Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tom Friedman says, Enough.

NYTimes columnist Tom Friedman has long been one of globalization's great cheerleaders, riding to the commanding heights of punditry with catchy titles like The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat. More recently he's been turning a shade of green (more in nausea than out of a sense of conviction, I'd say).  Even so, it's remarkable to see him raising some fundamental questions about the whole growth model in his March 8th column:

Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”

We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese ...

We can’t do this anymore.
When the prime exponent of economic coupling--the prophet of what Niall Ferguson called "Chimerica"--sees the writing on the wall, there's reason to think we're at or close to a cultural tipping point.

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