In Which Tom Friedman Imagines a WikiLeak From a Chinese Diplomat Laughing About America's Dysfunctional Political System


Funny, all the people I *meet* there seem to travel abroad!

Swear to God.

One throwaway line dripping with ignorant contempt (remember, this is written in the supposed voice of a Chinese diplomat in Washington):

[T]he Americans are oblivious. They travel abroad so rarely that they don't see how far they are falling behind.

So rarely? According to the Centers for Disease Control [pdf], some 60 million Americans, or one-fifth the population, travel abroad each year. China? According to the China Tourism Academy, in 2009 mainland Chinese made a total of 47 million trips abroad. Even if you wrongly assume that each of those 47 million trips were made by different people, that's still 13 million fewer, and only about 3.5% of the population.

Reason on Friedman's China syndrome here.

UPDATE: Another New York media monster with a China fetish plays the insular-hick card, too:

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, leader of the Bloomberg faction of the Bloomberg party, was interviewed en route to China, where he was seeking to open diplomatic ties between Cathay and the colorful principality he governs. A quote: "If you look at the U.S., you look at who we're electing to Congress, to the Senate — they can't read. I'll bet you a bunch of these people don't have passports."

NEXT: You Are No Longer Free To Move About the Country

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  1. On the bright side, at least he didn’t include the line: “My only fear is that the Americans will realize it’s time for some nation-building at home.”

  2. Maureen Dowd is off today.

    Yes. Yes she is.

    1. I noticed that too, and figured Friedman was being extra Dowd-ish to make up for it.

      1. The term you were looking for is dowdy. Which is actually, and perhaps counterintuitively, much more applicable to Friedman than to Maureen.

  3. I really can’t wait until Wikileaks releases the body scans of millions of travellers.


    1. Guess I missed the notice that Reason is 4Chan.


        (some text so that the spamfilter will let me through, more text, still some)

        1. A disaffected /b/tard, sharing his PUDDI pain. Sorry, bro.

  4. If Friedman loves China so much, why doesn’t he marry it?

    1. That was *this close* to being the alt text.

      1. Next time, Matt. Because there will be a next time.

        1. Yeah, it’s called “tomorrow.”

    2. You know, I hate the “love it or leave it” mentality as much as the next cosmotarian elitist, but I have to wonder for all the godawful hard-ons these folks like Friedman claim to have for some of the countries they keep praising and/or comparing the USA unfavorably to, I’m not seeing nearly as much emmigration taking place as I would expect to if they were really serious about it.

    3. I’d support that…

    4. Are you familiar with the Chinese gender ratio these days, Epi?


  5. mainland Chinese made a total of 47 million trips abroad.

    Which means that about 1.3b Chinies stayed in China and had a full year of experiencing what the USA is falling behind to! – TF

  6. Other countries have been laughing at the USA’s dysfunctional democratic foreign policy, with its multiple goals and schools for 235 years. So too have they complained about our leaking, and assumed that these two things make a “real” foreign policy impossible. But it’s worked out pretty well, being open and fractious.

    Excellent perspective from Sec Gates , noting that the US leaks have a long history and that openness is a strength.

    1. Authoritarians like Friedman have always hated the American people because they just won’t do what they are told like the Europeans will. They have done everything in their power to change that.

      1. I occasionally like to tell people I know who think Friedman is a genius that America was founded and built by people who left Europe because it, you know, sucked.

      2. Some days I have a harder time thinking of a bigger blight on our society than American liberals who suffer from a crippling inferiority complex over not being European.

        1. They went from being a tragic blight to a pathetic one around the time they extended their inferiority complex to Canada.

        2. An American student of mine came to office hours yesterday and when I attempted to make conversation asking her what she planned to do after graduating, she said “move somewhere else because I hate this country.”

          It was all I could do to keep from telling her not to let her ass hit the door on the way out.

          1. Yeah, but then you opted for leaning back in your chair and planting your shoe between her cheeks instead, right? Please say that’s what happened.

      3. The word is “ungovernable”.

  7. Why throw money away on overseas travel when I can get the Asian massage to come to me?

    1. “Special outcall available” must be the real reason Friedman loves the Chinese so much.

      1. Get $50 off L2 when you mention my Backpage add!!


  8. Will “The trains are fast” be the “The trains run on time” of the 21st Century?

    1. Well, if they’re so fast, they’d better damn well be on time too!

  9. Looking forward to wikileaks publishing the Chinese’ dossiers on certain oddly mustachioed columnists and their useful idiocy.

    1. I honestly think that he is on the Chinese payroll. I can’t believe anyone could be this stupid without some money being involved.

      1. If there were money involved he’d be smarter about it. No, this level of useful idiocy is the old fashioned kind: he really believes it.

        1. That is probably right. If I were his Chinese handler, I would have told him a couple of years ago “dude, tone it down a little bit, let’s not make this too obvious”.

          1. “OOOOH, I’m a believer, I couldn’t leave her if I tried.”

        2. You cannot hope to bribe or twist
          Thank God- the British journalist!
          But seeing what the man will do
          Unbribed there’s no occasion to.

        3. Indeed. Besides, doesn’t the NYT have a storied tradition of publishing the ravings of authoritarian apologists, as long as they are of the lefty variety?

