China

Thomas L. Friedman: China Is Better Governed Than America

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The next time anyone tries to tell you that Thomas L. Friedman is a serious thinker, or a tribune for global democracy, or even a good columnist, or basically someone who isn't worth sending on the next slow boat to Shanghai, please refer him to this despicable column from today, then ask: Do you, too, prefer Chinese governance to American democracy? No really, Friedman says that:

I prefer Friedman's early work

There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China's leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing.

One almost doesn't know where to begin.

Reason on Friedman here.

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115 responses to “Thomas L. Friedman: China Is Better Governed Than America

  1. Like I said yesterday in reference to Oliver Stone, tyranny is so chic.

  2. I sincerely wish that this was just the result of a severe case of writer’s block. Unfortunately, I know that wish just isn’t going to come true.

  3. If the right people being in charge is what it takes to get things done, who cares how they come to be in charge? Just more ends-based thinking from the left.

    The left only champions democracy insofar as it currently aligns with their policy goals. Shocking.

  4. Just to go Mike Godwin early, this reminds me of the way Nazis and Russian Communists were viewed in their earlier stages. While both groups were obviously totalitarians who didn’t give a crap about individual rights, they had stated goals that were big or seemed big to some Western eyes. So the same kind of “Gosh, aren’t they dreaming” press and commentary made the rounds about them.

    Liberal governments with free markets are best. Period. Until the robot overlords (or Jesus–you pick!) take over with their totally enlightened and perfect rule, anyway.

  5. Waitaminute. Are you allowed to pull the curtain back on yourself? I thought a little dog had to do it.

    Shorter Friedman: All these noisy peasents get in the way of the One True Way.?

  6. reasonably enlightened people. i never thought i’d hear those words in reference to the ChiComs, unless it was self-referential.

  7. Pro Libertate, do not deny me!

  8. Why is it that no one in China is opposing the “politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century?”

    Oh, that’s right, Mao had them all shot.

  9. Fuck you, Friedman!

  10. Next, Friedman introduces a “cute nephew” character to his column.

  11. I love how he totally skips over the fact that the reason China is “overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power” is because they curtail even the most basic human rights, like reproductive freedom (which means more than simply access to abortion), or the right to sing about Grass Mud Horses in YouTube videos.

    I just can’t believe that people honestly think that “achieving our goals as a country” is more important than the individuals the country purportedly exists for.

  12. “It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power.”

    What is a few million political prisoners, a complete lack of free speech, or meaningful due process when compared to being ahead on wind power and electric cars?

    Friedman is not just a fool but a dangerous one. If someone told me that we could have the government exactly as I want it, but in order to do that we would have to end Democratic government in this country, I would say thanks but no thanks. Friedman apparently would be right on board with the idea.

    What is scary about this collumn is that he is being nothing if not logically consistent. If you buy into his brand of bullshit that global warming is the greatest threat to mankind ever and our democratic government can’t deal with the problem, then why isn’t some kind of coupe or authoritarian government justified?

    Sadly, I think a lot of docrtinal liberals would agree with him.

  13. only the Democrats are really playing

    Friedman, like many high-level national pundits, talk about politics as if it exists in a vacuum. We the people are merely expendable playthings, children even, not worthy of being taken seriously. If a few of us must be sacrificed to the collective, so be it, because these high lords of opinion know what’s best for us rubes and hayseeds.

  14. (or Jesus–you pick!)

    If Jesus was actually borned two thousand years ago in the middle east, how is it that He has a Metsican name?

  15. One almost doesn’t know where to begin.

    Not a masochist, I did not RTF link. But I did notice this from the article –

    It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

    That would be the same China that leads the world in CO2 emissions, that is the biggest air and water polluter on the face of the planet, that writes off 50 – 100 coal miners monthly, that displaced ??? people for the Three Gorges dams?

    What a colostomy bag.

  16. The point of being a human being is not to be well-governed the point is to be free.

    Solving a problem and finding solutions should always be gated by the rights of the individual.

  17. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power.

    That would really suck, if they “overtook” us in making some stuff, because they obviously would never even consider selling us that stuff. I go into stores and can never find any Chinese-made products.

