Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shout Out to Tom Friedman

This morning's NY Times OpEd, always a pleasure and one of the first things I look for each morning, features a piece by Thomas L. Friedman called, "Palin's Kind of Patriotism." In it, he blasts Sarah Palin for considering that paying taxes is not patriotic. During the VP debate, Palin said to Biden, "“You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.” About this exchange, Friedman wrote:

"What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.
I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first

In the comments posted to his essay, Friedman took a hit on his comparison of Palin to the King of Saudia Arabia from a Wasilla native who described Palin's efforts in promoting an "all of the above" approach to energy in Alaska. But his essential argument remains intact: the relentless promotion of the individual over the country as a whole is not patriotic. He writes:

"My problem with Palin is that she is also serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. That’s not patriotic. Patriotic is offering a plan to build our economy — not by tax cuts or punching more holes in the ground, but by empowering more Americans to work in productive and innovative jobs. If Palin has that kind of a plan, I haven’t heard it. "

Tom Friedman's book "The World is Flat" was required reading for administrators and made available to teachers and parent leaders in the school district where I live. The premises of the book were incorporated into the district's mission statement and strategic plan. The sequel, "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" is spot on in explaining how we got into this economic and environmental mess. I wish Sarah Palin would read the book - she says she DOES read. The first chapter is so well-written, clear, and easy to understand that I think even she would get it. Palin's oft-repeated position that the gut-instincts of Joe Six Pack are superior to positions based on logic, research, and THOUGHT outdoes even George W. Bush in the ignorant department.

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