Tom Friedman: Something Something, Blah Blah Blah

tom friedman, wankerOh LOOK, professional centrist Tom Friedman used his position at the “best job in the world,” which we are all “jealous of,” to share with us some deep thoughts on how we should be fixing the economy. See, the whole problem, you guys, is that we haven’t created enough of something called “startups.” If 2,000 people in each town would just make one of these startup thingies, he says, and also if we kept our markets the “freest” and “most trusted,” well, everything would be FINE and Tom Friedman could go back to getting paid craploads of money for using mixed metaphors and advocating for a third party that does exactly what the other two parties already do.

Via the New York Times:

Obama should aspire to make America the launching pad where everyone everywhere should want to come to launch their own moon shot, their own start-up, their own social movement. We can’t stimulate or tax-cut our way to growth. We have to invent our way there. The majority of new jobs every year are created by start-ups. The days when Ford or G.E. came to town with 10,000 jobs are over. Their factories are much more automated today, and their products are made in global supply chains. Instead, we need 2,000 people in every town each starting something that employs five people.

We need everyone starting something! Therefore, we should aspire to be the world’s best launching pad because our work force is so productive; our markets the freest and most trusted; our infrastructure and Internet bandwidth the most advanced; our openness to foreign talent second to none; our funding for basic research the most generous; our rule of law, patent protection and investment-friendly tax code the envy of the world; our education system unrivaled; our currency and interest rates the most stable; our environment the most pristine; our health care system the most efficient; and our energy supplies the most secure, clean and cost-effective.

No, we are not all those things today — but building America into this launching pad for more start-ups is precisely what an Obama second term should be about, so more Americans can thrive in a world we invented. If we can make America the best place to dream something, design something, start something, collaborate with others on something and manufacture something — in an age in which every link in that chain can now be done in so many more places — our workers and innovators will do just fine.

So much to choose from here. Choices, choices. But let’s start with this: does Tom Friedman actually ever bother to READ the New York Times? Your Wonkette thinks he does not, because if he did, he’d know that small companies and startups DON’T actually create the majority of jobs each year.  But yes, just for funsies, let’s talk more about these “startups,” and how they will save the economy so long as we “invent our way there.” When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion dollars, it was making no money and  employed only 13 people. At last count, Kickstarter had collected over a million backers and only had 32 employees, and Pinterest, which was valued not too long ago at $1.5 billion, has only 31 employees  and it looks like generates revenue through the legal but shady practice of tracking people’s pins without telling them.

So great idea Tom! If we somehow manage to cut corporate taxes, improve our bandwidth, and keep our markets the “freest” AND the “most trusted” while simultaneously realizing that we can’t actually rely on any Job Creators or stimulations to claw our way back to prosperity, then best case scenario — judging from the recent past — is that 2000 people in every town will make startups that produce nothing, employ next to no one, and have no discernable revenue stream. Welcome to the future.

[the New York Times]

About the author

Kris E. Benson writes about politics for Wonkette and is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. This will come in handy for when they finally open that philosophy factory in the next town over. @Kris_E_Benson

View all articles by Kris E. Benson
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  1. AbandonHope

    Yeah, Tom, because it's not like patents have shifted from becoming a tool to protect small innovators and inventors to being tactical weapons stockpiled by enormous megalithic companies so they can threaten to sue each other out of existence.

    But wait, I have a great idea for a startup; let me just go and borrow $20,000 from my parents, okay?

  2. CivicHoliday

    In this particular chicken and egg scenario, I'm pretty sure you need capital to get your startup going, and unless the Gates suddenly decides to fund every harebrained scheme on Kickstarter, I think Friedman is full of shit.

    1. Caelan Aegana

      Not only is Tom clueless about what else is in the NYT, but he appears to be clueless about his own derp derp derping.

      Just because he has a Magical Money Fairy doesn't mean our individual enterprise moonshot launchpad entrepeneurships (Think about all the launchpadz, and bandwidth tubez!) just pop out of thin air, riding on the backs of soaring eagles.

  3. SorosBot

    So the mustache is telling everyone that You Got To Be Startin' Somethin' – somehow I think Michael Jackson lyrics are not the best source for policy ideas.

    1. ritingon

      That, friend, is why he gets paid the big bucks and you don't. Only the 'stache can derive policy from pop. Or rather, only he can get paid for it.

    2. HistoriCat

      Herman Cain is going to kick some mustache-ass for horning in on his source of policy ideas!

      1. tessiee

        Whereas John Bolton is merely grinding his teeth with mustache envy.

        OK, I just like the word "mustache".

    1. noodlesalad

      He's a centrist in that there's a gap between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and that's where most of his ideas live, in that empty, blank space.

  4. freakishlywrong

    Aaaaand..ok, pornstache, should we, like RMoney suggests, just borrow that seed money from our parents?

  5. FNMA

    I'm wondering whether Tom will loan me $20,000 to start up my own business. My mom's kinda broke.

      1. tessiee

        Be nice; do you realize how many two dollar BJs she had to give to become even a millionaire?

  6. An_Outhouse

    I started up a lemonade stand. After investing in a quality table, fabulous sign, and fresh ingredients, some little rich twerp from across town trade marked 'lemonade', hired a lawyer, and sued my ass into the poor house. Then he doubled his prices.

    1. AbandonHope

      You probably had prior art there, but I'm sure the rich kid was able to "persuade" the patent office otherwise with a sizable "donation".

    2. actor212

      What you need to do is to corner the market on lemon futures, then turn around and sell it to him at triple what you paid.

      I saw this in an Eddie Murphy movie, it worked really well.

  7. noodlesalad

    Ralph Wiggum grew up and got a column in the NY Times. Is this a great country or what? (What.)

