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Ear to the Ground

A Billionaire Scion: Tom Friedman

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Posted on Aug 19, 2006
Tom Friedman
From brandeis.edu

Tom Friedman

Tom Friedman’s opinions on the Iraq war have long been proved bankrupt (here, here and most recently, here) but if you still put stock in his economic analysis about free trade and outsourcing, keep in mind that he’s the heir to a multibillion-dollar real estate fortune, and may not be speaking for the little guy. Political strategist Dave Sirota has the goods.


Dave Sirota:

I’ve documented repeatedly how New York Times columnist Tom Friedman parrots the propaganda of Big Money, using his column to legitimize some of the worst, most working-class-persecuting policies this country has seen in the last century - all while bragging on television that he doesn’t even bother read the details of the policies he advocates for. I have always believed Friedman’s perspective comes from the bubble he lives in - that is, I have always believed he feels totally at ease shilling for Big Money and attacking workers because from the comfortable confines of the Washington suburbs he lives in and the elite cocktail parties he attends, what Friedman says seems mainstream to him. But I never had any idea how dead on I was about the specific circumstances of Friedman’s bubble - and how it potentially explains a lot more than I ever thought.

As the July edition of the Washingtonian Magazine notes, Friedman lives in “a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club.” He “married into one of the 100 richest families in the country” - the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.

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By Ananda3, August 20, 2006 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sure Friedman is biased but so what?  Ignore what he says and look at the example he sets for how to say it.  No ad hominem attacks.  No appeals to fear and hatred.  No demonization of “them” (pick a group of people to dislike).  Would we be better off with a liberalized clone of Ann Coulter?

Please let’s not be too hard on Friedman.  Who here isn’t biased and blind to at least some unpleasant facts?  So often he focuses on how things could be better instead of whose fault it is that things are the way they are.  He makes the effort to construct plausible arguments instead of just pushing people’s hot buttons.  Let’s meet him on that playing field and understand where his specific arguments are biased and wrong, not where he himself is flawed—unlike the rest of us, I suppose.

If we want the world to be a better place we have to become better people.

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By Fadel Abdallah, August 19, 2006 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Of all those who commented on Tom Friedman, all but one have failed to mention the magic key word as to what explains his Neocon vision. Only Hilding Lindquist hit the nail on the head when he uttered the word “Zionist.” This word explains it all, and no further analysis or speculation is needed.

As a marginal note on this, I feel embarrassed that I attended the graduate school at the University of Minnesota, from which this character graduated too. While I was there back in the late seventies and early eighties, I thought there were too many Zionists in control at one institution for a world population estimated at only 14 million worldwide. They even wanted to control the teaching of Arabic and related fields at that institution. I had a battle with them over that, which naturally I lost. However, I did put a courageous fight and caused some embarrassment to that institution. It’s all on record as a footnote to history!

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By Lance, August 19, 2006 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He makes the ludicrous comparison of today’s changing economic/employment situtation to the paradigm shift from an agrarian to industrial economy in the US.  Why, back then in the mid to late 19th century all that had to be done was reeductae our workforce - instead of teaching some farm kids how to drive a mule team with a plow, just teach them to run a drill press or a lathe.  Presto!  Everyone is employed again!  It was just a simple education problem.  A little matter of retraining.  That’s all.

So now that multinational corporations are shipping jobs overseas by the boatload, and eliminating more jobs in equal numbers by replacing them with technology, all we need to do is retrain the newly unemployed to take on the jobs that are left.

But I wonder…will CEO’s be willing to work out day/night job sharing?

He’s a fraud.

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By gaius sempronius gracchus, August 19, 2006 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Phooey.

Free trading oligarchs deindustrialize America and impoverish the US working class to make a killing exploiting the bejeezus out of foreigners, and outraged fair trader lefties respond by calling for action to defend the foreigners.

Hey, thanks, fair traders. That will help me and my friends, and my family, and my mother and dad, quite a lot, thanks.

You dicks.