          1. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

            1. Oh, I think you do, Mr. Duranty.

          2. Let’s not be unfair to the NYT. They also publish right-wing authoritarian apologists like Brooks and Kristol.

      2. Really? You should read the comments on his column then.

        You are so right Thomas. I’m an American living in Shanghai. Everywhere
        I go people are building here. Everything China wants done gets done because
        of one party rule. While America keeps arguing amongst itself. Why won’t Americans support
        Obama through his good and bad. No matter what he is our president. We should be loyal.
        That’s what I like about China. Nomatter what Hu Jin Tao does the people respect and listen
        to him BECAUSE he’s president.

        1. I wonder if that is just someone trolling. I can’t believe you could live in a society that oppressive and not see it or understand it. Wow.

          1. There is a significant segment of even Chinese ex-pats who have settled here that have that mentality. Then there are the Stockholm Syndromers like the jackass who wrote that comment. There are a significant number of them.

            1. So, Chinese ex-pats recognize the horror they left behind, while the American living in statist utopia loves it…Interesting Pattern or Blindingly Obvious?

              Maybe the strategy of talking up China as a great place is actually working, and causing authoritarian Ameridouches to immigrate there? *fingers crossed*

            2. It’s absolutely mind boggling. I have a Chinese coworker, who despite being raised almost his entire life in the states is a constant apologist for the Chinese government.

              1. Chinese are wildly insecure. Every Chinese ex-pat I have ever met spent every spare word apologizing for China and running down the United States. It is comically pathetic.

              2. It seems to have everything to do with us being “disharmonious”, which is supposed to be a bad thing in the abstract.

                Is it an Eastern philosophy thing? Is it a product of centuries of dominance on the Asian continent? I don’t quite get it, and I really, really don’t get the Americans who end up being cheerleaders for the one party state.

                The Chinese ex-pat entrepreneurs who would never have reached anything close to the success they see here if they remained being apologists make even less sense.

                They seem not to appreciate that one needn’t refrain from ever openly disagreeing with one’s neighbors in order to get along with them or even be friends with them.

                1. Probably just a natural tendency to stick up for the mother culture. Mexicans, Philippinos, Indians, and Chinese (in my experience) all talk about how great things are at home, and how different/bad things are here.

                  Hell, I’m nostalgic for Buffalo, NY, and no way in hell I’m going back there.

        2. If I were Obama’s bitch I’d probably say that too.

        3. Dissent is unpatriotic!

          I hope that’s a troll.

        4. It hurts my brain trying to figure out how there are any Americans that really believe that. Are they completely ignorant on the ideas our country was founded on?

          At least that person moved to a country that in sync with their pro-authoritarian views. It’s better than people like Tom Friedman that keep promoting these ideas for the United States to adopt.

        5. Totalitarian regimes do a better job of “getting things done”, no doubt. However, the price is that they create a climate utterly incapable of innovation. At this point in time China doesn’t really need to innovate since it borrows ideas heavily from the West…but that can only go on for so long.

          1. I agree. Totalitarianism wins the efficiency battle of today; meanwhile, messy America is winning the battles of the future. Our messiness actually helps determine where the future leads.

  10. Matt, how about going after some fruit that’s not so low hanging.

    Friedman’s just way too easy.

    1. Matt would you consider a career change?

      Best Prices and Amazing Selection of Assorted Nail Care Items.

    2. It would be impossible to comment on the NYT at all if he applied your standard.

  11. Can we just put Friedman in a box and ship him to mainland China?

    He’d be happier and I’d be happier. The only losers would be the Chinese who’d have to put up with his lame analysis.

    1. Why not two boxes?

      1. Why not ten? Or one really, really small one?

        1. Trash bags… they’re easier to weigh down and dump in the ocean.

          (Sorry; I was catching up on the last few episodes of Dexter the other night.)

          1. Aren’t you surprised they haven’t worked a jungle fever angle into the story? It’s Julia Stiles for chris’sakes.

            1. Her breast-free dourness begs for her to be cast in some mean nun porn.

            2. Mmmmm….Julia Stiles.


  12. James Lileks, in National Review:

    Brace yourselves! We’re about to be governed by provincial illiterates. For folk like Mike, the Magic Passport possesses liberating qualities; running your fingers over its stiff blue cover makes you think of stepping off a plane, shorn of the thick sopping wool of America, ready for an experience that will add depthless wisdom to your perception of the world. They drive on the other side of the road! They have tiny cups of coffee! Salad comes after the main meal! These globe hoppers believe that someone who’s been to all 50 states is less informed than someone who lives on the Upper East Side all year except for a trip to Cannes. If a passport were required to go west of the Hudson, these people would be proud they didn’t have one.

    1. My update on this post comes from Lileks.

    2. Salad comes after the main meal!

      Hey, that is freaky!

      1. Not at all. I always eat my salad after my main meal. Well, I mean, I will. “After” ranges from 50-100years, so I’ll be eating a lot of salad when that day comes. Hopefully I’ll die before then though.

  13. How many of those “foreign trips” were to Canada?

    The vast majority of Americans don’t have passports.

    1. You have to have a passport to go to Canada now, and have had to for a while, super genius.

      1. Although you can get that “passport card” thing now, a slightly cheaper driver’s license sized card, though I’m unclear on the point of doing so.

        1. So you can go to Canada, Mexico, and IIRC, a few Caribbean islands.

          1. I’m glad she reminded everyone that “Canada” is not really a “foreign country”.

            1. “I’ve been to Canada, but that doesn’t count, because it’s like, attached.”

