What Planet Do They Live On?


It is difficult to render me speechless, but this may have done it. Thomas Friedman in the New York Times tells us in very earnest tones with very earnest meaning that we very earnestly must -- MUST -- be willing to be the generation that takes the hit.

We are leaving an era where to be a mayor, governor, senator or president was, on balance, to give things away to people. And we are entering an era where to be a leader will mean, on balance, to take things away from people. It is the only way we’ll get our fiscal house in order before the market, brutally, does it for us.

As evidence of the very serious nature of his admonition that the "market" is waiting to hammer us over the head, he cites Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed as a leader willing to be a "pay-as-you-go" progressive. The backgrounder on Reed is impressive - he seems to be a creative man who benefitted from Federal matching grants to get his education, and who certainly has some conscience when it comes to social issues concerning equality. He is clearly quite bright.

Yet, the gist of Friedman's argument seems to be that one generation needs to suck it up in order to make things nice for the next one.

Ahem. Excuse me. For all the vilification of the Boomer generation, it might be worth remembering that our work is paying for our parents' benefits as well as our own. The problem isn't "us". The problem is the seismic shift in where the nation's wealth lies. So when I read platitudes like this, they leave me a bit speechless.

In a recent address, Reed elaborated: “The bottom line is that for the country to do and to be what we have been ... there must be a generation tough enough to stick out its chin and take the hit. ... It is time to begin having the types of mature and honest conversations necessary to deal effectively with the new economic realities we are facing as a nation. We simply cannot keep kicking the can down the road.”

See? There it is again. That whole "honest conversation" thing again. Really, it's what John said, and which I echo: F&ck that. Talk to me about sticking out my chin when you take care of the fat cats' double chin, especially while sitting in the comfort of your "palatial 11,400-square-foot house, currently valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel" in Bethesda, Maryland, with your heiress wife. Until then, screw your mature and honest conversations.


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