  18. a complete lack of free speech, or meaningful due process

    I was touring a law school that I had applied to where the tour guide mentioned that the school had an exchange program with a Chinese university and trained many chinese judges and lawyers because “they have a developing legal system.”

    The guy next to me whispered “have they developed the concept of a ‘warning shot’ yet?”

  19. One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.

    I bet his editor had to remove the sentence about the trains running on time.

  20. “The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing.”

    You can kind of see how leftist utopian ideals always end up with people being shot and imprisoned. This is sort of phase two. The first phase is when leftists come up with grand schemes and go out to sell it to the world. The second phase comes when those schemes fail and people don’t cooperate with the plans. Hayak talks in the Road to Serfdom about people demanding someone who can make a plan work. Friedman is in this stage. He has had it with the uncooperative majority and is willing to trade away representative government to get what he thinks needs to be done done. This is inevitably followed by the third stage where the government coerces people into doing what needs done and the fourth stage where they imprison or shoot those who resist.

  21. Careful, Thomas. If you keep going down this road, you’re going to end up in Krugman land, a place I don’t think you really want to be.

  22. Upon arriving in China, in the airport terminal walking past a Dunkin Donuts, I was stopped by some of these reasonable people, and then it hit me. The Sony surveillance cameras that they tracked me on the whole time were powered by 30% renewable power, the Honda that would be following my every move was a hybrid, the tracking chip that they planted in my luggage was made of recyclable material, etc. They motioned me to an obscure door just past the McDonalds, they took my Samsonite briefcase and began to look through it. During my questioning I was put in a 3 by 5 cell. But here’s the ubersteroids behind China’s renewable resources policy, the real step forward that we are unable to do with our inefficient leadership, they cut out one of my kidneys right there, and it made me think, I had two kidneys all along, what a waste, they sewed me up and even though I wasn’t compensated for my kidney nor did I give them consent, this experience of enlightened governance gave me a new outlook on conservation. I walked out of the obscure door in the terminal by the McDonalds, had a new McCafe Mocha and pondered what I just experienced.

  23. John, sadly, lotsa folks are good with that second stage, as long as the gubmint keeps Gmail running smoothly.

  24. I’m fairly sure Mike Godwin would agree that comparison to Nazis/Fascists/Stalinists is apt here.

  25. “John, sadly, lotsa folks are good with that second stage, as long as the gubmint keeps Gmail running smoothly.”

    Not as many as you think. We have managed to keep representative democracy in this country for two hundred years because there are certain lines most people won’t cross. Call me an optimist, but I think fools like Friedman are in the minority.

  26. Godwin’s Law refers only to the inevitability, not reasonableness, of the reference, no?

  27. I don’t see why Mr Friedman’s claim is so outlandish from a libertarian point of view.

    The Chinese government is only nominally Communist at this point. By many measures of economic freedom they are more free than we are (after all the bailouts, we’re basically a Communist country without the balls to admit it).

    I don’t see why libertarians are so hostile to non-democratic forms of government. The Kings of old were no where near as powerful as our current democratic government. And, the Kings of old rarely confiscated nearly as much wealth from their “subjects” (~5% of GDP on average) as the democrats of today confiscate from their “citizens” (~40% of GDP).

    I’d take good government over bad government any day. I don’t see why the fact that I have a 0.00000000001% say in who is elected means that I am any more free. No one I’ve voted for has ever won an election anyway.

  28. Everyone here has ably smacked around Friedman for the unabashed authoritarianism of his statement, so I’ll address his crushing naivete:

    He is taking the word of the Chinese government with regard to statistics about performance in these projects.

    Considering the fact that Chinese authorities routinely brutalize anyone who either complains or attempts to bring failures of local governments to the attention of either the media or the central authorities, no one can make any definitive statements about the performance of medium-profile projects in China.

    I would expect Friedman to know this, given the fact that just about every time any journalist has trumpeted the “accomplishments” of authoritarian and opaque systems, they’ve ended up with egg on their face later. But since Friedman is dumber than a hamster, I guess he can’t learn from the mistakes of others.

  29. Everyone here has ably smacked around Friedman for the unabashed authoritarianism of his statement, so I’ll address his crushing naivete:

    Naivete about the claims of authoritarians is de rigeur for lefties. See, e.g., decades of lefty Castro fellation.

