October 21, 2009

Tom Friedman: America's schools failing to educate enough rainmakers

I've never been to India, but I've somehow gotten the impression that Untouchables are unfortunate. Apparently, I was misinformed because Thomas Friedman, who has been to India lots of times, entitles his NYT column "The New Untouchables" and his New Untouchables are sitting pretty.

I've mentioned before that the NYT op-ed page is one of the fringes of the Steveosphere. But, really, I've got it so much easier than those poor bastards. All I have to do each day is use Occam's Razor to find the simplest explanation for whatever subject comes up. (A long time ago an old venture capitalist who had given dozens of depositions under oath told me: "Always tell the truth; it's easier to remember.") But to be an NYT columnist, you have to wield Occam's Butterknife like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

For example, I could have happily written half of Friedman's new column, but I couldn't have pounded out the other half with a straight face:

Last summer I attended a talk by Michelle Rhee, the dynamic chancellor of public schools in Washington. Just before the session began, a man came up, introduced himself as Todd Martin and whispered to me that what Rhee was about to speak about — our struggling public schools — was actually a critical, but unspoken, reason for the Great Recession.

There’s something to that. While the subprime mortgage mess involved a huge ethical breakdown on Wall Street, it coincided with an education breakdown on Main Street — precisely when technology and open borders were enabling so many more people to compete with Americans for middle-class jobs.

And middle-class houses, let's not forget, but then most people who read Friedman have never been told that in the first place, so how can they forget what they've never learned?

In our subprime era, we thought we could have the American dream — a house and yard — with nothing down. This version of the American dream was delivered not by improving education, productivity and savings, but by Wall Street alchemy and borrowed money from Asia.

A year ago, it all exploded. Now that we are picking up the pieces, we need to understand that it is not only our financial system that needs a reboot and an upgrade, but also our public school system. Otherwise, the jobless recovery won’t be just a passing phase, but our future.

Importing tens of millions of people from the bottom of the Latin American pyramid of productivity didn't exactly help, either.

Nor did letting much of our manufacturing go overseas with the idea that we'd all get rich off selling each other ever more complicated financial instruments.

“Our education failure is the largest contributing factor to the decline of the American worker’s global competitiveness, particularly at the middle and bottom ranges,” argued Martin, a former global executive with PepsiCo and Kraft Europe and now an international investor. “This loss of competitiveness has weakened the American worker’s production of wealth, precisely when technology brought global competition much closer to home. So over a decade, American workers have maintained their standard of living by borrowing and overconsuming vis-à-vis their real income. When the Great Recession wiped out all the credit and asset bubbles that made that overconsumption possible, it left too many American workers not only deeper in debt than ever, but out of a job and lacking the skills to compete globally.”

This problem will be reversed only when the decline in worker competitiveness reverses — when we create enough new jobs and educated workers that are worth, say, $40-an-hour compared with the global alternatives. If we don’t, there’s no telling how “jobless” this recovery will be.

A Washington lawyer friend recently told me about layoffs at his firm. I asked him who was getting axed. He said it was interesting: lawyers who were used to just showing up and having work handed to them were the first to go because with the bursting of the credit bubble, that flow of work just isn’t there. But those who have the ability to imagine new services, new opportunities and new ways to recruit work were being retained. They are the new untouchables.

Oh, now I get it! Being an "untouchable" is now a good thing. Just like "the world is flat" is a smart thing to say.

Friedman's New Untouchables are basically the Old Rainmakers -- lawyers who could bring in big accounts.

That's just swell ... So what Friedman is telling us is that even for those people who pass the Bar Exam, our K-19 education system is failing them because, while it is turning them into lawyers, it isn't turning them into rainmaker lawyers.

That is the key to understanding our full education challenge today. Those who are waiting for this recession to end so someone can again hand them work could have a long wait. Those with the imagination to make themselves untouchables — to invent smarter ways to do old jobs, energy-saving ways to provide new services, new ways to attract old customers or new ways to combine existing technologies — will thrive. Therefore, we not only need a higher percentage of our kids graduating from high school and college — more education — but we need more of them with the right education.

As the Harvard University labor expert Lawrence Katz explains it: “If you think about the labor market today, the top half of the college market, those with the high-end analytical and problem-solving skills who can compete on the world market or game the financial system or deal with new government regulations, have done great. But the bottom half of the top, those engineers and programmers working on more routine tasks and not actively engaged in developing new ideas or recombining existing technologies or thinking about what new customers want, have done poorly. They’ve been much more exposed to global competitors that make them easily substitutable.”

Those at the high end of the bottom half — high school grads in construction or manufacturing — have been clobbered by global competition and immigration, added Katz. “But those who have some interpersonal skills — the salesperson who can deal with customers face to face or the home contractor who can help you redesign your kitchen without going to an architect — have done well.”

Just being an average accountant, lawyer, contractor or assembly-line worker is not the ticket it used to be. As Daniel Pink, the author of “A Whole New Mind,” puts it: In a world in which more and more average work can be done by a computer, robot or talented foreigner faster, cheaper “and just as well,” vanilla doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s all about what chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherry you can put on top. So our schools have a doubly hard task now — not just improving reading, writing and arithmetic but entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.

Bottom line: We’re not going back to the good old days without fixing our schools as well as our banks.

Okay, so our schools have to not only teach the times tables, they have to teach salesmanship and entrepreneurship. Hmmhmm, my impression from watching The Wire was that our public schools were already turning out more than enough crack salesmen but not enough kids who were good at arithmetic.

You know, this is almost enough to make you wonder if globalization isn't all that Tom Friedman has cracked it up to be.

I kind of have the impression that quite a few Americans, like, maybe, two or three hundred million of them, don't possess either the IQs or the personalities to be rainmakers. Are they permanently obsolete in the world that Friedman has been such an energetic cheerleader for?

Fortunately, all we have to do is Fix Education.

And, fortunately, as David Brooks has been informing us recently, IQ is so yesterday and personality hardly even exists.

You know what else our schools have been failing to do? They've been doing a terrible job of teaching our children another crucial skill for survival in Tom Friedman's globalized economy: how to marry a billionaire's daughter.

Tom did it, so how hard could it be?

Let's get Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan cracking on this right away. As a start, all Washington D.C. public schoolchildren should make annual field trips to the 7.5 acre Friedman-Bucksbaum compound in Bethesda for socializing with Tom's daughters.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

112 comments:

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

Reading Friedman's blather reminded me that he's one of the Big Fish.

(or "fishes" if you prefer)

Chief Seattle said...

I looked at the first few of the 414 comments on this story. This one didn't even fool NYTimes readers. By far and away, the most common comment was what good is education if all jobs, good and bad, are being shipped overseas.

Richard Hoste said...

Just being an average accountant, lawyer, contractor or assembly-line worker is not the ticket it used to be.

Why is he celebrating this? Is he some sort of sadist that wants to see people suffer?

With technological advancement, isn't life supposed to get easier and better? Isn't the fact that things are getting more difficult a problem?

Anonymous said...

Friedman and Obama both have the "Aw Shucks" communication skill that is music to the ears of guilty white liberals down perfectly. I'm surprised Friedman didn't bring up that bogus study from Duke U. that every 1 Immigrant creates 5 jobs in America. Friedman is forever advocating increasing H-1B's or stapling a green card to every PHD diploma because it's good for America. Riiiiight!!! BTW, I simply don't buy it that America's schools are falling apart. What I do know is that 1 bad apple spoils the lot and we are importing more and more bad apples into the U.S. Whites have far more knowledge and ability than non-Asian non-whites and we have far more creativity than Asians. I know this not because I've read a book or can cite a study but because I have a pulse and 2 eyes. It's that obvious. To the extent that schools are bad in the U.S. it is due to too many kids from non-Western cultures in them and too many kids here who are being trained by the media to despise Western values. The interesting thing is that the end result of the 1965 Immigration Act, illegal immigrant amnesties, the H-1B, etc. is that assuming we have the same Safety Net system say 60 or 70 years from now then those white kids who are around 5 or 10 years old now will be dependent on a U.S. workforce that will 70% to 80% non-white for their government retirement benefits. This workforce will be trained that these 70 to 80 year olds grew up in the lap of luxury and are racists and "stole" everything from non-whites. In a nutshell, those 5 and 10 year old white kids you see today will be treated like the whites in Zimbabwe are now when they get to retirment age. That's the trajectory America is on. It's simple math.

mark said...

