Sunday, May 04, 2008

Yabba Dabba Do

I haven't done more than glance at Tom Friedman's stuff in years. But he nails this:

A few weeks ago, my wife and I flew from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Singapore. In J.F.K.’s waiting lounge we could barely find a place to sit. Eighteen hours later, we landed at Singapore’s ultramodern airport, with free Internet portals and children’s play zones throughout. We felt, as we have before, like we had just flown from the Flintstones to the Jetsons. If all Americans could compare Berlin’s luxurious central train station today with the grimy, decrepit Penn Station in New York City, they would swear we were the ones who lost World War II.

From infrastructure to culture and just about everything in between, sometime around the turn of the millennium this country got horizontal on a sofa with the remote control and a big bowl of chips on its chest. Which presidential candidate stands the best chance of changing that?

36 Comments:

Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

TCR:
Are you starting to turn all socialist on us? ;-)

5/04/2008 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friedman has been on a bit of a roll lately. I have been disappointed in him for his "just another 6 months" stuff for the last several years. But this piece is good, plus his bit on Hillary's pandering re the gas tax is spot on also.

GW Bush has shown us that he doesn't listen to economists, and how's that been working for us? Now HRC is taking the same tack?

Go Barry......

Whammer

5/04/2008 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post.

I think TCR is one of those "Obamicans" we keep hearing about =)

5/04/2008 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, but they pay something like a 65% tax rate. And the government takes your guns.

5/04/2008 10:02 PM  
Anonymous am4 said...

The trillion dollars spent on the war in Iraq--the war for which Friedman was a primary media cheerleader--could have paid for a lot of airport play zones. If Friedman had any shame, he'd never publish again.

And please remember his "Suck. On. This." analysis anytime you're tempted to think of him as a serious person.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOF6ZeUvgXs

5/04/2008 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is absolutely true.

I was recently in Berlin. As in all of Europe, things simply work, and look good doing so.

New York is a great city, but it's falling apart. As is most of the US.

5/04/2008 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anne Laurie said...

Yeah, but they pay something like a 65% tax rate. And the government takes your guns.

And for that 65%, the Berliners get efficient, even attractive, public infrastructure -- not to mention 'universal' health care and educational services that put all but the very top tier of American private services to shame. Since I am not a corporation, my spouse & I are paying at least 45% of my income to the American authorities, and if you add what we & our employers spend on the most bare-bones health insurance, it probably comes to 65% *without* such socialist frills as public transport or training the next generation.

5/05/2008 12:19 AM  
Blogger wendyo said...

....well, yeah, but WE GET GUNS.

5/05/2008 12:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, forget Penn, but i'd but Grand Central Terminal up against any station in Europe.

Friedman is a tell-tale, he points to whichever way the wind is blowing. 5 years ago he was all about re-building the mid-east to look like us. Now he's saying the opposite.

I loathe him, even when i agree with him.

5/05/2008 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans don't like infrastructure.

It is un-sexy and long term. There are no quick results that can be pointed to and they are very expensive. Of course they notice it when it fails (Katrina with the levees) and the go to places where investments in infrastructure have been made recently.

5/05/2008 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which candidate stands the best chance of changing this sorry state of affairs?

Well, Giuliani would have made the trains run on time ...

-Jamey

5/05/2008 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hehe, Jamey, good one.

We continue to flush money down the rathole of the military industrial complex, while other countries spend their money on more productive pursuits. Imagine how Eisenhower would be perceived today if he coined that phrase -- "military industrial complex"? He'd be branded a commie pinko Islamofascist lover. Oy.

Don't forget how many kids get to go to college for free/cheap in Europe also.......

Whammer

5/05/2008 12:50 PM  
Anonymous mary said...

I sure hope Friedman is a tell-tale on this. Because you know it's been 25+ years of "the government is the problem, not the solution" now, and the country's infrastructure has paid quite a price. Not just mass transit but roads and bridges and levees and water mains and libraries schools and any and all public space . . .

5/05/2008 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Mike Molloy said...

