Tag Archives: Thomas Friedman

Wise words from Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman, with whom I have an ongoing love/hate relationship–I unsubscribed from the NYTimes back in 2003 largely because of his seeming lock-step approval of war and the Bush admin–has in the last year gained my deep appreciation for his clarity of thought and insight.  I’m sure he’ll be relieved to know I’m back on board.

Anyhoo, I’ve been telling everyone I can to read and consider this Sunday’s editorial, entitled Vote for ( ).  Individual NYT contributors aren’t allowed to make endorsements for public office, so he sidesteps that…but his preference in this election is transparent and heartening.

More significant to me, though, was this: he makes clear that whoever wins will inherit an economy in shambles, a world deeply divided, and a country that is basically demoralized.  No one person will be able to change the exceptionally difficult times we’re facing–and neither candidate is facing or discussing this reality in the election or debates.

We are all going to have to pay, because this meltdown comes in the context of what has been “perhaps the greatest wealth transfer since the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917,” says Michael Mandelbaum, author of “Democracy’s Good Name.” “It is not a wealth transfer from rich to poor that the Bush administration will be remembered for. It is a wealth transfer from the future to the present.”

Never has one generation spent so much of its children’s wealth in such a short period of time with so little to show for it as in the Bush years.”

He concludes, then, by suggesting we vote based on the leadership and character of the candidate, because the new president will be facing a set of challenges that will require a united country, focused on solutions. What a concept.

First, we need a president who can speak English and deconstruct and navigate complex issues so Americans can make informed choices. We have paid an enormous price for having a president who could not explain and reassure us during this financial meltdown….

Second, we need a president who can energize, inspire and hold the country together during what will be a very stressful recovery. We have to climb out of this financial crisis at a time when the baby boomers are about to retire and going to need their Social Security and eventually Medicare.

Third, we need a president who can rally the world to our side. We cannot get out of this crisis unless China starts consuming more and unless Europe keeps lowering interest rates. Everyone is interconnected, and everyone is still looking to America to lead.

Vote for the candidate you think has the smarts, temperament and inspirational capacity to unify the country and steer our ship through what could be the rockiest shoals our generation has ever known. Your kids will thank you.

Thanks, Mr. Friedman–your clarity is much appreciated.

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Days 222-224: MLwC, Thomas Friedman and Vegetarian Cuisine

I’m not a huge fan of Thomas Friedman (by any stretch), but I do think he’s thoughtful and articulate so I read his articles when I have the chance. Last week he had an article entitled Lead, Follow or Move Aside which struck a true note regarding global climate change.

He’s basically bemoaning our current standing in the world with regard to effective action around climate change, a standing he lays squarely at the feet of our dear leader, GWB. To illustrate the possibilities available to us as a nation, he points to WalMart, the current poster child for evolving thought with regard to sustainable energy and practices:

The “Wal-Mart environmental moment” starts with the C.E.O. adopting a green branding strategy as a purely defensive, public relations, marketing move. Then an accident happens — someone in the shipping department takes it seriously and comes up with a new way to package the latest product and saves $100,000. This gets the attention of the C.E.O., who turns to his P.R. adviser and says, “Well, isn’t that interesting? Get me a sustainability expert. Let’s do this some more.”

The company then hires a sustainability officer, and he starts showing how green design, manufacturing and materials can save money in other areas. Then the really smart C.E.O.’s realize they have to become their own C.E.O. — chief energy officer — and they start demanding that energy efficiency become core to everything the company does, from how its employees travel to how its products are manufactured.

Given the same opportunity to wake up and smell the change-in-the-air apparently sails right by the Bush administration about every 15 minutes, the latest example being Bush’s speech before the UN on global climate change last week in which he said, sorry, profits first, future last.

Bush scratching his head confused

Friedman decries the very thing that is so upsetting about Bush’s entire reign:

Too bad. “It was America which put environmentalism on the world’s agenda in the 1970s and ’80s,” recalled Glenn Prickett, a senior vice president for Conservation International. “But since then, somehow, the wealthiest and most powerful country on the planet has gone to the back of the line.”

Leadership is about “follow me” not “after you.” Getting our national climate regulations in order is necessary, but it will not be sufficient to move China. We have to show them what Wal-Mart is showing its competitors — that green is not just right for the world, it is better, more profitable, more healthy, more innovative, more efficient, more successful. If Wal-Mart can lead, and California can lead, why can’t America?

The only thing we’re leading in anymore is hostility and thuggish foreign policy and I would really, really like to see this country do better, wouldn’t you?

And now for something completely different…I was making dinner last night, a medley of runner beans, broccoli, spinach, butter potatoes and brussel sprouts, sauteed in sweet coconut oil, a splash of chili oil and sesame oil, with carmalized sweet onions and garlic and thinking: why can’t restaurants make veggie meals like this? Why do they always have to come up with some dull combination of zucchini and broccoli, heavy on the zucchini, and call it their vegetarian offering, as if we have no taste for really good vegetables and as if we all eat zucchini at home. What’s with the zucchini, anyway? I really resent paying $15 for a dinner that includes zucchini as its main vegetable.

Here’s what I’d like: I’d like restaurants to recognize that vegetarians are as knowledgeable and well traveled in their vegetable preferences as meat eaters. So if you’re going to offer something for vegetarians, make it as exotic, creative, thoughtful, and worthwhile as your carnivore dishes, okay? Otherwise, just bring me a house salad.

In the International District in Seattle, you’ll find the Tamarind Tree, a restaurant with an outstanding vegetarian flair, as well as delights to please the carnies among us. What are your veggie-creative choices for dining out–we could start a revolution by raising the veggie bar at least as high as that steak bar is set at Morton’s.

 

Daily Stats: (Mon, Tue, Wed)
Car: 29 miles
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 3.5
Bus: 0