Young lawyers joining Law Firms quickly learn (at-least where I have practiced England/Australasia) that a very large number of partners have large personality defects of one sort or another.

Most partners get to where they are by the smarts to do the work and hard slog not through their rainmaking ability.

Rainmakers are very much in the minority at Law Firms (hence their special name). The sort of personality you need to be able to stare at trust documents or regulations 70 hours a week does not often co-incide with an outgoing people/sales person.

Anonymous said...

(Regarding Friedman skeptics: if Matt Taibbi didn't exist, would people need to invent him?)

The sad truth is this: modern economies are too good at producing stuff and providing services efficiently. We have surplus everything, and salesmen have become relatively valuable as they are required to sell excess legal capacity, credit, toys, cars, you name it. There is an oversupply of smart and educated people in the world. Say what you want about Communist countries, but the Soviets, Chinese, Eastern Europeans and Indians did a reasonable job teaching math, literature and science (in some ways it's better, as my Polish friend noted to me, business -- accounting, finance, marketing -- was not taught in Communist schools) to their reasonably intelligent people. Globalization makes so called "labor arbitrage" -- short the American worker, long the Chinese one -- a profitable play.

TO coin a Friedmanism (nooo!), we could "level the playing field" a bit and ask these big companies and managerial elites to suck it up and not exploit these wage discrepancies so viciously for the greater good, but I guess empathy for your middle class countrymen becomes nil as the country gets so big and diverse.

John Seiler said...

Thanks for reading the NYT so I don't have to.

mark said...

The reason I've always liked 'the great gatsby' so much is that the ending is so good.

I remember as a teenager being very satisfied at the car crash at the end. After reading it there is a sense that it was all resolved in the right way.

It is comforting that bad things happen to the bad people (largely anyways).

I've always thought of it as a very very protestant novel.

I can see why it would appeal to troops overseas.

Anonymous said...

Friedman is the a$#hole who told Charlie Rose that the reason for the Iraq war was to show the Arabs that Americans could be used to teach the Arabs a lesson. Friedman’s famous line on when Iraq would improve, i.e., another six months was his answer for two or three years, is about what he is saying on the economy. In other words, Friedman is telling Americans “Screw you!”

Mark said...

Yep, everytime I see a Friedman citation I think of Matt Taibbi's hilarious takedown of him a few years back ("How the f$%^ do you open a window in a fallen wall?").

But only to mention data, there are really only two pieces of data you need to know to see where we're headed:

1) From 1973-85, the share of domestic profits going to the financial services industry was never higher than 16%. By this decade it had reached 41%.

...that describes how we got here.

2) From 1996 to 2004 - 8 years! - the percentage of California 19-year-olds in college fell from 43% to 30%.

...describes where we're headed.

#2 sums up our problems in a nutshell. And the Left? They answer that we just need to "get rid of discrimination in education," as if a gloriously progressive state like California still has any. Just snap our fingers and the disparity will just disappear!

Reactionary said...

What a fatuous ass is Friedman.

He's talking about my bailiwick, so I will throw in my two cents.

There are a lot of lawyers, period. And on the right-side tail are lawyers who are the whole package: superb legal technicians who are also gregarious and effective marketers.

The fact that the technician-worker bees are being cut does not reflect the superior position of the rainmakers so much as it reflects the fact that the supply of lawyers exceeds the demand for legal services. Clients will no longer pay for rainmakers to leverage work off associates. The rainmakers are being asked to do what they haven't done previously: practice law. And the people holding the knife to these guys' necks are the same technician-nerd-associates who fled private practice for a sane life as general counsel 10+ years ago. Increasingly, they are also women.

Of course, being people of Tom's ilk, his Manhattan law firm buddies don't phrase it this way. Rather, they say things like "innovative new methods for delivery of legal services." (Translation: instead of throwing the project at some absurdly overpaid youngster who's been a member of the Bar for six hours, I just do it myself).

Lawyers will never again enjoy the kinds of margins they did in the 80's and 90's, so Tom is probably hearing a lot from his social circle about having to sell the beach house or the in-town condo, sending the kids to state U., cancelling the sabbatical in Europe, and other horror stories.

Indiana said...

He said it was interesting: lawyers who were used to just showing up and having work handed to them were the first to go because with the bursting of the credit bubble, that flow of work just isn’t there. But those who have the ability to imagine new services, new opportunities and new ways to recruit work were being retained. They are the new untouchables.

You see, parasitic rent-seeking, dealmaking, transactions, etc., are actually good things. They're exactly what we need more of in our economy and society!

“If you think about the labor market today, the top half of the college market, those with the high-end analytical and problem-solving skills who can compete on the world market or game the financial system or deal with new government regulations, have done great. But the bottom half of the top, those engineers and programmers working on more routine tasks and not actively engaged in developing new ideas or recombining existing technologies or thinking about what new customers want, have done poorly. They’ve been much more exposed to global competitors that make them easily substitutable.”

Yep. Those slick wheeler dealers in the dubious management "consulting" industry, and in the parasitic and bloated extractive financial industry completely deserve everything, whereas all those productive engineers and programmers whom they've hollowed out and gutted are unambitious, uninventive losers that have been rightly replaced by foreign slaves.

Don't you just love our highly verbally intelligent and skilled elites? With their Byzantine logic they can articulate complex, dubious theories that explain everything, including why us non-overclass cattle are such lazy, unambitious losers.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused, Mr. Friedman.

What's "interesting" about the fact that lawyers who bring in new business keep their jobs, while those who do the work get axed (because there's not enough work to do)? Isn't that exactly what you'd expect?

Also, if the prerequisite for success in the new globalverse is being an entrepreneurial, seal-the-deal handshake artist, how come all our jobs are going to India? What kind of rainmaking can they do from all the way in Bombay?

Harry Baldwin said...

People like Tom Friedman don't live in the same world as the rest of us. For 30 years now, as I've seen gas stations go self-service, banks close teller windows in favor of ATMs, and now supermarkets replace check-out clerks with self-service aisles, I've wondered: what happens to the people who rely on jobs like this? What does Friedman think, that they just have to get more "education" so they can be hotshot NY Times columnists like him?

I had the same reaction to Rush Limbaugh 20 years ago as he went national and was constantly rah-rahing capitalism, which had proven its perfect logic because it had set him at the top of the heap. Everybody could do it with a little hard work! Rush skated around the fact that the only way a talk show guy could make it as big as he did is by replacing the hundreds of talk show guys who used to work their local markets. They're all gone and Rush won. Good for him, but don't pretend that no one's paying a price.

I'm not anti-capitalist--far from it--but the way things are going we're in for hard times.

Which brings up something I've been pondering--why are zombie movies so popular? I suspect that for some of us, it allows us to fantasize what would happen to people like Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, David Gergen, Robert Reich, Skippy Gates--the whole slew of useless intelligensia fatcats--should the Zombie Apocalypse arrive. They'd be eaten, and upwardly mobile rednecks like me would get through just fine.

Anonymous said...

It always seems like the Times is written for an audience with a minimum income of $500,000, but Friedman thinks you're a social parasite if your income is anything under 7 figures.

Anonymous said...

If I could present Friedman's article in a different light...

He is describing something like a global force of nature -- i.e. the power of creative nerds -- and we can try to fight it like building higher and higher levees around New Orleans until the ocean is overwhelming.

Our country is actually quite competitive with a supply of such Rainmakers greater than in most countries in the world. Yes, China with its humongous population of smart Chinese people may end up outcompeting us. But we'll still be doing ok as long as we let the entrepreneurs do their thing without too much "haters" and government regulation. The dumb alternative is to close up and be the General Motors national economy and sneer at other places doing much better than us. Heck, if it gets too bad, America itself may see a brain drain as the world at large becomes the oyster of the smart class.

A key that is not understood by the many who may not have the entrepreneurial ability is that the entrepreneurs create wealth and improve life for everyone.

Anonymous said...

This is a joke.


Big law firms laid off tons of first and second year associates. It is ethically disgusting to pretend like it was the fault of first year lawyers that partners overhired and decided to protect their profits-per-partner number at the expense of associate careers. There's nowhere for these young lawyers to go.