  30. cvd,

    It’s quite simple: Libertarians are about maximizing the liberty and the potential happiness/prosperity of the individual. The Chinese may be less-than-pure Communists, but they are plenty totalitarian. That means individual rights are meaningless. About as far from the libertarian ideal as possible.

    In general, while many libertarians distrust democratic power as potentially tyrannical, that doesn’t mean we’d like to go to a benevolent despot. Without checks and balances and generally limited government, we fear that the government will inevitably threaten our liberties. In fact, many of us think that it’s inevitable that any strong government will do so, regardless of how it’s configured.

  31. What RC. You mean the Soviet Union really didn’t achieve full employment and Cuban healthcare isn’t really all that good?

  32. CVD makes some good points. While I would never defend the anti-freedom and often brutal tactics of the PRC’s leadership, the economic policies they are pursuing are improving the standard of living of their people.
    Is there anyone here who believes the economic policies of the US Government in recent years are improving our standard of living?

  33. Pro Libertate,

    Our government is also “plenty totalitarian” by my reading. The recent administrations have tried to effectively own two of our largest industries – finance and healthcare.

    The “checks and balances” you speak of seem to be broken. If you look closer, you’ll see that the only people doing the checking and balancing are part of government. You speak of limited government, but our government is, in practice, only limited by itself (much like the Chinese government).

    You say you fear that without these paper checks and balances (enforced by those who break them) our liberty will be threatened. I think our liberty is already plenty threatened. If nothing else, it’s threatened by the fact that we own the good government (China) trillions of dollars because of our bad government policies. When anyone owes that much, their liberty is threatened.

    I’m far from the first libertarian to point out that monarchical governments have more pro-liberty interests than democratic governments. If nothing else the monarchists can take a long term view (toward say fixing social security) that democratically elected politicians cannot (so we have the same crappy, less-libertarian system we have now).

    Read Hoppe for the whole argument: http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Economics-Politics-Monarchy-Natural/dp/0765808684

  34. cvd, you’re plenty uneducated about how China works for the everyday Citizen Chen. It’s easy to be fooled, because a lot of American media reports about China are very flattering — growth! progress! more capitalism!.

    I recommend the book Oracle Bones if you want to see the good and the bad of life in China and what it’s like to express an opinion that goes against the gov’t plan there.

  35. Move towards more limited government and freer markets and we’ll be peachy. China’s no threat to us. Just like Japan wasn’t. Plenty of global economy to go around. If we’d get back to our free market roots and turn down the government meddling, we’d quickly re-establish our scientific and technological preeminence.

    Naturally, we’ll do no such thing and continually gnash our teeth.

    cvd,

    I’m not saying the U.S. system is working well. However, I do think the mixed government concept can work, provided that the people continue to buy into limited government. Once we started making “democracy” a greater good than “liberty”, we started walking down the wrong path. We’re also harmed by the idea that we can force all men to be equal–not under the law, which they should be, but in fact.

    In any event, a monarchy is not the answer.

  36. CVD,

    Monarchy is great, as long as you are the monarch. You are living in a fantasy land if you think you can unaccoutable power to people and expect those people not to abuse that power.

    And yes, Monarchs of the middle ages and early modern Europe dind’t tax as much as our government does now. But that was for lack of ability, not desire.

  37. That would be the same China that leads the world in CO2 emissions, that is the biggest air and water polluter on the face of the planet, that writes off 50 – 100 coal miners monthly, that displaced ??? people for the Three Gorges dams?

    What a colostomy bag.

    Hey! We kicked him out years ago. The necrotic pustules took him in.

  38. Wow, he is so done. It’s hard to believe he just lapped Paul Krugman in the race to be the most loathesome NYT columnist, but it’s true. I think he jumped the shark while stuffed inside a lead-lined fridge.

  39. Oh wait, damn it, Citizen Nothing wins the thread.

  40. While I would never defend the anti-freedom and often brutal tactics of the PRC’s leadership, the economic policies they are pursuing are improving the standard of living of their people.

    Sure, as long as you weren’t one of the peasants swept up or had your home destroyed for one of the glorious works of progress.

