Recombinant Friedman

My rephrasing of Thomas Friedman’s column today:

“One of the best ways to learn about the changing labor market, if you can’t find a taxi driver to have a conversation with on your way to the airport, is to find some well-connected guy who used to work at Goldman-Sachs, who has a start-up that he’s desperately trying to flog, and let him tell you all about how great his start-up idea is.

If you let that guy write half your column for you, you’ll discover that today’s employers, unlike yesterday’s, would like their employees to have useful skills. And they don’t care where you got your skills from: they’ll be glad to undervalue and underpay you for those skills no matter where they’re from, and discard you like an old toilet paper roll once they’ve decided that they want some other skills.

With some pluck and drive, you can work your way up from the mail room! Oh, wait, those are the old notes. Checking. Ah! Just take the energy to teach yourself neurosurgery, high-tech manufacturing assembly, preparation of petri dish cultures, Python, persuasive analytic writing, and graphic design when you get home from working two different low-wage service jobs, and you’re sure to find an employer looking for those skills who will overlook you because there’s no real way on a resume to show that you’ve acquired those skills through self-study.

Trust me, though, you won’t regret not going to college. In this bold new world where employers actually want people who can do the jobs they’re hiring for, I and my taxi driver can tell you that a world of opportunity awaits if you know the right people at Davos.”

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11 Responses to Recombinant Friedman

  1. lemmy caution says:

    The fact that the company was started by Friedman’s daughter’s ex-roomate just cracks me up.

  2. Withywindle says:

    He seems to be mocked by people right across the political spectrum. Are there any bloggers out there who, contrarianly, give him kudos?

  3. Timothy Burke says:

    I really don’t think so. I talked not too long ago with someone who is working with him on a current project and even he was rather sheepish about it, saying that Friedman’s prominence made him a useful way to get attention but that he was more or less empty-headed, a Zelig of the punditry, overtaken by every trend or fad that crossed his desk.

  4. yie says:

    Your characterization of Nick seems unfair and you’ve put Ellinora’s words in his mouth. =\

  5. bruce says:

    Robert Parker’s Spenser liked Thomas Friedman. So, if fictional characters who are also idealized author surrogates count, that’s one.

    Friedman’s articles slide right through my brain- not even bad. Afterwards I don’t remember a thing.

  6. Michael says:

    I laughed through this, so thanks. Th. Friedman and David Brooks are two “thinkers” who take up a lot of public space, and I don’t understand why. They both seem like pretentious frauds spiced with idiocy.

    Nassim Taleb often mentions that a consultation with a random cabbie is as good as paying your stockbroker. Maybe Friedman has been reading Taleb in an effort to get ideas for his drivel?

  7. JohnR says:

    After literally moments of focused concentration, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Friedman does indeed talk to his cab drivers. I don’t think he listens to them in quite the same way, though. I suspect that he has an internal translator of sorts which simply replaces the various noises that come from the direction of the driver (“Whaddaya, nuts?!”) with facile Deep Thoughts from his inexhaustible Storage Banks O’ Buzzphrases. The impressive thing is that (if I am correct) this happens in the eyeblink of time between his ear detecting the vibrations in the air, and his brain turning those vibrations into seemingly coherent chunks of language. That’s a pretty impressive on-the-fly translator; Star Trek couldn’t do better. It’s a shame he’s putting it to such a picayune purpose – like using a Cray to play tic-tac-to.

  8. Withywindle says:

    I’ve had a number of pretty interesting conversations with taxi drivers over the years. (Jim Jarmusch must have too.) They just don’t map well onto Thomas Friedman columns. (The best, actually, are listening to “this is the story of my life,” on long rides to or from an airport.)

  9. ezra abrams says:

    before he became a pundit, TF was a good reporter; from leb to beirut has some outstanding bits
    ?peter principle at work

    during the beirut civil war, when you couldn’t drive down the street without being stopped by a gang of ak47 armed thugs, TF is astonished to discover a thriving luxury resort on the Med.
    Wealthy woman of a certain age with drinks, etc etc
    TF asks the manager, how on earth do you do this amid all the chaos and gunfire ?
    well says the manager we have our own security
    ? say TF
    well says the manager, suppose a couple of jeeps full of guys with submachine guns showed up at the front door – we could handle that, no problem.

  10. Barry says:

    Michael says:
    “I laughed through this, so thanks. Th. Friedman and David Brooks are two “thinkers” who take up a lot of public space, and I don’t understand why. They both seem like pretentious frauds spiced with idiocy. ”

    If I were teaching a class on ‘Media as Power Structure Propaganda’, I’d feature Friedman’s columns prominently. If you think of him and Brooks as establishment propagandists, then what they say and how they say it looks much more appropriate.

  11. Doug K says:

    Friedman and Brooks have expensive private pedestals from which they pollute the public stream of discourse. Clearly there are great jobs to be found in comforting the comfortable; panglossing the news for complacent elites.
    Friedman is mostly just vacuous, where the average Brooks column is an entropic pothole from which you emerge knowing less than when you started reading.

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