Yeah, it's their fault for not being rainmakers. What a joke. Newly minted lawyers cannot bring in business to firms like Latham and Watkins that serve massive corporations and banks.


The old model was not just about rainmaking. If you went to Harvard law school and did well, you got a job at a good firm. If you worked hard at a good firm, you had a good chance of becoming partner.


Today, law schools are more competitive than ever and they guarantee nothing. Talent is being flushed down the drain. It'd be nice if everyone could start a company in Tom Friedman's garage that became the next google, but life doesn't work like that. At least there used to be a time when hard-work guaranteed you some stability and dignity in this country. That is no longer the case in America. Not for the working class and not for the highly educated middle class.

Anonymous said...

The three top US hedge fund managers made $2.5 billion, $2 billion, and $1.5 billion last year respectively. This was during the *worst* year for the economy since the Great Depression.

http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2009/03/25/alpha-magazine-reveals-hedge-fund-managers-earnings/

Every year, the US graduates about 70,000 or so engineers with bachelor of science (B.S.) degrees. If we are a bit generous and assume that they get paid $60,000 each, then the total salary for an entire year's supply of newly minted engineers is about $4.2 billion.

A society that values two hedge managers more than it values an entire graduating class of engineers *deserves* to have levee failures and collapsing bridges and bankrupt automobile companies.

In China, all but one of the nine members of the ruling Standing Committee of the Politburo have engineering degrees.

We elect lawyers as our leaders and then wonder why nothing useful ever gets done and everything gets worse and worse.

- Nemo

Empas said...

OT, but here's a post by an "angry Asian male"/somewhat radicalized/activist type about Indians and politics. He mentions some things that've been discussed here before:

"Indian Americans flexing political muscle—and raising serious dough from fellow desis"

"This is a big deal. Like other Asian Americans, Indian American children of immigrants have been pressured to get educated and find employment in safe and secure professions —law, engineering, medicine. But coming from an ancestral culture where politics is like oxygen, the step from, say, pediatrician to running for Congress is somewhat less wrenching than for many other Asian ethnicities."

A "deep culture" no doubt. Certainly "deeper" than the majority of natives, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Steve, your advice has merit and appears in fact to work rather well for those Americans with the American Americaness to do it.

http://www.theonion.com/content/video/mccain_s_economic_plan_for_nation

Mnuez

Anonymous said...

Oh, btw - you mentioned Friedman's decision to marry well, into the billionaire Bucksbaum family, founders and major shareholders of mall operator General Growth.

Well, they ain't billionaires anymore. General Growth collapsed last year with $27.3 billion in debt. Gee, you'd think they might've wanted to consult the brilliant futurist thinker Tom Friedman, especially since he's an in law.

Fred said...

Wasn't Herbert Hoover an engineer?

Anonymous said...

Henry Ford talked about the struggle between industry and finance.

We know who won this struggle and continues to win.

Andrea said...

Friedman is admitting the 'creative class' has been a bubble too. We'd been told the 'creative class' was building the new economy through high tech, finance, and the arts, but it turned out that most members of the 'creative class' were more expendable than creative. 'Creativity' has been subprimed like mortgages in the past 15 yrs. Lots of 'creative' yuppies are now finding out they were just drones working for the queen bee. Many lower rungers have been let go in Wall Street, but Big Guys still rake it in. But, are they rainmakers or snake oil salesmen?

Another way to approach Friedman's article is by taking issue with his Jewishness. Let's face it, the most creative people in the world are Ashkenazi Jews. If we read between the lines, Friedman is admitting--and deeply worried about--the fact that Jews have been hurt less by the recession. As higher proportion of Jews work in the top tiers of law, medicine, hightech, computers, academia, etc--and also have tight-knit iin-group connections--, they are more likely to keep their wealth and jobs than goyim not smart enough to be 'rain-makers' or 'bagel-bakers'. Friedman cannot openly admit this, but he must be worrying, 'what if gentiles perceive that Jews have done much better than non-Jews in the past 20 yrs and will do even better in the next 20 yrs?' Ashkenazi Jews--in US, Europe, and Israel--have higher IQs and are well-organized. Many Jews are at the cutting edge of the businesses, tech, ideas, etc. Just as a sports team is willing to pay any amount to keep its star players--while trading or dropping the lesser athletes--, many creative Jews will keep their exalted positions while non-Jews face hard times.

So, Friedman and Brooks are worried about how Jews will be seen by others during hard times. Since Friedman and Brooks don't have the guts to say, 'we Jews are smarter, that's that, so just live with it!!'--such attitude may piss off goyim--, their schtick is to fool us that WE CAN DO IT TOO. This feel-good message is supposed to fill us with hope and calm our resentment. If we can be persuaded to convince ourselves that we too can be Sergei Brin or Larry Ellison, we might feel less anxious, less anguished, less aggressive. After all, what made white males feel anti-black when Jack Johnson whupped a whole bunch of white guys? The realization that black dominance in boxing--central to racial pride--would be PERMANENT. And, this is why many blacks, though privately knowing they are faster and stronger, have been loathe to admit this fact in public. Blacks have been afraid of white resentment. Blacks would rather have whites foolishly think that they too can be Carl Lewises and Muhammad Ali's IF THEY JUST TRAINED HARD ENOUGH. Otherwise, white resentment may lead to white rage and 'racist' violence.
Jews probably feel the same way. Jews are proud of their intelligence and achievement but also deeply worried about how such are perceived by non-Jews. So, Jews like Friedman and Brooks try to soothe our suspicions and resentment by universalizing Jewish creativity and intelligence. In other words, we need not envy and resent the successful Jews--who've done better in the economic downturn--since with the aid of proper education, any of us can be Einstein or Michael Bloomberg. No wonder then that Jews hype and cling to Obama as the The Savior. For starters, embracing Obama as their American hero, whites will have less racial pride and power--meaning less reason for Jews to fear 'New Nazism'. Also, we are supposed ponder Obama's 'staggering intellect'(in the words of the New Republic), and realize... 'if that black guy could reach the stars through proper education, ANY OF US can do it'. Of course, Obama had A LOT of help along with the way, with Jews paying for most of it.

OK, since Obama's real success owed much to Jewish money and aid, how about rich Jews do for each of us what they did for Obama? Praise us for our 'staggering intellect' and give each of us $100s millions. I can go with that. I feel my resentment ebbing away already. Hope! Change!

Anonymous said...

Hey, any time a New York Times columnist acknowledges that "open-borders" immigration is "clobbering" the middle class, well, that's good enough for me. I'm quite happy to give the rest of the column, however asinine, a pass.

Anonymous said...

How is Tommy's sugar momma's General Growth Properties Inc. doing?

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

But we'll still be doing ok as long as we let the entrepreneurs do their thing without too much "haters" and government regulation."

Or alternatively, we could have a government, business, and social elite who are loyal to their country and to their countrymen, as in Japan for example.

Instead, the social contract is breaking down here.

That works both ways.

"Anonymous said...

The three top US hedge fund managers made $2.5 billion, $2 billion, and $1.5 billion last year respectively. This was during the *worst* year for the economy since the Great Depression.

http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2009/03/25/alpha-magazine-reveals-hedge-fund-managers-earnings/

Every year, the US graduates about 70,000 or so engineers with bachelor of science (B.S.) degrees. If we are a bit generous and assume that they get paid $60,000 each, then the total salary for an entire year's supply of newly minted engineers is about $4.2 billion."

Well said, and a good point.

Anonymous said...

To Mark who said, "I remember as a teenager being very satisfied at the car crash at the end. After reading it there is a sense that it was all resolved in the right way."

Resolved the "right way"???? Are you as amoral as the Buchanans. I hope not. You need to go back and re-read that chapter. In fact, re-read the entire novel. Scott Fitzgerald's whole point was that the Myrtle and George Wilsons of the world were the collateral damage of people like the Buchanans, relegated to living next to the Valley of Ashes, the garbage dump into which the rich poured their refuse.

The only escape route Mrytle could see was the philandering Tom Buchanan, a member of the established rich class, a man who would use her and discard her when he grew bored with her or she became inconvenient. Her husband George had had the life beaten out of him so that he couldn't even see a way out of his pathetic existence ("We're going West")until it was too late. Gatsby, of course, was every bit as pathetic as the Wilsons, his new, dirty money not able to gain him respect from those of the elite class nor Daisy's love and commitment.

