July 23, 2008
Rhetoric and Reality in Friedman’s "Hot, Flat and Crowded"
By Adam Solomon Zemel
The biggest new book of the fall is Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution, and How It Can Renew America. Here he is in a nutshell:
America is always at its most powerful and most influential when it is combining innovation and inspiration, wealth-building and dignity-building, the quest for big profits and the tackling of big problems. When we do just one, we are less than the sum of our parts. When we do both, we are greater than the sum of our parts--much greater.
I applaud Friedman's grand, inspiring rhetoric, but am disturbed that he has fallen back on the failed policy agenda of green groups.
His assertions that a "Green Revolution" could renew America, provide us with the resolve and the faith to step up and lead the globe along a new path for the 21st century, and restore our status as the "last, best hope on Earth," are all true and inspiring.
But grand rhetoric aside, the policy agenda Friedman proposes in Hot, Flat and Crowded will not take us there. Friedman has embraced a narrative of restoring national greatness and blazing new paths -- but he holds fast to the orthodoxy of pricing carbon, a political non-starter in an environment where voters want lower, not higher, gasoline and electricity prices.
Friedman challenges our nation to be bold and adopt a great new national project and lead the way to a new era. I challenge Friedman to be as realistic in his political analysis and as bold in his policy agenda.