Sunday, February 25, 2007


By Ivan G. Goldman

Back when I was in the newspaper business, there was a saying repeatedly applied to the subject of idiots or tyrants at the news helm: when your ticket is punched, it's punched.

Once you reached the upper echelons of the swine-shit factory, this brought certain entitlements. So even when an editor, for example, who was only moderately talented to begin with drank six martinis for lunch, he still had the right to return to the newsroom and edit your copy. In fact, it was possible for him to talk his way into a bigger job at a bigger paper because what the heck, his ticket was punched.

Thomas L. Freidman is a newspaper guy whose ticket is punched. He’s a New York Times columnist and omnipresent talking head. As far as I know, he doesn't drink six martinis for lunch, but in his case, it couldn't hurt. This pretentious schnook gets it all wrong but looks -- and to the uninitiated -- even sounds like someone who knows what he’s talking about.

Friedman cheer-led us into a pointless war in Iraq, and when everything went wrong fast, he wrote one moronic column after another on how just a little tinkering with Bush's essentially correct policy would likely turn everything around in “the next six months.” He wrote that just about every six months without ever referring to the previous claim six months earlier. Like Bush, like Shotgun Cheney, like steel-eyed, vengeful Hillary, Friedman’s never wrong, never apologizes.

Word is out that this pudgy pissant now commands a $75,000 speaking fee. Why, one might ask, would chumps pay such a price for his opinions when they’re more likely to extract wisdom from the lady on the next stool at Denny’s? It all has to do with the punch on his ticket.

Friedman, who expounds without accuracy on the meaning of events twice a week in The Times, also writes best-selling books that relentlessly fail to perceive the situation. In The Earth is Flat, he practically giggles over all the lovely gifts this new global economy bestows on us without examining why American wages have remained stagnant for thirty years and why all those cheap electronic gadgets from China that drove out the competition with slave wages don’t actually work very well.

Here are some telling statistics gathered last year by Derrick Z. Jackson of The Boston Globe, which, ironically, is owned by Friedman's employer.

The Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy, the two liberal think tanks that annually chart the gap between CEOs and workers, list the gap in 2005 at 431-to-1, or $11.8 million to $27,460. That compares with a gap of 107-to-1 in 1990. In 1980, it was only 42-to-1. If salaries of the average worker had kept up with that of a CEO, he or she would have made $110,136 last year. Had the minimum wage risen at the same pace as CEO compensation, it would have stood at $23.01. But the federal minimum wage of $5.15 hasn't risen since 1997.
I mean, aren’t these danger signals? Shouldn’t Freidman's publisher, at least, bring to his attention the fact that his pretentious blather misses the whole point of what’s going on? Shouldn't we be examining ways to make the system work better for people instead of Halliburton and Exxon-Mobil? Isn't it past time to stop listening to Friedman's advice on Iraq?
But his employers clearly see the advantages of hiring a guy to shovel swine shit who doesn't ever seem to smell it.


savannah said...

well said! after i read from beirut to jerusalem, ok, after i got half way through it, i realised he wan't talking about the middle east i knew/understood, but one that he imagined/envisioned. i found myself responding out loud, but i digress...thanks for the read.

found you via slingingink...your comment was the same reaction i had..anyway, thanks for the read and the link to the cjr piece

Ivan G. Goldman said...

My sister bought me that same book and I found it unreadable. Thanks for the positive feedback. Slingingink? That a tattoo blog?

savannah said...

you're welcome