That car crash? Daisy drives the death car, running over Myrtle and just driving on. Tom and she lead the crazed Wilson, in his grief-sticken state, to believe it was Gatsby who killed his wife, knowing he would find Gatsby and kill him. In essence, the Buchanans are the murderers.

Fitzgerald knew that we'd see the futility of the struggles of the Wilsons and of Gatsby, but he also knew we'd feel empathy for their humanity, something the Buchanans lacked. We Americans can identify with dreamers and Mrytle and Gatsby were romantic dreamers through it all, devoted to something, at least.

Mr. Anon said...

"Just being an average accountant, lawyer, contractor or assembly-line worker is not the ticket it used to be."

So, according to The Mustache, we just need schools to educate everyone to be above average, and it'll be Morning in America again.

Friedman is an Ass-Hat.

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

"Young lawyers joining Law Firms quickly learn (at-least where I have practiced in England/Australasia) that a very large number of partners have large personality defects of one sort or another."

Well speaking as a young lawyer the same holds true for the United States. It is one of the reasons I am starting to loath the industry...among many.

Anonymous said...

Wow.

7.5 acres in Bethesda?! Bethesda is pretty congested so he's really fortunate to have all that space there.

Judging from the kinds of things he propagates, and the way he lives, you just might say that he truly is someone that shall dwell alone.

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

Nemo,

Speaking as a lawyer, you are so right.

Lost Pilgrim said...

"I don't think this word means what you think it means," I feel like Inigo Montoya reading this. 'Untouchable' interesting choice of words. I would have never have thought Untouchable would be a good thing. Unless you're Eliot Ness.

Anonymous said...

Andrea...right on the button as usual

Jun said...

"But the bottom half of the top, those engineers and programmers working on more routine tasks and not actively engaged in developing new ideas or recombining existing technologies or thinking about what new customers want, have done poorly."

Katz's got a lot of nerve.

Last time I checked, that "bottom half of the top" (all of them white American males) invented pretty much ALL of the modern technology that enables the top half of the top to reap in all of the riches that they do!

Without all the technology that "those engineers and programmers" developed out of thin air, the top half of the top wouldn't be able to "compete on the world market or game the financial system."

They wouldn't even be able to drive to work in a fancy car or get to their penthouse suites without walking up 80 flights of stairs. No, wait ... there wouldn't even be any penthouse suites 'cause there wouldn't be skyscrapers without some of those engineers "working on more routine tasks".

Sheesh.

Matt G. said...

So what are Tom Friedman's rainmaking skills? He just seems like a garden variety NY Times columnist to me. I'm sure there is a talented columnist in India that could replace Friedman for a fraction of his current salary.
Someday in the not too distant future American CEO's will be outsourced. The $20 million dollar American CEO can easily be replaced by a super-smart Indian who graduated from an IIT and speaks perfect english. The replacement will do a better job and for a fraction of the cost. I can't wait.

Reg Cæsar said...

Friedman's New Untouchables are basically the Old Rainmakers...

Yes, but rainmaking was the province of the Feather Indians, not the Dot Indians.

Anonymous said...

As an aside, I'm reading this IN Bethesda and posted my previous comment right after having exited the metro with a drunk kid telling me how everyone should just chill out and live life with what you got - just like he does, and he's got nothing. Heck, his dad's trust fund doesn't even bring in $500,000 a year.

The other thing he was telling me was how much he hates racists. Though he informed me that he's "as liberal as possible on every position out there" he conceeded to preferring conservative views on policies relating to finances.

Mnuez

Anonymous said...

The rhetoric about the new information society in which americans would play with ideas and invent cool stuff while grunt work would be performed by robots (or 3rd worlders) is ca 40 years old.

When I first heard this arrant nonsense, I was ca. 12, and I denounced it is piffle with the question:

what are the OTHER 99% of the people going to do for a living??

whereupon I was informed that I was cynical and elitist and just darned old mean.

And here we are.....

Black Sea said...

"Those at the high end of the bottom half — high school grads in construction or manufacturing — have been clobbered by global competition and immigration, added Katz."

Yeh, emphasis on the latter point. Construction jobs are essentially non-exportable. You can, however, drive down the cost of labor by flooding the labor pool, and then demonize anyone who dares to object with the charge of racism.


"Our education failure is the largest contributing factor to the decline of the American worker’s global competitiveness, particularly at the middle and bottom ranges,” argued Martin, a former global executive with PepsiCo and Kraft Europe and now an international investor."

I'm no great fan of American public education, but it's general level of terribleness is widely exaggerated. Among other industriallzed nations, 56% score equivalent to or below the US in math, 88% equivalent to or below the US in reading, and 75% equivalent to or below the US in science. Given US demographics, there may not be much room for improvement. Source:

http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1004&context=gse_pubs

I would mention with regard to teaching, that some cognitive achievements simply aren't particularly teachable. I used to know a computer engineer who worked for Honeywell. His performance evaluations were generally good, but he always scored lowest in creativity. He once asked his supervisor how he could raise this score, and after a few half-hearted responses, the guy said, "Actually, there's nothing you can do. There's no way to make youself more creative." I think this is a reality that Friedman and his ilk can't really be bothered to consider.

"All I have to do each day is use Occam's Razor to find the simplest explanation for whatever subject comes up. . . . But to be an NYT columnist, you have to wield Occam's Butterknife like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice."

That's why they make the big bucks, Steve.


"I asked him who was getting axed . . ."

Speaking of which, I understand the NY Times has recently been engaged in its own round of lay offs. Why they didn't start with this "no talent ass clown" (Office Space) is beyond me. Sometimes you read Friedman, and he's so unspeakably bad, you think, "How can this guy be Jewish?"

Geometer said...

Last time I checked, that "bottom half of the top" (all of them white American males) invented pretty much ALL of the modern technology that enables the top half of the top to reap in all of the riches that they do!

Right. The parasitic, extractive elite overclass engages in centralizing wealth and trading, shuffling, manipulating claims to income generating properties and assets (i.e. all those things white American males invented & developed). They're quite naturally endowed with the high verbal intelligence and skill that allows them to excel in such activities.

It's quite different though from the inventiveness and pioneering creativity that produces actual wealth.

Anonymous said...

Nemo:

On the other hand, since we aren't ruled by engineers we aren't saddled with the insanely ludicrous one child policy, which any lawyer could have predicted the results of (sex imbalance, psychological disturbances due to absence of siblings and generation-wide survivor guilt).

It seems like there could be a happy medium.

Chris said...

Let's face it, the most creative people in the world are Ashkenazi Jews.

I disagree. Jews may be many things - but the most creative? Where did this come from?

Tom Regan said...

If students from countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong consistently outperform Americans in academic performance, yet America spends manyfold times more public money on its schools, can we safely say that the declining level of performance of American students is not related to education spending?

And if we can say that, what kind of a credulous, ideologically blinkered buffoon would advocate yet more education spending? Someone who writes for the NYT apparently.

Because to admit the obvious would swiftly curtail his employment.

Anonymous said...

It might have escaped Mr. Friedman's attention but a lawyer, salesman, kitchen-designer etc, no matter how good their 'gift-of-the gab' or sales spiel is, in the greater scheme of things actually contributes *zero* wealth to his society.
'Wealth' is closely allied to the phenomenom of 'production' ie real physical widgets, food one can actually eat, coal one can actually burn.The most silver-tongued lawyer on earth might talk the best game you've ever heard, but, by Jingo, he never actually sullies his manicured hands actually *producing* anything, therefore ho contributes diddly squat.
Mr. Friedman's vision reminds me of the evolution of rapacity in carnivorous predators fighting rival species for a diminidhing spply of prey.

Anonymous said...

Andrea is right of course, that Jewish success worries Jews even more than non-Jews. Look at all the high profile successful Jews that most Jews have to downplay:

Bernie Madoff, successful businessman, specialty Ponzi schemes;
Paul Wolfowitz, successful strategic thinker, specialty Mideast quagmires;
Alan Greenspan, successful Fed Chair/Macro economist, specialty currency destruction;
Eliot Spitzer, successful politician, specialty high cost prostitutes;
David Axelrod, successful campaign manager, specialty fooling all the people;
Barney Frank, successful politician, specialty banking and housing crisis;
Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., successful trust fund kid, specialty destroying family business.