    Is there anyone here who believes the economic policies of the US Government in recent years are improving our standard of living?

    That’s a mighty low threshold you’ve got there. Let’s call that Limbonomics.

  41. Friedman jumped me years ago.

  42. Friedman: putting the lie to the claim Ayn Rand’s characters do not exist in reality.

  43. You know, I’ve tried to remain optimistic about people and presume the best and keep the belief that people are inherently good and nowhere near as stupid as the chattering classes keep saying they are, well, because they voted for the other guy.

    Well, let this be a lesson to me to never stop listening to my cynical side. I was just in a long online discussion with a bunch of lefties and patiently and clearly explained why I think that a market-based solution is better than a socialized solution. I tried to keep it out of the personal and on the rational side. I want those hours of my life back now, please.

    I should have just started punching myself in the head, like I thought I should have, in order to achieve the same effect.

    Doctrinaire partisanship has just turned most people into blathering fucking morons, unable to to see either the forest or the fucking trees. Friedman’s piece is just the icing on the cake, and you know who always wants cake.

    Fuck, I hate people today.

  44. “One almost doesn’t know where to begin.” – Amen, I’m at a loss for words. Maybe two: Positively Evil.

  45. It’s a venality-based community.

  46. Friedman’s thesis isn’t really how great autocracy is, but how useless the GOP is. Not that I’m defending his rhetorical technique. The man never met a mixed metaphor or a strained comparison he didn’t like.

  47. If it were a veal-based community, we could eat them in tasty dishes to assuage our agony.

    I call that win-win.

  48. “Fuck, I hate people today.”

    Welcome to my world. Daily.

  49. You know what would be great, Tony? If the GOP and Democrat party merged into one big party. Then they could get things done.

    I prefer hearing from Jackie Chan on this issue:

    “I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” Chan said Saturday. “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.”

    He knew what he was saying. Thomas Friedman apparently does not.

  50. “Fuck, I hate people today.”

    I’ve been that way for about 40 years. I guess that makes me a humanist.

  51. Tony,

    Yeah, the GOP is really useless, not like the Democrats, who have accomplished all their goals; fixed the economy, got the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, passed a health insurance reform bill, and all of Obama’s other universally popular plans.

    The reason the commies in China can do whatever they like, and the Democrats, who control the U.S. executive and legislature, cannot, is largely because the Democrats are incompetent and have no balls.

  52. I think we now have positive proof that Leftists are greatly enamoured of the coercive power of the state (as long as the right kind of people are in charge).

    Also:

    What a colostomy bag.

    I love this phrase. Mind if I use it?

  53. And yes, Monarchs of the middle ages and early modern Europe dind’t tax as much as our government does now. But that was for lack of ability, not desire.

    It was structural. Most of the wealth was held by nobles, who had their own private armies. Good luck taxing them.

    Throw in the confiscation of wealth by nobles, and you’d probably have a pretty stout effective tax rate.

    But the whole thing is so structurally different its really apples and oranges.

  54. Most of the wealth was held by nobles, who had their own private armies. Good luck taxing them.

    I want a private army!

  55. Friedman’s thesis isn’t really how great autocracy is, but how useless the GOP is. Not that I’m defending his rhetorical technique. The man never met a mixed metaphor or a strained comparison he didn’t like.

    Actually, that part of the column is even more stupid.

    Friedman is claiming that we have a one-party democracy because…the two major parties don’t agree on what to do.

    Friedman is claiming we would not be a one-party democracy if…the two major parties were in complete agreement and had no policy differences, and there were no obstacles to imposing that unified view.

    What an asshole.

  56. What a colostomy bag

    That’s an overly generous appraisal.
    Colostomy bags are useful.

  57. “leaky colostomy bag”? Would that fit?

  58. You guys are ripping on Friedman for his naivete and then you are saying things like: “If we’d get back to our free market roots and turn down the government meddling, we’d quickly re-establish our scientific and technological preeminence.”

    We live in a democracy where, at max, 10% would support such a policy. If you believe that the above is possible in our current system, you are the ones being naive.

    Why would you wish for those things if you are wishing for things that won’t happen? Why not just wish for an instant transformation to an anarchical utopia, it’s just as likely to happen under our current system?