      2. He’s so genius, it’s super!

        1. He’s so super, it’s genius!

          Bah, it’s so obviously trolling anyway.

      3. Do you?
        I thought that Canada didn’t require you to have a passport to enter, but you need one if you want to be allowed to return to the Land of the Free.

        1. Yes, passports are required now.

      4. Even if you drive?

        1. Only if you drive (or sail). The card won’t provide entrance if you fly to another country.

    2. “The vast majority of Americans don’t have passports.”


      “I’m a snooty liberal fucktard who looks down my nose at those I consider inferior.”

      1. Seriously… You mean you can’t afford to summer in the French Riviera? Fucking commoner.

        Of course, on the other hand, I was shocked to learn that my neighbor’s vacation to Disneyland cost pretty much the same as my vacation to Scotland.

        1. Im shocked at how much many vacations cost.

          When I vacation, I prefer a beach to be involved. When its in the US, I rent a beachhouse. Much, much, much cheaper than a hotel.

          Of course, you have to travel with friends to make it worthwhile, but even a beachhouse for 6 is dirt cheap.

        2. If you time it right, a flight from NY to Madrid is cheaper than a flight from NY to Minneapolis.

      2. Lets see, 20% of Americans travel abroad each year. A vast majority, lets say, 70%, dont have passports.

        Hmm, how do we fit 20% into 30%?

        1. Where do you think the national debt comes from?

    3. You’re like a domestic abuse victim who’s too stupid and dependent on attention to know when to GTFO.

      Deep down inside, you love the beatings.

    4. The vast majority of Americans don’t need passports. Our entire country takes up around half of North America. The nearest foreign country is hundreds if not 1,000s of miles away from most of us.

      1. Exactly. I can drive farther and not leave my state than most Europeans can without leaving their country.

        1. The County I live in is larger than quite a few New England states

  14. And they’re laughing at you because they’re your banker for the PermaWar.

    1. And they’re laughing at you because they’re your banker for the PermaWarWelfare.

    2. If we actually get in a war with them or go bankrupt, who is going to feel stupid, the ones who made bad loans that they can’t collect, or the ones who got free money?

      1. Wow you’re really ignorant.

        Do you know what happens to third world countries (like the US will be when that happens) when they can’t pay their debts?

        You’ll end up with an austerity program imposed on you and run by Beijing.

        1. We’ll get to see what happens to the EU countries first at this rate, and I suspect that there will be different rules for rich, powerful, and big countries.

        2. Or we’ll default, leaving China holding the bag.

          Of course, they’ll have the option of spending an insane amoutn of blood and treasure to try to cross an ocean and get it back. Maybe that’ll take care of their billions of rural poor.

          1. It certainly would take care of there surplus male population, though I suspect our Navy is still powerful enough make sure they all end up being chum.

          2. It’ll give them something to do.

        3. but a little scolding….

    3. And they’re laughing at you because they’re your banker for the PermaWar.

      I’ve got a little secret for you: they were for a while, but they’re not any more.

      Benevolent bearded bigwig Ben Bernanke is our banker now. And that sucker is dropping federal reserve notes from the helipcopter like napalm on a north Vietnamese village.

  15. As someone who has traveled a bit, I find people like Bloomburg’s ignorance appalling. Traveling around in first class hobknobbing with elites is not “traveling” in any meaningful sense of the word. Visiting Europe really doesn’t give you that great of a perspective because it is still Western and modern and so much like America. The only kind of traveling that gives you any perspective is traveling in the Middle East or Eastern Europe or the poorer areas Asia or Africa where the culture and the life is truly different and alien to ours. That will give you an education. Going to Disneyland for rich people, i.e. Paris, while really fun, is not a particularly broadening experience.

    1. That’s an excellent point, though as somebody who studied abroad in Germany in college I would argue that even Western Europe can give one a better perspective of the global community in which we live. But I particularly agree with your point about truly experiencing a foreign culture. Something as simple as staying at a neighborhood bed and breakfast instead of an international hotel can help you to get an idea of what it’s like to actually live in a place rather than doing the usual tourist schtick.

      1. There is a difference between visiting a country and actually experiencing it. The Marriott looks the same in New York, Berlin, Kuwait City, and Peking. I guarantee you Bloomburg has no idea how normal people anywhere actually live.

      2. Yeah, I worked in Switzerland in the early 90s. Doing the day to day stuff in a non-tourist town is truly experiencing the culture.

        Result: Swiss are americans with a slightly poorer grasp of English than most Kentuckians. And more tank traps.

        Maybe I drew the wrong lesson.

        1. Nope. Most of Western Europe is just America with a bunch of Europeans living there.

          1. so it’s better.

    2. As the former CEO of a multi-billion dollar global media organization, I’m pretty sure Bloomberg has been to boatloads of countries and has had to interact with a lot more cultures than you’re giving him credit for. Having to cut deals with executives and local bureaucrats, opening new international offices, etc. gives you a lot more insight into a country than going on guided tours and drinking at a local pub.

    3. Plus, all those poor people are bringing their culture here, so why do I have to go anywhere? Now, if only i could get some Shwarma delivered, I’d be set…

    4. Actually I think visiting Europe is still good for American perspective to see how not-different they really are.

      AND THEN expand on that perspective by going elsewhere.

    5. From what I’ve heard, it also helps if you have sex with local prostitutes. Midget encounters are especially edifying.

  16. Moustache! Moustache!

    btw, you may want to have your webmaster take a look at the site on a Mac with the Safari browser. Your site has become suddenly unusable to Mac users.