Argent Paladin said...

Steve,
Re: Untouchables

Think "Elliot Ness" not India. (But don't think too hard, since Ness and the others couldn't be bought, but I assume they could be fired.)

Peter A said...

many blacks, though privately knowing they are faster and stronger, have been loathe to admit this fact in public

In what country? Not in the US - Blacks love talking about they're faster and stronger (and better endowed) than Whites.

l said...

"...the top half of the college market, those with the high-end analytical and problem-solving skills who can compete on the world market or game the financial system or deal with new government regulations, have done great."
Friedman's right. Our schools must churn out more Goldman-Sachs executives. Who needs engineers and mechanics?

Henry Canaday said...

Three anecdotal comments on the knowledge of America’s young:

At a recent business conference an internet guru said that today’s teenagers are the smartest ever because they interact over the internet with others and organize groups, unlike passively watching TV like the early baby-boomers.

Ben Stein, at the same conference, who, as you know, can be devastatingly funny on the historical ignorance of Valley Girls and Valley Boys: The only wars they remember are the Civil War and the Vietnam War. The only presidents they have heard of are Lincoln and Reagan. They do not remember World War II or Franklin Roosevelt or any other presidents.

John Lukacs on his Harvard undergraduate students: They all very bright, with 1400s or 1500s on SATs, and they know a lot about movies, but nothing about history.

These three comments are probably all true.

l said...

Trillin contra Friedman:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/opinion/14trillin.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=wall%20street%20smarts&st=cse

(The 'rainmakers' brought about the collapse.)

anony-mouse said...

1/ I realize its a tragedy that America won't have as many employed lawyers in the future.

Bug meet feature.

2/ For people who believe in HBD I'm amazed that there's so much concern that there won't be as many positions for employee-types in the future. Aren't Americans supposed to be the world's greatest inventors? who employed Edison?

3/ As to the creativity of Ashkenazi Jews, google 'google'.

Google Google Google Google.

Mr. Anon said...

"Andrea said...

Let's face it, the most creative people in the world are Ashkenazi Jews."

Right. Which is why Israel is practically a new Athens.

There are indeed plenty of creative jews, but they don't have some kind of monopoly on it. Clever is not the same thing as creative. Movie producers, investment bankers, and newspaper columnists are not creative.

Mr. Anon said...

Come to think of it, the term "Rainmaker" as applied to people of the financial elite class is pretty apt. As indian shaman would dance around and believe that this brought the rain, the new rainmakers buy, sell, deal, and trade, and believe that this generates wealth.

Brown Ram said...

Steve,
I think you're building a straw man here. Yes, Tom Friedman sucks. Yes, you could do better. But I think that you're missing the point of Friedman's article.

The nut of Friedman's argument is that the old-new way of thinking--that being a computer programmer or lawyer or some other white collar worker is good enough to catapult a person into and maintain a person in the upper middle class, just isn't good enough any more. Friedman is just highlighting the point that even many of those tasks can be outsourced and can be quickly outmoded.

Put another way, more generally, I ask you--do you think that Apple makes its money from manufacturing or from design? Friedman would likely take the position that design and the other creative elements that make Apple great can never be outsourced. Therefore, these are the types of jobs and professions that our education should be preparing our children for.

Of course Friedman misses the boat on something that you have trumpeted--that making everyone get lots of book learning doesn't help the average joe. Trade jobs like plumbing and carpentry are honorable professions that get short thrift, even though they allow their workers to live a decent life. Many education systems ignore this in favor of sending kids to colleges.

With regards to the post of your commenter, Reactionary, I can one-up him. I am a lawyer and I have worked with (and for) some of the law firm partners in Friedman's social circle (I know because they bragged about it all the time). Reactionary misses the point that Friedman is trying to make (and that Friedman botches). What Friedman is saying is that the only lawyers in private practice who will survive and flourish will be the ones who seek out, develop and work on the most innovative and cutting edge transactions. Everything else will get commoditized.

David said...

We all need to be above average. So let's sign up for courses at the community college right away.

Friedman is a shit right out of the pages of Kevin MacDonald. Hope he gets plenty of money for rationalizing the plundering of America. Is that his version of bringing "chocolate sauce and cherries"?

Tom Piatak said...

An outstanding post.

David said...

> Friedman's right. Our schools must churn out more Goldman-Sachs executives. Who needs engineers and mechanics? <

Parasites are smart. Hosts are dumb.

Fred said...

"The realization that black dominance in boxing--central to racial pride--would be PERMANENT."

Not so permanent, it turns out. Currently, four out of four heavyweight belts are held by whites (the best of them is trained by a black man), and arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world today is a Filipino.

As for Jews, if you think being above average in intelligence is any guarantee of success, think again -- or just look at Half Sigma's blog and see how he whines about his lack of success. And bear in mind that there are lots of us Jews who don't have Ivy League degrees. We're trying to make it like the rest of you.

Marc B said...

"Nor did letting much of our manufacturing go overseas with the idea that we'd all get rich off selling each other ever more
complicated financial instruments."

Rush Limbaugh has been peddling this line line of Free Trade Globalist nonsense since before NAFTA. He tells Dittoheads calling in with complaints about jobs leaving the US and the debased standard of living they are witnessing how the immense creativity, work ethic, and resourcefulness of our people will propel the USA to unimaginable levels of prosperity and economic success. Being hung up on having an actual product or service to offer on this golden road is just getting hung up on the details, something winners never do.

Of course, he has provides zero specifics about how the US will accomplish this, but tells of the glorious free trade philosophy REAL conservatives hold dear, and implores them to stop being negative nervous ninnies. He was also a vocal supporter of open borders until around 2004 or so.

Peter A said...

you read Friedman, and he's so unspeakably bad, you think, "How can this guy be Jewish?"

I always assumed he was Sephardic, based on the mustache. Is he Ashkenzai?

Anonymous said...

Globablism obviously has failed 250 out of 300 million Americans. We were better off in 1985 even though we didn't have computers and cell phones back then.


I really wish Carlos Slim had not been able to lend the NYT all that money. I'd love to see Friedman unemployed. The elite basically get to employ their cheerleaders, like Friedman, to turn out tripe like that column. In the end, what Friedman is really suggesting, is that the people who have lost all their stuff are at fault, not globalization and a ridiculous housing bubble fueled by mass immigration. Its a bald-faced lie. If the factories were still here and being modernized, and the wall was built in 1990, America would be doing just fine, probably better than ever.

Anonymous said...

It's like what Steve says about women columnists - they want the world to admire the looks of women like them, Friedman wants to remind everyone how important his skill set (writing in the NY Times, getting on best seller lists thereby) is. So much more important than that of the people who actually make/fix/build/maintian things.

Funny that a guy who no doubt thinks of himself as egalitarian seems to despise workers.

At least the Hindus admit they have a caste system.

general torpor said...

"...7.5 acres in Bethesda?! Bethesda is pretty congested so he's really fortunate to have all that space there."

That probably means Potomac, just west of Bethesda, though I don't know what the official address would be. Potomac is full of estates-size dwellings that were described as "plantations" by one black woman from Barbados years ago. I don't think the slaves are black anymore, though.

Teller said...

Has anyone else ever heard Arne Duncan speak?

He was interviewed on CNN a few months ago.

He sounded like the one of the dumbest people ever.

OhioStater said...

Eventually the government will let the housing market correct and Americans will be able to afford a home in this new paradigm.

As supply meets demand, the price of housing and rents will fall to meet new incomes.

Although we are okay from the housing perspective, we won't be able to afford goods we import, such as oil.

England had this problem in the 1800s with respect to the tea trade, and their solution was the conquest of Hong Kong.

Anonymous said...

"How can this guy be Jewish?"

Out here in fly-over country, we assume that that's precisely why he has the job.

dr kill said...

Great post, great comments. Thank you, one and all.

jody said...

america's schools are cranking out mexican high school dropouts who will take jobs for low wages, doing what their east asian bosses tell them.

that's the future of california, for sure. with absolute certainty. i'm not clear on how this is a plan for being competitive with the rest of the world. a workforce of mexican high school dropouts. but that is the plan.