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By Eleanore Kjellberg, August 19, 2006 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Friedman, unlike Kennedy, uses his position to push the very specific economic policies (such as “free” trade) that the superwealthy in this country are pushing and exclusively benefit from. That’s why his billionaire scion status is so important for the public to know - because it raises objectivity questions. If, for instance, Richard Mellon Scaife wrote articles in newspapers demanding the repeal of the estate tax - don’t you think it would be important for readers to be warned that Scaife was a multimillionaire whose family (and the few families like his) would almost exclusively benefit from the policies he was writing about?”

Actually Friedman is a “public relations” huckster for the ruling class.  His economic status is not overtly mentioned, so that he can more effectively promote his propaganda—- free trade benefits the working-class, while globalization and the devaluing of U.S. wages, is a gain for workers—-another example of twisted Right-wing logic, or illogic.   

This modus operandi of not telling the public what NGO a writer, speaker or political pundit represents, is too common; and utterly deceptive.  It’s similar to a celebrity “hawking” prescription drugs, and not telling the audience, that they are receiving a paycheck from a pharmaceutical company.

But what else can be expected, in a “vulgar” economic system, where the “owners” can only be satisfied, with the total exploitation of the working-class, not believing that a fair profit is good enough.

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By robert puglia, August 19, 2006 at 11:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

he’s milchedig, a surefire palliative for insomnia. when i didn’t know he was loaded i perceived his bias, not that it was or is concealed. i don’t see much reason to get worked up about him, at all. given his dire six-month forecasts revised every six months i’m glad he has another source of income. perhaps he’ll sooner turn to it and leave space for something worth reading.

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By kevin99999, August 19, 2006 at 10:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While I was not aware of his wealthy background, I have never fully agreed with his analysis and suspected that he was fronting for U.S. corporate interests in advocating certain policies.

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By harald hardrada, August 19, 2006 at 10:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

tom’s still fighting—he’s still telling bush & cheney to send more troops to iraq—tom’s not one to give up, provided it’s other folks’ kids who do the dirty work & provided he can still get his three squares a day

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By jon, August 19, 2006 at 9:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Often time, stock commentators have to make “full disclosure” if they own stocks which they dispense opinions to the investing public. Therefore, one would speculate if their opinions are biased or honest.

Friedman is an heir to multibillion fortune. He didn’t make any disclosure before or after commenting financial and economic related issues.
The man has no credibility.

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By rabblerowzer, August 19, 2006 at 7:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Vast Rightwing Conspiracy Theory isn’t a matter of conjecture, it’s a matter of fact. A half dozen corporations do own and control most of our newspaper and media outlets, and they are part of the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy to impose an Authoritarian Government on America. Those corporations are in turn owned by America’s “elite,” the richest and most politically powerful families in the U.S.A.

The corporate media disseminates lies and propaganda to bolster Authoritarian leaders and to crush dissent. They have accomplished their goals, we have in fact an Authoritarian Government in America.

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By Hilding Lindquist, August 19, 2006 at 5:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tom Friedman is coming unhinged. He has become so discredited by his support of the Neocon - Rapturist - Zionist (NRZ) vision of Israel/USA hegemony in the Middle East that his new attempts to try to get in front of the rising tide of public opinion against that vision and mitigate the damage is laughable.

Welcome to the real world, Tom. We (the USA) have Haliburton. Iran has Hezbollah. Who does anybody think is better at reconstruction? ... and who is greeted with strewn flowers in their path? While this market may not be free, it appears to be rational.

But you gotta hand it to the man, he sure can make complex issues sound simple!

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By Druthers, August 19, 2006 at 4:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have no idea of Friedman’s personal fortune and could not care less, but if it is his wife who inheirts we are not living in the middle ages. Women’s rights do exist! When a man marries he does not gain property rights to his wife’s fortune or future inheirtance and very probably there are pre-neputial agreements in such cases.  That he may have adopted the class interests, if he did not already hold them,
of our new aristocracy is probably.

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