    1. it sucks on Firefox as well.

      1. It was wonky on Firefox the first time I loaded the page this morning but after reloading the browser it looks fine to me.

        1. Ditto, although it wasnt immediate reload, it was about an hour.

          Firefox on Linux though.

      2. It looks bad on IE also.

  17. Since it is much more difficult for the Chinese to get a visa, and not very difficult at all for USians unless they wish for some weird reason to visit Iran or North Korea, I think that figure is pretty damning of USians.

    Why don’t we compare the percentage of French who travel abroad vs. USians? English? Germans?

    1. Since it is much more difficult for the Chinese to get a visa,

      But this is not damning of the Chinese at all. Nosiree.

      Why don’t we compare the percentage of French who travel abroad vs. USians? English? Germans?

      If by “travel abroad” you mean “travel outside the EU”, that would interesting to see.

      1. Plenty of Europeans go to Thailand. Poverty-porn and child rape tours are big business in the EU.

        1. Having lived in Thailand for four years, I can confirm this. You couldn’t swing a stick in Bangkok without hitting some Scandinavian, and Sodom Pattaya is one giant safehouse for the Russian Mafia.

    2. Are we counting other EU states as “other countries” or not?

      1. The EU is not a single country any more than the OAS or NAFTA is, even though I wish this weren’t so.

        1. EU has a constitution. NAFTA doesnt.

        2. EU is a shared currency and central banking.
          NAFTA is not.

          1. Also, a shared bureaucracy.

        3. Some people have brains.
          No U$A doesn’t.

        4. The point is, if we’re not counting travel from Idaho to Louisiana as international travel, how can we count travel from France to Switzerland?

    3. I assume you’d say that a Parisian visiting Florence is more meaningful than a man from Dallas visiting Miami, even though the trip from Dallas to Miami is almost twice as far, right?

      1. Honestly I think that Dallas and Miami are more culturally different than Florence and Paris. I mean Miami is like a third world country…

        1. Dallas must be fourth or fifth then…

        2. Dallas must be fourth or fifth then…

          1. Move up to west Plano, since it’s going to about third world status lately. Still a little nicer..

  18. 22% have passports…..assport-2/

    1. My 30% was off a bit.

      So almost everyone who has a passport uses it. Makes sense, my passport expired in 2001 and I didnt get a new one until this year, when I was going to need it again.

      I did travel out of the country once, but in 2003 the Bahamas still accepted birth certificates for entry.

  19. Matt, seriously, I’m no fan of Friedman, and you have certainly enlightened me to his stupidity, but seriously, it’s starting to feel like you have some sort of inferiority complex or something. I’m pretty sure none of my liberal friends read him anymore, and these blog posts are really pissing into the wind.

    1. I’m pretty sure none of my liberal friends read him anymore, and these blog posts are really pissing into the wind.

      So pissing with the wind, then?

    2. I like being informed on Friedman’s insanity without having to actually wade through it myself. It’s endlessly amusing.

      1. Totally, it’s not so funny when you’re up to your thighs in crazy.

    3. And yet this is the second-most emailed article on

  20. Oh, and Chinese are expected to be the most travelled country in the world in sheer numbers by 2012. The outward bound growth annually is substantial as their economy grows

    1. they have nearly two billion people. Being the most traveled by “sheer numbers” really doesn’t say much.

      I just don’t get the weirdo cheer leading for China. I think China is headed for huge problems in the coming years and is a paper tiger. But even if I am wrong, I can’t understand why anyone would view the prospect of such a repulsive oppressive regime being successful on the world stage with such seeming glee. If you love freedom, you have to hope China reforms or fails spectacularly.

      1. I think China the United States is headed for huge problems in the coming years and is a paper tiger.


        1. Wishful thinking doesn’t count as analysis.

          1. 1. Debt/GDP rising to 100%.
            2. Interest on debt rising to 15% of Federal budget.
            3. Trade deficit pushing $1T per year.
            4. Military spending pushing $1T per year.
            5. Income inequality at highest level on 60 years.
            6. Dysfunctional financial markets destroying savings, retire and investment money.
            7. Health care costs 50% higher than competitive economies with 30% fewer Americans covered.

          2. Not to mention inability to assimilate immigrants from Latin America.

            1. I know. They all live in ghettos outside of the center city, don’t speak the language and burn thousands of cars and riot every year or so. Oh wait that is Paris I am thinking about. In San Antonio and other American cities, Latin American immigrants start businesses and inter marry and by the second or third generation don’t even speak Spanish anymore.

              1. Don’t speak the language!? What? Even Algerians in Algeria know French! Idiot.

                1. Yeah and Algerians are the only unassimilated minority in Europe. Every time you open you mouth, you get look a little dumber. And that is no mean feat.

                2. You are so sophomoric.

            2. How’s China gonna assimilate their rural poor when GDP growth slows even a tad?

            3. Not to mention inability to assimilate immigrants from Latin America.

              Do you even live in the US?

              1. Quite obviously not. I’m thinking Euro-hipster-prog-douchebag.

            4. Dude, of all the dumb things you’ve said this is perhaps the dumbest. Let me walk out back to the plant and throw a rock. Chances are I’ll hit a first or second generation Latin American immigrant who’s assimilating just fine in that he has a job, speaks some English, and is a contributing member of society.

              Although you may have to be flexible on your definition of “some English”.