Anonymous said...

All this talk of creativity just shows that American culture hates creativity itself, yet values its end products.

Another hypocrisy is the great god of Society really hates creativity in minors. It does anything to stamp it out, to make children conform to being faceless 19th century factory zombies (or, for the elite, 19th century office zombies). This still goes on, even in "progressive" schools with their so-called "self-esteem".

If Society really wants to see more creativity, it can be a little less hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

Rainmakers?
What about Rain Men?

Mercer said...

Steve you should read the Patrick Welsh piece in the Washington Post last Sunday. He describes his experiences teaching in a heavily black school in a Alexandria.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

"The rhetoric about the new information society in which americans would play with ideas and invent cool stuff while grunt work would be performed by robots (or 3rd worlders) is ca 40 years old.

When I first heard this arrant nonsense, I was ca. 12, and I denounced it is piffle with the question:

what are the OTHER 99% of the people going to do for a living??

whereupon I was informed that I was cynical and elitist and just darned old mean.

And here we are....."

I remember reading, too, at age 12, those science fiction stories about grunt work being done by robots. Frederik Pohl wrote one called the Midas Plague where robots produced so much stuff, the problem became how to consume it all?
I, at that naive age, actually looked forward with gleeful anticipation to such a glorious future. But it has come to pass not at all. Instead of owning robots, turns out the future we actually got is to be race-replaced right out of existence.
Huh. So much for science fiction being so amazingly predictive.

Anonymous said...

This thread is proof positive why a centrally directed economy will never bring anything but economic destruction. Lets see, engineers should be paid more and investment bankers should be paid less. Perhaps good allocation of capital is a difficult undertaking, requiring rare skils and yielding great value? Who cares, you have a feeling the market is wrong and your reason would yield a better result. Look what a horrible job the govt does allocating capital. We built billions of dollars of too expensive homes, the most gold plated facilities in many cities are the Universities, etc. Automated checkout scanners take jobs away from people who can't do much more. Well the bulldozer took millions of jobs shoveling dirt away, its invention must have make the uneducated laborer poorer.

Anonymous said...

"Someday in the not too distant future American CEO's will be outsourced. The $20 million dollar American CEO can easily be replaced by a super-smart Indian who graduated from an IIT and speaks perfect english. The replacement will do a better job and for a fraction of the cost. I can't wait."


Are you high?

CEO's outsource others not themselves. That way their salary grows because they pay others less.

Why would they outsource their own jobs?

Eric said...

John Lukacs on his Harvard undergraduate students: They all very bright, with 1400s or 1500s on SATs, and they know a lot about movies, but nothing about history.

That's pretty damning. There's no way a voter can be anything but a dupe if he doesn't understand what's been tried before.

I hope that's mostly the result of the "these kids today..." sentiment older people get. Otherwise we're in big trouble.

Anonymous said...

"After all, what made white males feel anti-black when Jack Johnson whupped a whole bunch of white guys? The realization that black dominance in boxing--central to racial pride--would be PERMANENT. And, this is why many blacks, though privately knowing they are faster and stronger, have been loathe to admit this fact in public."

Good post Andrea except for this part. I can tell you don't watch much boxing because nowadays black dominance in boxing is very much in doubt. In the 90's there was a boxing version of "White Men Can't Jump" called "Great White Hype" where a black boxing promoter in the mold of Don King was scrounging around desperately for a white heavyweight contender. The movie turned out to be decidedly anti-prophetic in that all of the heavyweight champions (there are four major belts) today are whites from eastern Europe and so are a large percentage of the contenders.

Such are the pitfalls of commenting on a sport you don't follow closely, let alone participate in. The truth is that in boxing technique, both in the hands and the feet, is much more important than strength and speed. As a matter of fact strength isn't really a neccesary attribute at all. Punching power comes mostly from technique, much the same as a serve in tennis.

A better example of permanent black dominance in sport would be something like the receiver position in pro football. Since catching a football is hardly a rareified technique, the receivers with the best combination of physical attributes tend to rise to the top.

Rohan Swee said...

Anonymous: The rhetoric about the new information society in which americans would play with ideas and invent cool stuff while grunt work would be performed by robots (or 3rd worlders) is ca 40 years old.

When I first heard this arrant nonsense, I was ca. 12, and I denounced it is piffle with the question:

what are the OTHER 99% of the people going to do for a living??


You and me both, bro. OK, I wasn't that on the ball when I was 12, but this fundamental question did penetrate my wee noggin well before the turn of the millenium, so I should know better by now than to allow Tommy the Tool, the globo's favorite rent-boy, to raise my blood pressure with his hundreth idiotic iteration of this New Economy horseshit.

Anybody still peddling this crap c. Autumn 2009 deserves a hanging. I'd be mollified by a savage horsewhipping if hanging is inconvenient. Feeding 'em to zombies, pace Mr. Baldwin above, just doesn't do it for me. May be a generational thing.

You may have noticed, though, that there has been a slight shift in the propaganda in the last year or so. They used to blow smoke about how we would all benefit, except of course for a few losers who could be, er, retrained or something. Now they're admitting that, well, yes, the Emperor is buck-ass naked...and hahaha, you're all boned, middle-class losers! Sucks to be you!

Rohan Swee said...

[another] Anonymous: Yes, China with its humongous population of smart Chinese people may end up outcompeting us. But we'll still be doing ok as long as we let the entrepreneurs do their thing without too much "haters" and government regulation. The dumb alternative is to close up and be the General Motors national economy and sneer at other places doing much better than us.

Yeah, 'cause interfering in any way in letting 'em ship the rest of our jobs and productive capacity out of the country would be really bad for Teh Economy.

REGULARJOE said...

Steve, he means Untouchables in the Eliot Ness sense, the MC Hammer can't touch this. Sometimes you are just a little too smug in your razordom and have some silly things to say.

But, that said, yeh, the idea that all we need to do is get the kids failing the 'Basic' levels of math and reading in DC public schools to become rain making execs is obviously stupid. What's next, "all" we need to do is cure cancer? end war? merely eradicate disease or poverty?

Anonymous said...

It's funny that half the comments in the New York Times comments section say this means we need ever more school funding and higher teacher salaries.

The average public school teacher is about the farthest away on the continuum of people who should be mentoring a young creative nerd.

Scary world.

David Davenport said...

I had the same reaction to Rush Limbaugh 20 years ago as he went national and was constantly rah-rahing capitalism ...

That's one of the weak spots of both Rush L. and Sean Hannity. I catch a little of both their shows sometimes when driving around on weekday afternoons.

During 2006-2007 I heard both of them remark that stock markets are going up and up, up, and real estate is red hot, so that shows that the Bush admin. and free free markets are doin' fine.

Whether Rush and Sean really think that way or whether they only judge it good Republican politics to talk that talk, I dunno.

About an hour ago today, I had the car reddio-O on and Sean was blabbing about how he's opposed to limits on financiers' incomes .... contrary to the principles of free men and free markets, don't you see.

Words like that won't maximize your ratings, Mr. Hannity.

If I could ever talk to Mr. Hannity, I'd also ask him why he has to be so palsy-walsy with Neuticle Gingrich

PRCalDude said...

Friedman would likely take the position that design and the other creative elements that make Apple great can never be outsourced.

Uh, yes they can.

Apple is "great" only in the sense that they've duped a bunch of people into buying a mediocre box running on a Unix-based OS.

They're "great" at marketing. Isn't that just good salesmanship?

What Friedman is saying is that the only lawyers in private practice who will survive and flourish will be the ones who seek out, develop and work on the most innovative and cutting edge transactions. Everything else will get commoditized.

Don't you need 10-15 years experience to be able to sniff out those sorts of things? I mean, how does an entry-level lawyer do that - "innovate" - unless he's got gobs and gobs of IQ AND creativity?

I know in the engineering profession, you need either a) raw IQ or b) lots of experience before you can just go into "private practice" and create your own income stream.

If all of the entry-level work gets "commoditized" and shipped overseas, you can kiss innovation and "private practice" good-bye.

Aside from your comment, the others on this thread have been full of win.

Anonymous said...

