This one’s a corker. It’s by Thomas L. Friedman, and it reads like The Onion doing a parody of a dork journalist quoting The Onion:
Sometimes the satirical newspaper The Onion is so right on, I can’t resist quoting from it. Consider this faux article from June 2005 about America’s addiction to Chinese exports …
The rest of the column warns of ecological apocalypse. Well, all right. But I have a Friedman Reflex that’s viciously developed: whatever he says, I want him to shut up.
The Onion article interviews a Chinese factory worker (a “faux” Chinese factory worker, as Friedman might put it) who can’t believe the crap his factory turns out for the American market. Friedman doesn’t get that part of the joke is that the factory worker is saying exactly what western critics of consumption have been saying for years. The Onion does that kind of thing, takes language and ideas that are perfectly commonplace in one setting and transposes them to a different setting. Then Tom Friedman comes along, filters out the odd setting, and focuses on the commonplace sentiments, which he treats as his personal discovery.
I’m not saying Friedman is wrong or right about runaway western consumption and ecological crisis. But if he is right, he is right in exactly the same way as many, many others who have gone before him. And he thinks he’s doing everyone else a favor by getting on his hind legs and making his announcement. It’s official! (Over in Japan, ecological doom predictions are such a mainstay they’ve even generated a new form of pastoral, as Bill tells us.)
Bonus: A classic piece of op-ed Slop Logic. Take two big issues, drop one top of the other, and figure you’re drawing a connection. As in:
What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”
I’m not against life in balance. But the US and Europe deregulated banking and let their financial sectors run wild. Canada, for example, didn’t. The US and Europe encountered market disaster; Canada didn’t, it just has to deal with the rest of the world sagging.
The global crisis didn’t happen because ordinary people like to buy stuff. It happened because rich financial professionals were allowed to make themselves richer by running the economy in a cackhanded way that generated profits for them.
Friedman, just do me a favor. Don’t think, okay?
(Footnote: a Friedman Reflex is similar to a Dowd Impulse, which is the urge to seal shut Maureen Dowd’s mouth as soon as she opens it, if not sooner.)