  59. cvd,

    For the same reason that “lie back and enjoy it” is not a solution for rape.

  60. cvd,

    I dunno, I guess we could just give up. I’ve got kids, so I’d like them to experience at least the freedom and prosperity that I have, if not more.

    I have no intention of conceding the fight for liberty, even if Schiller was right: “Mit der Dummheit k?mpfen die G?tter selbst vergebens.”

  61. I suggest Friedman the fuckbag move to China.

    Get the fuck out.

  62. “lie back and enjoy it” is not a solution for rape.

    It’s not?

  63. Not a huge Friedman fan; however, I don’t see him saying he prefers an authoritarian system to a democratic one. Merely, that authoritarian systems can be more effective and productive than ones where every political move is designed around winning re-election. Mussolini made the trains run on time. When a government is not accountable to its citizens, it can push through whatever policies it chooses.

    I think he’s just saying what many, many people have said (I’m not agreeing with it, but…): that there is an argument that a benevolent dictatorship is the ideal form of government, as it has the efficiency benefits of authoritarianism/not needing to compromise and the general support of the people via the benevolence. As long as the Chinese are getting rich, they won’t attempt to break the authoritarian stranglehold and will generally go along with their government. (If they go along with it, they can get rich and advance. If they don’t, they will be punished. So why blow a good thing?)

    A theoretical question, however: if there was somehow a dictator who pushed through libertarian economic and social reforms, removed the government from all but the most minimal functions, and basically had the policy of “live and let live” as long as the dictator remains unchallenged, would you oppose the fact that democracy went out the window to get there? Not that it’s ever likely (Pinochet wasn’t even remotely close, so don’t say it), but wouldn’t it be preferable to a democratic system where everyone wants a handout and wants to control their neighbors’ actions via elections?

    I think Friedman is saying “the Chinese government is doing a lot of things I like, so even if I don’t like the means, the ends are desirable.” Would we not say the same thing if there was an example that closely achieved our desired political ends?

  64. I wholeheartedly encourage Friedman to move to China, preferably the city whose police have a manual on how to beat suspects.

  65. This is inevitably followed by the third stage where the government coerces people into doing what needs done and the fourth stage where they imprison or shoot those who resist.

    I don’t know about the “inevitable” part. Sometimes the sullen masses (proles?) thwart their overlords’ grand plans (see “second, failing, attempt to finish nationalizing healthcare turning into wretched overreach”).

  66. This is inevitably followed by the third stage where the government coerces people into doing what needs done and the fourth stage where they imprison or shoot those who resist.

    Then there’s the fifth stage where the government policies and five and ten-year plans fail, and the wheels fall off the economy.

    It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power.

    Get back to me when you see results, not “commitments.” The USSR made plenty of plans, and fooled many a liberal. The results were impressive in a whole ‘nother way.

    And, the Kings of old rarely confiscated nearly as much wealth from their “subjects” (~5% of GDP on average) as the democrats of today confiscate from their “citizens” (~40% of GDP).

    The king may only have taken 5%, but by the time you figured in what the earls, lords, barons, knights, etc. skimmed the serfs were little more than slaves.

    Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing.

    Explain to me why, if the Democrats have overwhelming majorities in both houses, it’s the Republicans who are at fault for stalling “progress.” The Democrats can pass any law they want, as long as they’re willing to face the consequences next election day. If they really thought they knew what a majority of their constituents wanted, it would already be law.

  67. “If you buy into his brand of bullshit that global warming is the greatest threat to mankind ever and our democratic government can’t deal with the problem, then why isn’t some kind of coupe or authoritarian government justified?”

    Tom Friedman’s Compound:

    http://lh6.ggpht.com/_0oNRupXJ4-A/SmhyIARRlaI/AAAAAAAAA2g/YvSp31O7bcQ/%5BUNSET%5D.jpg

  68. It sounds like Friedman got a nice big check for writing a piece that totally kisses the ass of the Chinese government. I’m guessing someone in DC thinks it’s a good idea to start kissing that ass like a long lost girlfriend.

  69. Thomass Friedman | September 9, 2009, 10:28am | #

    That is just about the best damned thing I’ve read this week.