After all, what made white males feel anti-black when Jack Johnson whupped a whole bunch of white guys? The realization that black dominance in boxing--central to racial pride--would be PERMANENT. "And, this is why many blacks, though privately knowing they are faster and stronger, have been loathe to admit this fact in public. Blacks have been afraid of white resentment. Blacks would rather have whites foolishly think that they too can be Carl Lewises and Muhammad Ali's IF THEY JUST TRAINED HARD ENOUGH. Otherwise, white resentment may lead to white rage and 'racist' violence."

Andrea(actually a man), besides having a bizarre obsession with black men, obviously has not watched much boxing in the last ten years.

Truth said...

"BTW, I simply don't buy it that America's schools are falling apart"

If it weren't for you shoving 37 lines of text into a single paragraph, I might agree with you Sport.

Marc B said...

"Now they're admitting that, well, yes, the Emperor is buck-ass naked...and hahaha, you're all boned, middle-class losers! Sucks to be you!"

While most people were busy being inflamed about Obama's "bitter clingers" portion of his speech in San Francisco before the election, the most telling and inflammatory part about "jobs that are just not coming back" was almost completely ignored.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that half the comments in the New York Times comments section say this means we need ever more school funding and higher teacher salaries."

Teacher's union argument: The reason Johnny can't read is because the wages teachers get aren't enough to attract and keep intelligent, talented, and serious people to the profession. You should pay us more.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

This thread is proof positive why a centrally directed economy will never bring anything but economic destruction. Lets see, engineers should be paid more and investment bankers should be paid less. Perhaps good allocation of capital is a difficult undertaking, requiring rare skils and yielding great value?"

Investment bankers are certainly good at allocating capital to themselves.

May you someday find yourself in an airplane, elevator, or on a bridge designed by a company that, on the advice of the highest priced financial consultants, hired the lowest priced engineers.

Mr. Anon said...

"David Davenport said...

That's one of the weak spots of both Rush L. and Sean Hannity. I catch a little of both their shows sometimes when driving around on weekday afternoons."

I don't believe Rush Limbaugh is dumb, or as arrogant as he sounds on the Radio. But he is, for the most part, a Republican party shill, so I can't stand him.

Hannity routinely invites George Bush's brain trust on to his show and hangs on their every word. Why should I give a damn what Karl Rove thinks? Why should I consider him as anything other than a fool or a traitor? As to Hannity, I think that Lawrence Auster summed him up best: "He looks stupid. He sounds stupid. He is stupid."

Anonymous said...

"This thread is proof positive why a centrally directed economy will never bring anything but economic destruction. Lets see, engineers should be paid more and investment bankers should be paid less. Perhaps good allocation of capital is a difficult undertaking, requiring rare skils and yielding great value?"

Evidence please?

"Who cares, you have a feeling the market is wrong and your reason would yield a better result. Look what a horrible job the govt does allocating capital."

Ah right. That's the libertarian's "evidence", as always. Government bureaucrats are bad at it, therefore "allocation of capital" is a process of almost mystical difficulty.

Sure, proper investment of a society's resources is a difficult problem. Guess what? Life is pretty damn chock full of difficult problems; even those people who, according to you, are worth about as much as an automated checkout scanner, still have to solve some knotty ones.

But isn't it funny how the guys who's particular problem is HOW TO HAND OUT MONEY just somehow end up getting more of it than everyone else? The credulity (or mendacity) of libertarians is mind-boggling.

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

Well as far as folks in the finance industry being overpaid and engineers underpaid...I agree. I work in corporate law and the main purpose of my job is helping bankers and companies get around our securities laws.

The high compensation in the finance industry is not a result of bankers, attorneys, and fund managers having skills that only a few people have. It is a product of a combination of gatekeeping and graft backed by the power of the feds.

Anonymous said...

Teacher's union argument: The reason Johnny can't read is because the wages teachers get aren't enough to attract and keep intelligent, talented, and serious people to the profession. You should pay us more.

Nice one. So maybe we should offer them a deal: we'll raise teacher pay by 25%, but everyone has to quit and reapply for their jobs. What're the odds they'd take the deal, especially with so many people out of work?

David said...

> This thread is proof positive why a centrally directed economy will never bring anything but economic destruction. <

No, the current mess is proof positive why a centrally directed economy will never bring anything but economic destruction.

If you think what we have today is capitalism, think again. As Pissed Off Chinaman said:

> The high compensation in the finance industry is not a result of bankers, attorneys, and fund managers having skills that only a few people have. It is a product of a combination of gatekeeping and graft backed by the power of the feds. <

The United States economy is not free; it is mostly government-managed for the sake of a corrupt oligarch class. It has been so for a long time. What we complain of, in short, is not a natural outcome of free markets, but a criminal distortion of free markets.

If you want the real libertarian stuff, forget Boortz and Hannity and Limbaugh and the Alissa Rosenbaum Institute for Wall Street and Israel. Try Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Here and here (PDF).

Anonymous said...

If a city's sanitation workers go on strike the city will become uninhabitable and more lives will be lost to disease than if the city's doctors go on strike. what does that tell you about what the relative salaries of doctors and sanitation workers should be? Sonsini, my secirities professor, was a small town lawyer when silicon valley grew up in his back yard. The year he taught me he did more initial public offerings than any hundred year old white shoe NYC three hundred lawyer insider connected firm. In fact he did the most IPO's in the nation. I guess those people guarding the entry into that line of business were on sabatical. Millikin devistated established houses and he had no friends in the boardrooms or Washington.

Tanstaafl said...

I disagree. Jews may be many things - but the most creative? Where did this come from?

This is Andrea's usual schtick, which is to take as a given every positive stereotype about jews and blacks (and then some), and every negative stereotype about Whites (and then some), stir, and excrete in overlong packages that sugar coat and obscure an otherwise elementary observation. In this case the observation is that some jews fear a backlash against the malfeasance of other jews, but they have the dishonest tendency to sugar coat and obscure that fear. She should know.

As others have already pointed out, what Andrea describes as the "PERMANENT" "black dominance in boxing" isn't. See White Boxers Close Out 2009 With A Bang.

Note that Andrea's larger point is that "white resentment may lead to white rage and 'racist' violence", justifying jewish fear and downplaying jewish malfeasance.

Tanstaafl said...

Friedman advocates genocidal levels of immigration and then complains, Where Did ‘We’ Go?

Bozell said...

This thread is proof positive why a centrally directed economy will never bring anything but economic destruction. Lets see, engineers should be paid more and investment bankers should be paid less. Perhaps good allocation of capital is a difficult undertaking, requiring rare skils and yielding great value? Who cares, you have a feeling the market is wrong and your reason would yield a better result. Look what a horrible job the govt does allocating capital.

Those of us making arguments along these lines ARE NOT arguing for central planning. We're not stupid. The rise of the financial industry and the decline of engineering/manufacturing is largely a result of government involvement/cozy relationships with finance, not of the workings of the "free market."

Truth said...

"ets see, engineers should be paid more and investment bankers should be paid less."

Another Commie Barack fan, huh?

For the 11th time, investment bankers are worth more than engineers because they bring more money INTO the company.

Athletes are paid more than social workers because 50,000 people don't pay $100 to watch a social worker make a home visit.

Like it, accept it, or move to Russia

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

Ummmm...anonymous

Why would you say Andrea is actually a man. How do you know this?

Anonymous said...

"Truth said...

"ets see, engineers should be paid more and investment bankers should be paid less."

Another Commie Barack fan, huh?

For the 11th time, investment bankers are worth more than engineers because they bring more money INTO the company.

Athletes are paid more than social workers because 50,000 people don't pay $100 to watch a social worker make a home visit.

Like it, accept it, or move to Russia"

You really don't even pay attention to the posts you comment on, do you? The poster whom you quote was agreeing with you, not that such a minor fact as that should interfere with your automatic snark response.

Idiot.

David said...

Truth has once again set us straight. The most successful company would consist exclusively of financiers and salesmen, no product required. It's the New Economy, sport.

Richard Hoste said...

Evidence please?

"Who cares, you have a feeling the market is wrong and your reason would yield a better result. Look what a horrible job the govt does allocating capital."

Ah right. That's the libertarian's "evidence", as always. Government bureaucrats are bad at it, therefore "allocation of capital" is a process of almost mystical difficulty.