From infrastructure to culture and just about everything in between, sometime around the turn of the millennium this country got horizontal on a sofa with the remote control and a big bowl of chips on its chest.

I'd date it to about 1981, with the election of Saint Ronnie and his aptly named (by George HW Bush!) Voodoo Economics.

5/05/2008 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I live in at state where a major interstate bridge just plain fell down. But our Republican governor retains a surprisingly high popularity level in part because he signed and (mostly) stuck to a no new taxes pledge. I think Americans don't get the idea that there is a correlation between tax rates and the quality of government services.

5/05/2008 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep!. "Because you know it's been 25+ years of "the government is the problem, not the solution" now, and the country's infrastructure has paid quite a price."

Selfishness proliferated. "I'd date it to about 1981, with the election of Saint Ronnie."

The Republican slogan "Guns, God, and Taxes", says nothing about a strong and sustainable Nation and required infrastructure and institutions. They'd rather take it by force, or lease, sell, and outsource it to God, Dubai, China, India... because they won't do it themselves, and they don't want our own citizens to do it.

5/05/2008 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Friedman is a tell-tale, he points to whichever way the wind is blowing."

I have a suspicion there is some truth to this. Seems popular among some vocal personalities.

5/05/2008 5:05 PM  
Blogger Mr. Hedley Bowes said...

"Americans don't like infrastructure.

It is un-sexy and long term. There are no quick results that can be pointed to..."


Ask those folks who used to work at the construction companies building the homes they bought but now have to give up to foreclosure. I'm sure they'd be happy with a job building a bridge, or a school, or a train station, or any alternative to having to sign up for the armed services and dodge IEDs until being shipped back for a prosthetic fitting. If they're lucky.

Getting your life blown apart so some bigass privateers and chickenshit politicians can fire up another fat one is sexy? Not so much.

No, if you want to talk sexy in 2008, talk this: paying your mortgage and your bills. Putting food on the table. Being able to pay for your kids school and aikido lessons: sexy.

5/06/2008 5:01 AM  
Anonymous Doug said...

"Which presidential candidate stands the best chance of changing that?"

That would be the big O. Provided getting us out of Iraq is the first priority, otherwise the Rs will nickel and dime him on this and that, and before you know it, it's four more years of Friedman Units and dead Americans for nothing.

5/07/2008 7:15 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Tax rates don't matter. No matter how much money they get or borrow...its just more bombs to drop on various brown skinned peoples and more military bases with which to police them with. Americans will have to go bankrupt before they give up their imperial delusions of ruling the world. Just my two cents.

5/07/2008 7:11 PM  
Blogger Mr. Hedley Bowes said...

Nah, I think tax rates do matter. Most people who are in a position to know would rather give money away than pay it in taxes. And others, who own family businesses or sole proprietorships, would rather expense stuff than pay it in taxes. And when the top marginal rate becomes even more significant, those people will find ever more creative ways to put their money to work than pay it in taxes. That's the promise and miracle of progressive taxation. It may be a key to economic revival and health in the United States and its about time the country's leadership had a sincere and candid discussion along these lines.

5/08/2008 5:08 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

I'm speaking in general...not specifics. I am a huge practioner of tax avoidance...not all tax avoidance is illegal mind you (so don't go calling the IRS on me LOL). To the people paying the taxes...it is a huge deal...trust me...to the people controlling the taxes and making their living off the taxes, etc. Their only concern is how to squeeze as much from the taxpayers as possible...and if that isn't enough borrow more...and if that isn't enough inflate the currency. That is what I mean by taxes don't matter. It is the powerful that collect the taxes and control the spending. And they only want to know how much they can extract before the natives get restless...and how much they can borrow and inflate before people start getting wise and blaming the politicians. Bush's huge mistake is he didn't make it out of office before the housing market collapse...if he would have done that his opinion ratings woulnd't be so far in the toilet. Most Americans couldn't give a rats bottom what our military is doing...they just don't want to pay $4 per gallon gas.

5/08/2008 12:39 PM  
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