  70. Why not just wish for an instant transformation to an anarchical utopia, it’s just as likely to happen under our current system?

    I was going to, but I knew if I wished for somethign like “world peace,” we’d just get alien invaders, eventually becoming our beneficent and peace-loving overlords.

    You just can’t trust magic lamps any more.

  71. He’s going after a another Pulitzer…the Walter Durante Pulitzer!

  72. “Tom Friedman’s Compound:”

    Jesus fuckin’ christ!

  73. Thought experiment. What if global warming were the greatest threat to humanity’s survival, but the people were too collectively stupid to do anything about it? The constitution isn’t a suicide pact, after all.

  74. Ah, shit. Sorry, guys. I forgot the post that as Chad.

  75. It sounds like Friedman got a nice big check for writing a piece that totally kisses the ass of the Chinese government.

    There’s no doubt in my mind he was paid to write this. But I’m sure he really believes it too.

    “Tom Friedman’s Compound:”

    To be fair, it doesn’t look like he wastes a lot of water watering large parts of his lawn!

  76. “What if global warming were the greatest threat to humanity’s survival, but the people were too collectively stupid to do anything about it?”

    Why not take a run over to the Friedman compound and ask the stupid living people there to tear down their compound?

    O you could just shut the fuck up.

  77. Tom Friedman. Tear down that compound.

  78. What if global warming were the greatest threat to humanity’s survival, but the people were too collectively stupid to do anything about it?

    Tony, any given person is much, much more likely to die at the hands of a government, or because of the failure of the government to meets its basic “night watchman” obligations, than they are to die of global warming.

    We’re just a little more worried here about actual problems than speculative ones.

  79. R C Dean,

    But you’re a kook denier. In fact global warming is the greatest threat humanity faces right now, but you don’t believe that so I’m just asking what if. I don’t know that I have the answer. I do know that the same people willing to cede every liberty they have in the name of protecting us from dudes with box knives are somewhat less willing to sacrifice democracy in the name of protecting us from much more deadly threats.

  80. Who says it’s the greatest threat?

  81. Why not take a run over to the Friedman compound and ask the stupid living people there to tear down their compound?

    Friedman would have that compound in China as well. Apparatchiks always have the best dachas.

  82. No one seriously believes global warming is a “threat to human survival.” On a long time scale, its at best a minor inconvenience. The sun burning out would be a “threat to human survival.”

  83. What about asteroids and comets? They’re a real, proven threat.

  84. I had asteroids once. A nice sitz bath and some of the wife’s boutique anti-aging cream fixed me right up.

  85. Asteroids? Comets? We can’t make everyone ride a recycled driftwood bicycle to work because of asteroids. You guys are crazee!

  86. Let’s put ChiCom Tom in front of a column of tanks and holding two shopping bags stuffed with copies of his op-ed.

  87. It is not an accident that in China robust milkmaids drive around in electric cars, and rosy cheek undergrads build lines of solar power panels on their dorm roofs. The all wise, leaders of China understand that in a world of exploding populations and a proletariat joining the ranks of the middle classes due to the just policies of the Central Authority, there will be a greater demand for clean power and that energy efficiency is going to create a great leap forward. Beijing’s leadership from the top down will ensure China’s increasing roll in the vanguard of the workers of the world.

    [Hey Walt, Steve in Facts Checking here, how do you account for the increases in SUV and large vehicle purchases including Hummer. They actually bought the company? Also, what of the bust that is predicted by many economist due to over stimulus? Shades of Japan ’89?]

    [Sorry Steve, you know who got wind of the questions you were asking about China, and the accuracy of current reports coming out of there from our Beijing bureau. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to pack your things and wait for a security officer to escort you off the premises. Again, sorry, from Sal.]

  88. Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing.

    Come on, everyone’s ignoring this part of the idiocy. Somehow we have a “one-party democracy” because, wait for it, the opposition party disagrees with proposed policy and is able to block it. That’s the opposite of “one-party democracy.” And of course the Republicans (and others) have proposed alternatives; they won’t get adopted because the Democrats have the White House and a majority, sure, but that’s like saying that the Democrats’ proposals didn’t count when they were in the minority because they knew they’d be vetoed.