Sure, proper investment of a society's resources is a difficult problem. Guess what? Life is pretty damn chock full of difficult problems; even those people who, according to you, are worth about as much as an automated checkout scanner, still have to solve some knotty ones.

But isn't it funny how the guys who's particular problem is HOW TO HAND OUT MONEY just somehow end up getting more of it than everyone else? The credulity (or mendacity) of libertarians is mind-boggling.


You speak nonsense. In a true free market system bankers wouldn't be compensated so much. They deal in money, and monetary policy is the subject of socialist planning. It's called the federal reserve.

Truth said...

"Truth has once again set us straight. The most successful company would consist exclusively of financiers and salesmen, no product required. It's the New Economy, sport."

Yep, that's exactly what I wrote Dave. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to bang my head against the wall repeatedly.

Andrea said...

"As others have already pointed out, what Andrea describes as the 'PERMANENT' 'black dominance in boxing' isn't. See White Boxers Close Out 2009 With A Bang."

This is not because whites are better boxers but because many blacks are no longer interested in boxing. When many pro team sports were closed off to blacks, boxing looked enticing to many blacks, and boxers were greatly admired in the black community. Also, when there were fewer boxing leagues, being a champion really meant something. Not anymore, what with WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, XYZ federations.

Best black athletes understandably go into NBA, NFL, or even baseball than boxing, a sport which isn't even respected anymore by most people. And, why is it that even most white people are not excited about boxing though there are many successful white boxers(mostly from Eastern Europe)? Because everyone knows that the talent pool in boxing today is one of the weakest ever. Could any of today's white heavyweight champions have defeated Liston, Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Holmes, Tyson, Norton(in his prime), or even Floyd Patterson? Some might have gone distance--Vitali Klitschko is one tough hombre--, but I don't see them winning. If Jerry Quarry and Gerry Cooney were around today as young boxers, they might be champions too. There isn't much excitement because today's white boxers became champions by beating second-rate black boxers like Chris Byrd and Rahman. Lewis was the last of the great black heavyweights(but even he couldn't have defeated the past black champions in their prime).

Why did a white European team win the gold in Athens in 2004? Because whites were suddenly better than blacks? No, because US didn't send the best blacks. But, guess who won comfortably in 2008--or whenever US sends the best of the NBA.

Why are white boxers doing better now? Best blacks are not going into boxing. Talented blacks go into pro team sports, and tough street blacks go into drug dealing than join a boxing gym--like they once used to droves to be the next Joe Louis or Ali. (Also, with the rise of cable TV, internet, and more choices for sports entertainment, it's harder to draw everyone's attention to the Great Fight like they used to when boxing was broadcast on one of the three network channels).

Besides, there's also the more lucrative career in rap where being a thug is part of the aura. If you're a tough black guy who dropped out of school, would you rather try to make it as a rapper or a boxer? Even being a drug-dealer--related to rap culture in a way--would be more appealing than training like crazy just to be punched in the face 500 times a day.
Even so, many boxing weight classes are still heavily represented by blacks.

Andrea said...

"Ummmm...anonymous
Why would you say Andrea is actually a man. How do you know this?"

He, she, or it knows something I don't. I guess anyone who speaks brashly on racial or social issues MUST be a Man.

Black Sea said...

When you claim that something is PERMANENT, then provide a five paragraph rationalization explaining why it isn't, aren't you contradicting yourself?

Truth said...

"Could any of today's white heavyweight champions have defeated Liston, Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Holmes, Tyson, Norton(in his prime), or even Floyd Patterson?"

I would have put my money on the Klitchkos to beat them all except possibly Foreman. They are thirty pounds heaver, and athletes just get better with time.

huff said...

You speak nonsense. In a true free market system bankers wouldn't be compensated so much. They deal in money, and monetary policy is the subject of socialist planning. It's called the federal reserve.

Right. You simply can't treat the financial industry as if it's the product of a completely unfettered, free market. There is government involvement in many sectors of the economy to various degrees, and this has an effect on determining the size, power, revenues, compensation, etc. of a particular industry. If you add up things like deposit insurance, regulation, tight connections with government, Fed Reserve, control of interest rates, heavy gov't involvement, etc., it's quite clear that financial industry revenues and thus compensation aren't the result of some kind of efficient free market.

Bruce Banned said...

It seems Friedman has the right answer for everything: "suck on this".
http://tinyurl.com/friedman-suck-on-this

Middletown Girl said...

"Could any of today's white heavyweight champions have defeated Liston, Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Holmes, Tyson, Norton(in his prime), or even Floyd Patterson?"

"I would have put my money on the Klitchkos to beat them all except possibly Foreman. They are thirty pounds heaver, and athletes just get better with time."

--------------

Wlad Klitschko has a glass chin and got KO'ed badly several times. Vitali has been solid but he lost to an aging Lewis. To be sure, the fight was stopped due to cuts, but Lewis was ahead on points and most probably would have won if the fight had gone all the way.

Size isn't everything in boxing. Ali defeated very big and strong Joe Bugner two or three times. Chuvalo was a big strong bull of a man but he was no match for Ali or Frazier. Tyson fought guys much bigger, heavier, and taller than him, but he beat most of them.
Roy Jones beat Ruiz. Michael Spinks beat bigger Gerry Cooney. Sugar Ray Leonard beat the bigger/taller Donnie Lalonde.

And, one could also argue that if Ali and Frazier had been born when the Klitschkos were born, they would be even bigger/better fighters, in which case Klitschko would have even less chance of beating either.

This isn't to dismiss Vitali Klitsch who is a fabulous boxer and a good guy. But, he's champ during a very bad time in boxing when no one is interested. He's not the Great White Hope who defeated a mighty black guy but a Good White Afterthought when blacks generally look down on boxing as a trash sport. It's like many urban black cabbies have left that business for limo business. Black limo drivers look down on as cab drivers as grubby middle eastern immigrants.

Btw, I wonder if the high rate of black incarceration has affected black representation in boxing. Consider that boxers have generally come from the dregs of any social group. (Klitches are really an exception in this regard. Champ with a Ph.d?)

Since the Clinton era, nearly 25% of black males have been or are in Jail. Consider that Tyson went to jail when he was still formidable and lost the chance to dominate for another 5 or 7 yrs as he well could have. Black prison rate has been historically high, but it really soared since the 90s when New Democrat Clinton got tough on crime. Also, with the decay in black communities--with more guns and drugs--, more black males turned to criminality and ended up dead by gunfire or ended up behind bars in their teens and 20s--when they would have been best at something like boxing.

Middletown Girl said...

"When you claim that something is PERMANENT, then provide a five paragraph rationalization explaining why it isn't, aren't you contradicting yourself?"

Let me put it in another way. Whites feared permanence of black dominance in sports that most captured the national imagination. When boxing mattered, blacks dominated. Boxing no longer matters, so blacks have slackened from following that career path. But, in sports that matter most now in the US--football, basketball, and baseball--, blacks do indeed dominate. Football and basketball obviously. Baseball still has many white players, but many of the top sluggers do tend to be black.

socialcritic said...

I agree with much of your observations, and to those I would add a few of my own:

1) Tom Friedman's descriptions of the New Untouchables actually refer to personality traits. Creative (visionary), Analytical (thinking type), Entrepreneur (risk taker), etc. These temperament descriptions appear in the Keirsey Temperament Analysis sorter of the bestselling "Please Understand Me" fame.

2) Teachers, like parents, can build off of what is already there but they can't exert control over the "nature" aspect of the nurture vs. nature equation.

3) Education alone can't always insert the perfect formula for success: a person may be creative but too unconventional to advance, a person may be highly intelligent but lack the right piece of paper, someone may be a visionary or entrepreneur but lack the skills to persuade and sell their ideas. It takes just the right combination to produce not just "comfortably middle class" but the extraordinary worker Friedman describes.

4) If one must be a genius to survive in this Brave New Economy, it doesn't take much genius to know that there aren't enough of them. Do these people who promote education as a panacea not realize that dead economic weight and a downward pressure on wages ultimately comes full circle to impact their earnings reports and their consumer and customer base? You're shrinking your market for your services or products if fewer and fewer people can afford them!

I too wrote about Friedman's October 2009 column — and linked to your blog — on my own piece titled American Competitiveness: The New Untouchables or the New Half Truth?.

Thanks for letting me vent…