            5. Despite the tension of “Mexicans taking our jobs!” there has been very little violence between Latino and Anglo Americans. I live in the rural Southeast and my local community has a large Latino population, but I’ve never seen a confrontation between the two groups. Most of the second generation kids speak English better than Spanish. There is some problems with Latino gangs being involved in drug trafficking but that stuff is going to happen as long there is a War on Drugs.

        2. It’s true of both – and for very similar reasons!

      2. If you love freedom, you have to hope China reforms or fails spectacularly.


        John, You do not have to stoke the “Fear of china” fires to understand Friedman is an idiot.

        A socially repressive china that pulls 10 million poeple out of poverty each year is better then a failed China any day of the week.

        Plus I tend to think as china gets richer it will be forced to reform one way or the other.

        One does not have to hope for the fall of china to find Friedman’s sucking the cock of repression repulsive.

        Plus his narrative is fucked up. he claims that china is great because of its repressive centralized government. The reality is that all of its economic reforms came from the ground up. It was not a product of wise planners but is a product of a decentralized movement of people improving their own lives. I do not think wishing for the failure of that is something I can support….and is nearly as repulsive as what Friedman is doing.

        1. I don’t want china to stand as a successful model of authoritarianism. If china succeeds without reforming, the message will be that you don’t need political freedom to attain economic prosperity. That is a terrible message to send to the world.

          1. Look at China’s GDP per capita and you’ll see that their “economic prosperity” is still pretty thin.

            But to your point about authoritarianism — economic authoritarianism has *never* lead to economic prosperity for the majority of a country’s citizens. They just isn’t compatible.

            You can however, have individual authoritarianism with economic freedom and that can lead to economic prosperity (see Singapore).

            1. isn’t/aren’t. I talk pretty.

          2. I am no fan of authoritarianism.

            But when it was economic authoritarianism and Social authoritarianism and it now is only social authoritarianism that is a net gain.

            Plus you sound a little like a greenpeace fucker who is more worried about banning DDT on principle then about the Malaria that kills people.

            The poverty China had and has is bone crushing. To want to avoid a successful model at the expense of that magnitude of human suffering seems a bit trite.

            Anyway either you believe in libertarianism or you do not. Either economic freedom leads in the long run to social freedom which leads to a more stable government and society or it does not.

            If you believe it doesn’t then what the fuck are we doing here?

            We may as well be ants.

    2. Oh, and Chinese are expected to be the most travelled country in the world in sheer numbers by 2012.

      I expect they are the least travelled country by sheer numbers for millenia, and that won’t change anytime soon.

  21. Another reason why USians can’t travel is because they only get two weeks paid vacation (at best) and given the shrinking middle class in your country (and the skyrocketing costs of your healthcare and tuition) traveling abroad would bankrupt the typical USian family, whereas in Europe it would not.

    1. PPP figures and cost of living disagree with you. Unless you’re talking about vacations of smaller distance than many intra-USA trips.

      1. PPP figures are meaningless when most of the wealth is owned by the top 1%.

        Look at median family income. It’s stagnant. Real wages in your country have been flat since 1972.

        1. And yet that median income is still higher than the EU countries, and far higher than China.

          1. I was really amazed at how poor the French were. Computers were like 5 years behind, still using dial up (it was ’98, so really, my part of america hadn’t been on broadband THAT long…but this was a Parisian suburb…)

            Sure, the family car was a Benz…but it was like 10years old.

            Not that any of that ruined the fun of drunken summer partying, Frog-style.

    2. Try harder.

    3. My God you are a moron. I lived in Germany, the richest country in Europe for almost two years in the 00s. The German standard of living, especially for young professionals, was way lower than the US. I had a g/f who was a stewardess for Luftanza. She had a small apartment in Frankfurt, no car and barely got by. Another friend of mine was the manager of a restaurant at a swank Frankfurt hotel. She shared an apartment with her sister in a lousy area of town. She got her visa and got the same job in L.A. and immediately moved into a bigger apartment of her own and bought a car. There is just no comparison between the average standard of living in the US and in Europe. Anyone who has actually lived in and understands both places knows that.

      You are clearly an ignoramus trolling in your mom’s basement who has never been anywhere or if you have, didn’t pay any attention.

      1. Uh, she would have to buy a car in LA because there’s no or little mass transit.

        The USian “standard of living” is built on a mountain of debt and cheap crap imported from China. Europeans don’t get into as much consumer debt as USians. Europeans don’t buy McMansions they can’t afford. USians may have more plastic crap from China in their homes and bigger McMansions made with Chinese drywall, but Europeans have free college tuition, free healthcare, long periods of paid vacation, better retirement benefits, etc.

        1. You forgot the part about higher unemployment rates…

          1. Europe has lower unemployment rates now.

            1. Europe has lower unemployment rates now.

              Please link. It was my impression that Euro unemployment rates were still safely in the double digits.

              1. But unemployment is one area where progressives have already succeeded in making the US more like Europe.

              2. Germany has a pretty good unemployment rate.

                Of course they got that by cutting spending cutting welfare and labor laws and other austerity measures.

                So yeah we should be more like Germany.

                1. So yeah we should be more like Germany.

                  Inverted Godwin?

