Thomas Friedman is a Very Serious Commentator.
Here is Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times‘s resident
global brain, commentating on defense spending and other government monopolies.
China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I saymoon shotsI mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports; another is building a web of high-speed trains connecting major cities; a third is in bioscience, where the Beijing Genomics Institute this year ordered 128 DNA sequencers — from America — giving China the largest number in the world in one institute to launch its own stem cell/genetic engineering industry; and, finally, Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities. In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.
Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.
This contrast is not good. We’re out of balance — the balance between security and prosperity. We need to be in a race with China, not just Al Qaeda. Let’s start with electric cars.
Fuck yeah, electric cars!
We need a
dream team for them. If
we aren’t assembling a dream team of 16 state-owned enterprises — by which is meant, of course, giving away $15,000,000,000 to politically-connected monopolistic corporations — in order to produce
our own electric cars, how is Team U.S.A. ever going to get into the Civilizational Play-offs? And if we — by which Friedman means
they — aren’t going to the Civilizational Super-Bowl, who are you going to root for? The European Union? Haw, haw, haw. And without American electric cars, how would you even get to the game? Certainly not in a Chinese-made electric car — who ever heard of buying things that were made in China? In any case, Chinese electric cars will no doubt be too small to fit our giant American
We’re #1 foam fingers into the passenger seat.
In all seriousness, far be it from me to complain if somebody suggests that U.S. military spending is out of control, or points out that every dollar seized by the government and used to build bombs and killing machines and to pay for perpetual military occupation, is a dollar that is taken away from peace, progress, and from meeting the needs of ordinary people. But if the only alternative to imperial war that you can think up is imperial political economy — if the only alternative on offer is to have the money keep on getting seized by belligerent national governments and their bureaucratic
dream teams of political capitalists, for the purpose of beating other belligerent national governments and their favored political capitalists in an inane Cold War-style technological
race — if the only alternative on offer is to encourage this psychotic identification of people with the governments and state-capitalist predators who oppress and exploit them, as if the triumphs of this hostile and parasitic minority were
our triumphs, as if the profit margins of
our corporate-welfare firms were more important than human achievement, as if the important thing about a technology is not what it does for people but where it is made (and which belligerent government gets to tax it) — if, I say, the only alternative you have is to have the government turn its massive violence from warfare abroad to taxation and class warfare at home, in order to conscript us all into making world trade the arena for the continuation of war by other means — then you, sir, are talking with a corpse in your mouth.