  89. What about asteroids and comets? They’re a real, proven threat.

    And I think it’s a good thing we have people tracking them. Of course global warming is a certainty, while an asteroid in our lifetime is merely slightly possible. My hope is that we’d have a government agency with the ability to predict and deal with natural disasters. No need to subvert democracy that way. But if an asteroid were headed straight for earth and 51% of the people think there’s no asteroid despite all available evidence and work adamantly against trying to divert it, we’d have a problem.

  90. More than 51% of this country wants to destroy our economy. Should I take power and bend them to my will?

  91. Of course global warming is a certainty

    You are going to be so disappointed in 10 years. Unless they pass cap-and-trade, then it will be pretty much illegal to deny global warming.

  92. Jesus I don’t even know where to start with Friedman, someone I always thought was one of the more enjoyable and intellectual “liberals”.

    It seems like the leftwing needs to get back to their roots by reading Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson and realizing that although it is imperfect, a liberal democratic society will do more to promote their view of “social justice” than any of their proposals for a wise elite governing.

    I’m reading the Age of Reagan and the author is describing how at the end of Carter’s failure as President many were claiming that the Presidency is too weak and how it needed be beefed up. I can feel that this argument is going to be super amplified as Obama continues to grind against the wheel of reality in the coming years….

  93. I’d just like to know on what planet Thomas “Friedman Unit” Friedman is on the left.

  94. I don’t accept Friedman as a lefty given his early positions on the Iraq War. That combined with his horrible writing style means I don’t care to defend anything he says.

  95. Initially like cvd, I was sympathetic to the idea that China’s governance could rival that of the US. After all, on the ground today in Shanghai doesn’t feel that different from on the ground in Hong Kong and Singapore, places which are in economic terms at least more free than the US. So to check I looked up China in the Index of Economic Freedom. According to this source China still has a way to go. Where HK scores 90 and the US 80, China is just at 53 in 132nd place. This puts it below Rwanda. I wonder if this can really be right though. If I had to go and start a business and live somewhere, I think I’d have a much better chance in Shanghai than in Kigali.

    China does beat the US on government size (89 points vs 60) since spending is 19% of GDP, well below the US’s 37%. It’s also slightly better on fiscal freedom. It really loses on investment freedom, poor property rights and corruption.

    I’m also sympathetic to the idea that less democratic places can be more libertarian. After all the top scoring places, Hong Kong and Singapore are both somewhat autocratic as I understand.

  96. “More than 51% of this country wants to destroy our economy. Should I take power and bend them to my will?”

    Perhaps not, but if you support Democracy, then by definition you support the destruction of our economy.

    It’s worth pointing out that founding fathers, particularly Jefferson (beloved of all good libertarians) thought that Democracy was a retarded idea. There are political systems other than communist dictatorships and modern-American democracy.

  97. Even The Onion knows Thomas Friedman is full of crap: http://www.theonion.com/content/china

  98. “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
    Sir Winston Churchill

    “There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy.”
    Thomas Friedman.

  99. I don’t accept Friedman as a lefty given his early positions on the Iraq War. That combined with his horrible writing style means I don’t care to defend anything he says.

    Republican Ron Paul

    Christopher Hitchens

    Hilary Clinton’s voting record

    Cindy Sheehan libertarian screeds

    Pat Buchanan

    cato

    and far right wing writings found in Reason magazine.

    But yeah good luck in thinking the Iraq war was a right and left wing thing.

  100. “…I don’t even know where to start with Friedman, someone I always thought was one of the more enjoyable and intellectual “liberals”.”

    Friedman is, this is where liberal intellectualism often leads: an impatience with the structure of a constitutional republic that slows down radical change in policy that a liberal prefers. This is also the source of distrust of intellectuals, as they are the first to throw limited particpitory government under the bus.

  101. Please read the entirity of the article. He is referencing the fact that our one-party system still cannot get anything done since the other side is playing politics to ideas that they previously supported. Please read the whole article before you respond to this out of context quote.

  102. “Please read the entirity of the article. He is referencing the fact that our one-party system still cannot get anything done since the other side is playing politics to ideas that they previously supported. Please read the whole article before you respond to this out of context quote.”

    You realize logically how stupid what you said is. IF it’s a one party system, THEN how is it that the other party is “playing politics”.