                  1. Don’t you dare go there!!!

                    Germany 2010 ? Germany 1939

        2. That is why every person under thirty there was trying to get a VISA to come to the US. And all of Europe is on the brink of bankruptcy. Those retirements are not going to be there. And what plastic crap are you talking about? Ipods? computers? TVs? I like all that stuff. And so do Europeans. And every European I knew wanted to own a car. There were millions of them. In fact, there are actual car companies in Europe, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Citrone, you might have heard of them.

          Do you honestly think every European desires to live in a small apartment and take the subway to work rather than having a home and a nice car? You are laughably ignorant. I wish you were trolling. But sadly, I think you are serious.

          Seriously, you really must put a lot of effort in being such a stupid and uninformed provincial. Your kind of ignorance can’t come easily.

          1. Who needs free college tuition when you can have a plasma screen, right, John? Much better to be up to your neck in student loans and have that iPod!


            1. Much better to riot about education cuts when the bond market decides to charge a risk premium.

            2. College is overrated. I know a lot of people who go to college and get worthless degrees. The government shouldn’t being paying for that.

            3. Plasma TV is useful, uni is less so, in large part.

          2. Who cares about collapsing bridges and crumbling airports? You have more iPods!!

            1. Pretty sure we have a winner in the brain-dead non-sequitur competition.

            2. Which hate group do you belong to? You seem to hate everybody.

              1. Sorry, but as President of the Universal Hate Club, I can confirm that NoU$A is not a member.

      2. There is just no comparison between the average standard of living in the US and in Europe.

        I went to France to visit my GF at the time and stayed at her parents house for a couple of days. Her father was a doctor and when i did my laundry i was told not to use the Dryer because the water and electricity was too expensive.

        In the US even a the fry guy at McDonald’s does not worry about the cost of drying his cloths in the dryer.

    4. This is a pretty stupid comment. There is no need for americans to travel “abroad” to go to the beach, the mountains, a wide assortment of National Parks, not to mention a diverse selection of cities, all without leaving their own country. You can’t do that if you live in Ireland, or Greece, or wherever. Not to mention the fact that the Euros aren’t having any children so they can all indulge in a lot of “foreign” travel without all the added trouble and expense of something so pedetrian as children. Which of course is hilarious because eventually their entire culture will disintegrate without any actual Europeans.

    5. Wait, wait, so which is it–Americans don’t travel abroad because they’re dumb, illiterate, and uncultured; or they don’t travel abroad because they don’t have the time or money? Make up your mind because one is very different from the other.

      1. Wait, wait, so which is it–Americans don’t travel abroad because they’re dumb, illiterate, and uncultured; or they don’t travel abroad because they don’t have the time or money?

        The irony of course is that americans do travel a lot. I know when i got my drivers license and summer or spring break would happen i would simply start driving. I would end up in California or Nevada or Montana….pretty much anywhere in the west.

        Then in my early 20 i would end up as a roady for some punk rock band and again see all of the west.

        Somehow I doubt much of that happens in Europe. The biggest thing they do is take a train to a soccer game every 4 years or end up in Amsterdam for a weekend.

        It should also be pointed out Welch did end up in Europe in his youth when the Berlin Wall came down.

        Seriously did NOUSA even read Gen X? Did he live in Portland or Seattle in his 20s and everyone he met was from the east coast or the midwest or the south? and everyone of them had stories about traveling to Europe or the Far East?

    6. Damn I was kind of hoping John’s new foil was not a complete moron.

      You do realize that traveling to Mexico or Canada is cheaper then going to Disneyland or Vagas right?

  22. Whenever I read Friedman anymore, I’m reminded of the novel “We”. If Friedman read it, I’m sure he would cite the fictional authoritarian society as a model of excellence.

  23. You people responding to No U$A know you’re being trolled by kenneth, right?

    1. They don’t care. We only have each other, Warty.

    2. They’ll figure it out eventually.

    3. I’m so bored with the U$A.

      1. -1 for failing to link to The Clash.

        1. meh. Not one of their better songs anyhow. This is better.

          1. Ironically, though, it’s Steve Jones and not Sid Vicious who fucks up the song.

            1. I am blocked from Youtube. Which song?

              1. A live version of Anarchy in the USA.

    4. You people responding to No U$A know you’re being trolled by kenneth, right?



      Who is Kenneth?

    5. No USA is more coherent than Kenneth, I think.

      1. Kenneth was earnest, No U$A is snarky. Could be the same person, if it’s a troll, but not if it’s someone’s actual persona.

  24. Or one really, really small one?

    I heard Volkswagen ashtrays are surprisingly capacious.

  25. Tommy boy really did phone it in today, didn’t he?

  26. No U$A,

    How much does being the Hit & Run village idiot pay?

  27. I didn’t get this far past Teh Stoopid:

    Things are going well here for China. America remains a deeply politically polarized country, which is certainly helpful for our goal of overtaking the U.S. as the world’s most powerful economy and nation.

    So he’s saying that authoritarian one-party rule helps economic progress?


    1. The mask slips. Except these people never really bothered to wear one.

    2. Exactly right. I’m reading Churchill’s WWII opus right now and it struck me how he viewed opposition and debate as positive goods even in, and possibly especially, during time of war. So much so that, even as Malaya and Singapore were about to fall to the Japanese, he set up a stout three-day debate followed by a vote of confidence in Parliament.

      Friedman would surely have seen this as weakness and division to be decried in favor of ukases handed down from on high from some perfect being or group of beings who can magically sense the needs of the nation. He’s a boot-licking toady.

