Dean Baker Slaps Tom Friedman Silly

It’s well deserved, of course, as are most of the brickbats leveled at the man who once, in 2003, offered Charlie Rose the notion of “suck on this” as a rationale for the Iraq war (no, really, he did):

Ah, memories. This is who much of the current crop of leaders of industry (read: baby boomers) revere as a great thinker. Dean Baker gives us yet another reason (besides “suck on this” and the endless Friedman Units which Atrios coined and FAIR chronicled) why that was never true, and why treating Friedman as a serious person is, in fact, a pernicious misconception, not a harmless one:

The problem for which baby boomers share blame is that we allow people like Friedman to distract us from real concerns. For example, Friedman gives us a lecture today about living within in our means. In fact, the reason that so many people find themselves in bad financial shape today is that people like Friedman crowded out voices who saw real economic problems like the stock bubble, the housing bubble and the over-valued dollar.

The consumption of the 90s and 00s would have been entirely sustainable if the stock bubble and the housing bubble did not burst. And the country would not be borrowing from China or anyone else if the dollar fell to a level that was consistent with balanced trade. But the people who were warning of the collapse of the bubbles and who understand international trade did not have the same megaphone as Thomas Friedman.

Exactly.