
no wage? (See: Internships. See: Adjunct teaching jobs, post-docs, see:
college-educated taxi drivers. And bloggers.)

In one word, the problem is sustainability.  You cannot grow humans forever,
along with their economic takings from the planet, while simultaneously
trying to have all of them live like the few who through luck, gender, race,
and aggression have taken most of the surplus.  Friedman keeps trying to
rearrange those deck chairs...

I saw one comment that seems to see past all the false assumptions that
Friedman and most of his well-off, pro-capitalist, anti-environmentalist are
making in their hegemonic desire to deny reality, keep their luxury, yet
somehow promise improvement for the rest.
I'm pasting it in below.

What do you think?  I agree with the commenter that media and advertising -
not to mention politicians and the rich - who continuously flaunt the
lifestyles available (or as Friedman calls it, "accessible") only to a few
is fueling the anger of many.  But is Marx the best lens for analysis?  What
DID Marx think all the people freed from wage-labor tyranny by technology
were going to live on, buy their food with, etc.??  (I am always confused
when I try to apply Marx's general theory to the pragmatic details!)

*-------------
10<http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/opinion/sunday/Friedman-a-theory-of-everyting-sort-of.html?permid=10#comment10>
.*
 *szel*
*Media, PA*
*August 14th, 2011  7:04 am*
 *
There is another wide-angle perspective on this.

Capitalism, according to young Karl Marx, held out the promise of perfecting
industrial processes to such a powerful degree that human beings would no
longer be subject to soul-killing and body-crushing labor. Instead, people
would be liberated to pursue their happiness as human beings and not as
machine-tenders and servants to profits.

William Morris' "News from Nowhere" is the best evocation of this lovely
notion, but John Ruskin and other forward (and backward) looking 19th
century visionaries agreed. The "Small is Beautiful" movement of the 1960s
and 1970s followed this path of a human economics.

Instead, we have post-industrial productivity that requires fewer hands,
minds, and nervous systems to serve it. Those who cannot make the ultimate
sacrifice of their imaginations and their freedom, who cannot sit from hours
on end in front of a brilliant screen of data, who cannot give away their
compassionate natures, their hearts, to the beast, who cannot embrace
Mammon, have no place in our economies.

The problem is accentuated when the goods of the economy are dangled before
the angry eyes of those left behind. Perhaps we need advertising channels
that only the employed can view.

Who would have thought that an economy that has no interest in human values
would have produced such anger and resentment, such helpless madness in the
face of history turned against increasingly large segments of the
population?

Mr. Friedman urges that applicants need to shape themselves more
emphatically to fit the mold currently required by the production process.
Applicants need to be available at all hours, be perfect in their math
scores, be serviceable to the needs of their corporation, pray to the God of
economy with all their hearts and souls, and never stray from the productive
path.

Is that what you wanted, Mr. Friedman? Is that what you want for your
children and grandchildren?*
----------------------

