Thursday, October 02, 2008

I am Tired of Friedman

I am becoming annoyed with Thomas Friedman.

Don’t get me wrong, he is bright and can write – normally things I admire and appreciate. Its just that what he writes is becoming less connected with the realities of the world.

Take his latest epic column – the book Hot, Fat and Crowded - Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America. (When I first saw the title Hot, Fat and Crowded I thought it was a biography). It accepts uncritically the anthropomorphic global warming hypothesis, acknowledges obesity in the western world and then looks at global population developments and brings it all back to environmental concerns. Over the course of 412 pages he outlines why going green would revive the American economy, increase real security and be good for the world.

He should know better. First, the reason the demographics are as they are is poverty. As soon as a region becomes wealthy, then birthrates fall and the health of the population improves significantly. As it does, they can avoid obesity by regulation and the systematic pursuit of food for health. By denying access to American fast food chains, emerging nations can have less of an obesity problem than those which have permitted their expansion.

Rather than worry about global warming, we should be seeking to enable and empower the adaptability of people through the encouragement of entrepreneurship. If there is a market for green technologies, then entrepreneurs will respond. Massice subsidies for green products and services (which is what is happening now) distort markets and have unintended consequences – the rush to biofuels (which are pollutants) or wind power (which is no real solution) demonstrate this clearly.

For a smart man, the thinking of Friedman is shallow and surprisingly uncritical. Its also very repetitive and verbose.

Time for a period of self imposed writing exile in terms of these large pieces – I, for one, have had enough.

1 comment:

AKG said...

I can't stand Friedman either. I wish that there was a book called 'Hot, Fat and Crowded'. I found a pretty good book called 'The World is Fat'...