      1. Germany and the USSR certainly had unified commands. There wasn’t a lot of dissent going on there. And as a result they make horrific mistakes and wasted the lives of millions because of the egos of their leaders. Mistakes and waste of life happens in every war. But when you have an authoritarian system with no dissent, there is nothing there to check such mistakes. So they wind up being much worse.

        1. And as a result they make horrific mistakes and wasted the lives of millions because of the egos of their leaders.

          The Allies had Montgomery and Patton at each other’s throats for most of 1944…

  28. Why is any one responding to this No U$A troll anymore?

    He has done nothing but display his ignorance of anything to do with the US since he wandered in here. Lost from where, I can’t tell.

    1. Probably lost from the moronic convergence at LGF

    2. Because Tony is all the troll-porn I need.

  29. (remember, this is written in the supposed voice of a Chinese diplomat in Washington)

    Then shouldn’t it be “obrivious”?

  30. they have nearly two billion people.

    Google says China has one and a third billion citizens (unless they are lying their asses off about the number of citizens).

    1. It’s two billion. Women aren’t counted in the census. Fuck ’em. They should just feel lucky they weren’t left out on in a field to die of exposure as an infant.

      1. Yeah, that two to one young male to young female ratio is going to work out so well for them. Huge numbers of horny young men with no prospects of marriage do wonders for societal stability.

        1. Its useful for conquest of India.

          1. Or the attempted conquest of India is a useful way to eliminate surplus males. I don’t think India would go too quietly.

            1. Yeah, the Sikhs are not people you want to fuck with.

        2. Hopefully Tom will be there for Boxer Rebellion 2: Christmas In Beijing.

          1. You may be onto something. Maybe Tom just read The Diamond Age too many times and now he wants to get in good with the next Boxers.

            1. Freidman’s personality, I would peg him panting for Sailor Moon, but Mouse Brigade works too.

        3. it advances the “Homosexual Agenda”!!!!1

        4. It’s currently 117:100 at birth, which is not that much different from the “natural” ratio of about 107:100.

  31. Friedman’s travels to China have obviously been of the 5-star hotel variety in Beijing and Shanghai. When you’re feted by the Communist Party and industrial elites in China, it really does look this way. But, if one travels outside of Beijing and the coastal metropoli, away from the 5-star hotels and the Chinese elites, one sees a completely different China. It ain’t the China that Friedman describes here, and it encompasses a much larger population than the Chinese elites.

    That said, he’s right about the relative intelligence and technical competence of Chinese leaders versus the lawyers who occupy positions of power in the US. But his comments on the propensity of engineers and scientists in political office to obsess over climate change is ill-founded. Scientists & Engineers in America (SEA) lists about 45 Congress members with at least one degree in science or engineering. Only eight of these are on record at the SEA site as having any interest in advocating climate change legislation. John Dingell is among the eight. Though he’s advanced the idea of a carbon tax to embarrass the advocates, he’s actually been strongly opposed to Cap’n Tax. The strongest and most vocal advocates of Cap’n Tax and other draconian climate change legislation are lawyers, not scientists and engineers.

    see…..s-by-type/ for info about Congress members with a degree in science or engineering

    Friedman’s delusions about Chinese concerns over climate change are as bad James Fallows’ over at The Atlantic. Their delusions suggest that the Chinese government can make American journalists with history degrees believe anything.

    1. This. Everybody I know who has been to China recently and isn’t a slobbering sycophantic douchebag says that the air is so polluted in most of the big cities that you can barely breathe.

      1. I’ve been to China several times over the past 25 years. My anecdotal experience is that palpable air and water quality initially deteriorated after the early 80s, but has improved over the past decade. I know for a fact that pollution controls at most industrial facilities are far less sophisticated than the US, but that the worldscale facilities recently constructed are or at least approach best available technology. Of course, those pollution controls only address real pollutants, not CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The Chinese engineers that I’ve dealt with are indeed concerned about minimizing, controlling, and reducing real pollution, but are much less concerned about CO2 except insofar as it relates to minimizing the energy-related operating expenses.

    2. My sister seemed to think it was about the worst, most disgusting place she’d ever seen.

      My sister is a pediatric oncologist, so she knows awful, depressing, and gross upside down backwards and sideways. It still grossed her out.

    3. Most of the leaders of the American Revolution were lawyers by training, so was Lincoln. The President of Iran is an engineer. I don’t think occupation really has any correlation to how well you will do at governing.

      1. The two 20th Century US presidents with engineering degrees: Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

        OTH, George Washington was arguably a civil engineer. At least he knew how to survey and design fortifications and buildings.

      2. Er, the US was an overwhelmingly agricultural country at the time of the revolution. There weren’t that many engineers or scientists here, period. People who were good with innovation and deduction at that time had few options to put those skills to use other than practicing law.

    4. You don’t even nee dto go that far outside the cities to see how the other half lives in China. I passed many a mind-bogglingly poor patch on the train not 10 minutes outside Beijing and Shanghai.

  32. Did Friedman even read the cables?

    They pretty much reveal that Sino-American relations are friendlier than we thought. The Chinese come across as friendly, clueless, and afraid to offend anybody by rocking the boat rather than some Orietnal supervillan.

    But nevermind. Friedman thinks Fu Manchu will enslave us all!

    1. …which, heh, kind of fits with my experience of Chinese people in personal relationships. Same traits.

    2. No. Friedman hopes Fu Manchu will enslave us all.

      The more I think about it, Friedman’s entire career over the last five years has really been one long cry out for an Asian dominatrix.