    Friedman is a liberal fascist plain and simple. No defense, none for what he said.

  103. At the end of the article Friedman sites, “…Obama is on a path to give America the Romney health plan with McCain-style financing, does not mean the Republicans will embrace it…”

    This is the case and point, if this bill is based on systems written by republicans, then why are they opposing it? The reason is that they are more desparate to be in power than they are to accomplish things that they support. That is playing power politics.

  104. if this bill is based on systems written by republicans, then why are they opposing it?

    I don’t understand the question.

    Are you complaining that Republicans aren’t supporting bad ideas from other Republicans? Isn’t taking a principled stand against this a good thing, in terms of critical thinking?

  105. @Jeffersonian

    What the man said makes perfect, logical sense. The verbiage you’re taking for granted as ‘true’ or ‘factual’ is where your confusion originates.

    To say we have a one-party system is slightly incorrect. It’s more like a 2 party system, but the other party is like an asshole on your elbow: pretty worthless. Ever watch Lil’ Bush? The republican party in our country right now is like a puddin’ hole.

    You can ‘play politics’ without being a substantial ‘party’, or rather, without being in the majority or in power. It’s a seemingly one-party system because the Republicans are making it that way, by playing power politics. Not the other way around.

    Your tautology is flawed because you’re trying to make the shoe fit, rather than observe what’s being said. In other words …

    IF the other party is ‘playing politics’, THEN we will be more like a one-party system.

  106. @ Anonymous

    I am complaining that Republicans are playing power politics. Rather than supporting measures that they had proposed, they are opposing them in order to deface their political rivals.

    I understand that these measures should obviously be scrutinized, but these bills should not be flat-out objected in order to bring the opposition down. The point that Friedman makes is that we have put ourselves in a stand-still due to our system’s politics.

  107. What can be said that wasn’t already said:

    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety (in this case Capital/Industrial), deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – BF

  108. Rather than supporting measures that they had proposed, they are opposing them in order to deface their political rivals.

    Socialized medicine by one governor, which is usually the first thing people mention when discussing his failed bid for being the candidate, means no other member of the party can criticize that policy?

    That’s makes no sense. Most of those members didn’t support it, and some actively opposed it. There is no hypocrisy there.

  109. Article quote re Hong Kong:

    “Half of its 60-member legislature is elected, with the other half picked by special interest groups.”

    Sounds like the U. S. Congress to me!

  110. Actually, Friedman is right. China is better led than we are. They’re just better than we are. We’re a nation of pathetic spoiled brats, nothing more. They are clearly superior and will take over the world within the next generation or two.

  111. We act as if we own the world when we really owe the world-literally. And when the creditors come calling, we’ll sell ourselves out in two seconds. The Chinese do not need to build up their navy and air force to contront us. They merely need to spend a small amount of their money buying off our corrupt politicians, who will then sell us out. And it won’t take much, as we’ve seen from recent scandals how little it takes to buy them off. Of course, we’ll vote them in because we’re morons and it doesn’t take anything to fool us. We’re americans after all.

  112. I guess Freidman does have some really good points.

  113. This doesn’t contradict my own realization that “progressives” — bending backwards towards aristocratic rule — are actually quite regressive. See my letter, April 2011 issue of Commentary. Of course the media will buy the puerile posturings of “progressives” because the media is embedded in the anti-democratic mindset.

    Alas, in responding to leftist demagoguery, the right seems to retain its 1930’s paralysis.

  114. The man makes some valid points. I have lived in China for 2.5 years, as my IT job in America was outsourced. So much of what I thought before coming here was just wrong. I like it here. It’s not an oppressive place to live. There are loopholes in the one child policy, so that you can pay a fee and have more children. Two only children who marry can have two kids. Anyway, I digress. If you think you receive unbiased reports of China in the news, dream on. It has problems of course, but it is certainly better managed than the USA has been recently. America seems like more of a police state than China, following the Patriot act, and when I last visited in 2010, the anger and depression of ordinary Americans was palpable. I would prefer to live in the USA of old, but our once prosperous nation has been mismanaged badly by multiple administrations. If I had to pick which country to live in right now, China would be my choice. At least I can have a decent career here.

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