On Sun, Aug 14, 2011 at 8:58 AM, S E Anderson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> **A Theory of Everything (Sort of)** Published: August 13, 2011** By THOMAS
> L. FRIEDMAN<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/thomaslfriedman/index.html?inline=nyt-per>
> **
>
>    - *LONDON burns. The Arab Spring triggers popular rebellions against
>    autocrats across the Arab world. The Israeli Summer brings 250,000 Israelis
>    into the streets, protesting the lack of affordable housing and the way
>    their country is now dominated by an oligopoly of crony capitalists. From
>    Athens to Barcelona, European town squares are being taken over by young
>    people railing against unemployment and the injustice of yawning income
>    gaps, while the angry Tea Party emerges from nowhere and sets American
>    politics on its head.*
>
>   Thomas Fuchs
>
> *<<**Why now? It starts with the fact that globalization and the
> information technology revolution have gone to a whole new level. Thanks to
> cloud computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook,
> Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones,
> the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected.*
> *
> *
> *This is the single most important trend in the world today. And it is a
> critical reason why, to get into the middle class now, you have to study
> harder, work smarter and adapt quicker than ever before. All this technology
> and globalization are eliminating more and more “routine” work — the sort of
> work that once sustained a lot of middle-class lifestyles.**>>*
>
> What’s going on here?
>
> There are multiple and different reasons for these explosions, but to the
> extent they might have a common denominator I think it can be found in one
> of the slogans of Israel’s middle-class uprising: “We are fighting for an
> accessible future.” Across the world, a lot of middle- and
> lower-middle-class people now feel that the “future” is out of their grasp,
> and they are letting their leaders know it.
>
> Why now? It starts with the fact that globalization and the information
> technology revolution have gone to a whole new level. Thanks to cloud
> computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook, Google,
> LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones, the
> world has gone from connected to hyper-connected.
>
> This is the single most important trend in the world today. And it is a
> critical reason why, to get into the middle class now, you have to study
> harder, work smarter and adapt quicker than ever before. All this technology
> and globalization are eliminating more and more “routine” work — the sort of
> work that once sustained a lot of middle-class lifestyles.
>
> The merger of globalization and I.T. is driving huge productivity gains,
> especially in recessionary times, where employers are finding it easier,
> cheaper and more necessary than ever to replace labor with machines,
> computers, robots and talented foreign workers. It used to be that only
> cheap foreign manual labor was easily available; now cheap foreign genius is
> easily available. This explains why corporations are getting richer and
> middle-skilled workers poorer. Good jobs do exist, but they require more
> education or technical skills. Unemployment today still remains relatively
> low for people with college degrees. But to get one of those degrees and to
> leverage it for a good job requires everyone to raise their game. It’s hard.
>
>
> Think of what The Times reported last February: At little Grinnell College
> in rural Iowa, with 1,600 students, “nearly one of every 10 applicants being
> considered for the class of 2015 is from China.” The article noted that
> dozens of other American colleges and universities are seeing a similar
> surge as well. And the article added this fact: Half the “applicants from
> China this year have perfect scores of 800 on the math portion of the SAT.”
>
> Not only does it take more skill to get a good job, but for those who are
> unable to raise their games, governments no longer can afford generous
> welfare support or cheap credit to be used to buy a home for nothing down —
> which created a lot of manual labor in construction and retail. Alas, for
> the 50 years after World War II, to be a president, mayor, governor or
> university president meant, more often than not, giving things away to
> people. Today, it means taking things away from people.
>
> All of this is happening at a time when this same globalization/I.T.
> revolution enables the globalization of anger, with all of these
> demonstrations now inspiring each other. Some Israeli protestors carried a
> sign: “Walk Like an Egyptian.” While these social protests — and their
> flash-mob, criminal mutations like those in London — are not caused by new
> technologies per se, they are fueled by them.
>
> This globalization/I.T. revolution is also “super-empowering” individuals,
> enabling them to challenge hierarchies and traditional authority figures —
> from business to science to government. It is also enabling the creation of
> powerful minorities and making governing harder and minority rule easier
> than ever. See dictionary for: “Tea Party.”
>
> Surely one of the iconic images of this time is the picture of Egypt’s
> President Hosni Mubarak — for three decades a modern pharaoh — being hauled
> into court, held in a cage with his two sons and tried for attempting to
> crush his people’s peaceful demonstrations. Every leader and C.E.O. should
> reflect on that photo. “The power pyramid is being turned upside down," said
> Yaron Ezrahi, an Israeli political theorist.
>
> So let’s review: We are increasingly taking easy credit, routine work and
> government jobs and entitlements away from the middle class — at a time when
> it takes more skill to get and hold a decent job, at a time when citizens
> have more access to media to organize, protest and challenge authority and
> at a time when this same merger of globalization and I.T. is creating huge
> wages for people with global skills (or for those who learn to game the
> system and get access to money, monopolies or government contracts by being
> close to those in power) — thus widening income gaps and fueling resentments
> even more.
>
> Put it all together and you have today’s front-page news.
>



-- 
The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a
revolution.  -- Paul Cezanne