      1. Ha!

        Really it’s like he didn’t even read the cables, and just assumed they revealed the machinations of Fu Manchu/the Yellow Peril.

        I was actually pleased that they support a unified Korea from the South and even really don’t care about American troops being stationed there (as long as they don’t come near the Chinese border, understandably).

      2. Friedman hopes Fu Manchu will enslave us all.

        More specifically, he wants to live under Chinese rule–he just doesn’t want to have to learn Mandarin.

        1. And the fact that he doesn’t speak Mandarin should tell us that he doesn’t know much about China. You can’t truly understand a country until you speak the native language, which is why there are are a lot of British-born journalists working for US publications but not very many French or Germans.

          1. That is a great point. If you can’t speak the language, you can’t read the newspapers or watch the mass media. You also self select the people you interact with. Poor or lower income people or immigrants are less likely to speak English.

            The other thing about an Asian country is that it is impossible for a Westerner to blend in. In Germany, unless I dressed in some loud American getup, no one around me would know I wasn’t a German unless I opened my mouth and they heard my English accent. You hear some interesting conversations in public if you can understand the language and blend in. In China, there is no way for someone like Friedman to do that even if he did speak the language.

  33. I’ll bet you a bunch of these people don’t have passports.

    I remember thinking how much better I was than a neighbor kid because I had home movies starring me and he did not have any. I was four at the time, so what is Mike Bloomberg’s excuse?

    1. You have evoked lulz. Thanks.

  34. Finally, record numbers of U.S. high school students are now studying Chinese, which should guarantee us a steady supply of cheap labor that speaks our language here, as we use our $2.3 trillion in reserves to quietly buy up U.S. factories. In sum, things are going well for China in America.

    Did Friedman just write that studying the foreign language of a huge trade partner with the US by US students is a bad thing for the US?

    Yes I think he just did.

    1. Also, are the Japanese and European companies that have built plants paying low wages. They might be compared to the unsustainable old Big three model (wages will have to come down or they’ll be in bankruptcy again – competition’s a bitch, get used to it) but they’re generally higher than most industrial wages, as tends to be the case in the the auto industry everywhere in the world.

      And the whole “oh noes the Chinese investing in the American economy is going to really hurt American workers.”

      How, Tom? Look at any period of American history and if it was a prosperous one it was because foreigners were investing here.

      It takes an extreme level of xenophobia and god knows what else to believe that if the Chinese get rich we’ll become worse off.

  35. Tom Friedman stands in front of a broken gadget that looks like a map of the USA with cogs and springs busting through it. He hides a wrench labeled New Great Society Deal of Keynes, Inc. behind his back.

    Caption reads:
    ‘It’s Freedom’s Fault!’

  36. How many of those “foreign trips” were to Canada?

    And how many of the froreign trips that the German or French people took that they needed passports for were to Orlando so they could go to Disney World because it’s more fun than anywhere in Europe and cheaper to boot.

    Hell, we don’t need to travel to meet Eurotrash. We can get our fill of the bastards right here. And guess what, meeting some pasty fat German tourist family in a store on International Drive does absoluterly to convince anyone of Europe’s cultural superiority.

    The vast majority of Americans don’t have passports.

    You don’t need a passport to travel inside the greatest country on earth. 🙂 That’s just a more polite way of saying fuck you.

    And, so what if America isn’t the greatest country in the world? Immigration statistics kind of suggest that a whole lot of people in the world think it is.

  37. According to the Centers for Disease Control, some 60 million Americans, or one-fifth the population, travel abroad each year.

    Spring break trips to Cancun and Amsterdam don’t count.

    1. Why not, that’s precisely the kinds of trips that make up the majority of the ones those culturally superior Europeans are all taking.

      See, for example, English yobs making a nuisance of themselves in the Greek islands or just about any other place. of course, the English aren’t really considered Europeans unless someone decides they should be for the purposes of what ever talking points he needs.

  38. I don’t know whether the Chinese population is more worldly than the American one, but China can do things without the consent of the peasantry. Ours must be pandered to constantly. It would be better if we were more informed about the world. I suspect that our status as a superpower with a chip on its shoulder has led to a certain negligent attitude with respect to international issues. Not that we’re particularly well informed about domestic issues in this country either. Or science, math, and history.

    1. Would you really support the Red Guard and 45 million deaths to achieve your dream society?

    2. Tony, I found you actually making a sort of good point there once I waded through the morass of generalizations and stereotyping.

      But, I have to ask after considering your ruminations on Joe Sixpack, have you ever met any blue collar Pierres or Dieters. Or Luigis or Svens?

      Because you’ll mostly find those fellers every bit a provincial and narrow minded as Joe Sixpack is. With pretty much all the same superstitions and conspiracy theories.

    3. “but China can do things without the consent of the peasantry”

      and the mask slips.

      1. Liberals aren’t elitist at all, right?

        It also illuminated how undemocratic the “progressive” mind is. Apparently elections are just “pandering to peasants”

  39. I lived in China for years, and anyone who thinks it is leaving us behind hasn’t been there much, and/or hasn’t seen much outside of Shanghai or Beijing.

    1. Are you a white guy?

      How hard is it for a white guy (who can only speak English) to live in china?

  40. In a US Senate testimony, as of 2006, there were only 68 million passports issued in USA. How can almost all the passport holders all go abroad EVERY YEAR? I think the figures from CDC needs evidential support.….._2922.html

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