      1. noodlesalad

        Remember, Tommy, if your nose bleeds, you're picking it too much. Or not enough. Best to be a centrist nose picker.

  8. Billmatic

    Actually a more pertinent question would be, does the New York Times actually READ Tom Friedman?

  9. sudsmckenzie

    lemmi guess, he got this idea standing in the private plane tarmac at the Bridgeport airport.

  10. prommie

    What did he fucking see in the airport now? A fucking taco joint, so now the world is mexican?

    1. FakaktaSouth

      The ONLY Mexicans I GOT LEFT here in Aladamnbama are the ones I get the best damn margaritas in my life from – Tommy Boy can go fuck himself, I ain't giving those ones back. Our soccer teams all suck already, why can't I have a decent quesadilla?

      1. prommie

        At my favorite mexican food place, they play revolutionary gringo-hating songs all the time on the sound system, thinking we don't know it. I love them for that.

        1. FakaktaSouth

          My least favorite Mexican restaurant is in Texas, there are American streamers and flags and flashing lights all over the place, they have a portrait of George Strait as a Mexican on the wall, salsa in squeeze bottles and no bowls and Mexican versions of Beatles songs on the jukebox and they too think we are all stupid, but they say so plainly – amidst all the patrio-fetishism. Needs more acid.

          1. prommie

            But do they have tongue tacos? Thats the real test. Man, noone in the world is gonna believe that was not at all intended as a filthy double entendre, either, and thats just sad, all the dirty-minded fuckers in this world.

          2. FakaktaSouth

            Nope, only the really cool kids know where to get those – tongue tacos are great with horchata – which is ALSO NOT a dirty double anything. It is really really good.

          3. FakaktaSouth

            It is not to be explained, it is to be experienced. You can't know it til you see it, are afraid of it, then come to love it.

        2. tessiee

          "At my favorite mexican food place, they play revolutionary gringo-hating songs all the time on the sound system"

          Isn't "Guantanamera" actually a revolutionary song?

  11. nounverb911

    "where everyone everywhere should want to come to launch their own moon shot,"
    When is Newt's launch?

    1. freakishlywrong

      I'll gladly invest in that little start up. As long as Callista and her fucking elephant shoot their moons as well.

    2. prommie

      Yes, because as we all know, it wasn't evil socialist government that got us to the moon, it was the imaginary hand of the invisible market entrepeneurs, of course.

    3. anniegetyerfun

      Oh, MOON shot. I read that as "money shot" and had just emailed my parents to see if I could get 20K to start my own porn venture.

  12. BigSkullF*ckingDog

    Sorry. I can't start a "start-up" because my healthcare is tied to the publicly held corporation that I work for.

    1. AbandonHope

      That is such a good point, and really it goes so much further than healthcare. These idiots are always talking about making money by taking risks. Really? How many of them have actually taken risks that could result in them being hungry, sick and/or homeless? Their idea of "risks" is maybe losing an additional $20 or $30k they had saved up.

      Yeah, there were — and perhaps are — a lot of industrialists who have seriously taken real risks in their lives and gotten ahead, but I'd bet $20,000 (from my parents) that there are precious few these days.

      1. tessiee

        Anybody who still has 20 or 30K in the bank is either a) hoping it will last until they get another job or b) guarding it against the day that the company they work for throws them away like a squeezed lemon.

    2. JustPixelz

      Exactly. Health insurance is only affordable or obtainable through employer group plans. Combine that with a high deductible plan and we have disincentives to become an entrepreneur or even change jobs. That good for employer — no pesky ex-employees become or switching to competitors. But bad for the economy.

    3. anniegetyerfun

      See, that's why Obamacare is so awful because if you wanted to start a small business, you would be FORCED* to pay for health insurance for your employees. This is part of the reason why no one starts small businesses anymore.**

      *not forced at all
      **not really

  13. smashedinhat

    Mentioning Tom Friedman in my kitchen makes my vegetables and fruits go brown, cuz of the stupid!

  14. SoBeach

    …2000 people in every town will make startups that produce nothing, employ next to no one, and have no discernable revenue stream.

    Ah, the good old dotcom days. Just like then these new companies will make up for zero revenue with volume. Duh.

    1. tessiee

      Bart Simpson: But I have a million shares of your stock!
      Soul Patch Guy: But it's worth zero.
      Bart Simpson: How much is a million times zero? AND DON'T SAY ZERO!!

  15. BaldarTFlagass

    "Instead, we need 2,000 people in every town each starting something that employs five people."

    Maybe they can sell Amway, or Mary Kay Cosmetics!

      1. AbandonHope

        Sure — dentist's bills and occasional incarceration are just factored in as part of the "cost of doing business".

      1. prommie

        Each other. Its called a service economy. Half of us repair the cash registers at the Pizza huts that the other half of us work at.

        1. tessiee

          Mark Twain posited a world where everybody does everybody else's laundry — although I don't think he was seriously advocating it.

  16. Estproph

    "…to share with us some deepderp thoughts on how we should be fixing the economy."


  17. littlebigdaddy

    In that picture he looks like he is trying to force out a turd the size and shape of a cinder block.

  18. mrblifil

    That's it! I'm starting up a Blow Job stand on my front stoop. I'll be the CEO, CFO, Board Director, Sole Proprietor, Sole Shareholder and Sole Employee. I'm calling my fledgling enterprise "Suck On This." Steep discounts for the first hundred suckers.

    1. sbj1964

      Sounds like a strong growth,hard line industry with explosive opportunity followed by a down turn,and the need for a sandwich.

      1. actor212

        It will bring much relief to a downtrodden sector, however momentary. However, after deflating, there will be a brief period of recovery followed by yet another inflationary period.

  19. cheaphits

    Does he realize how impossible it would be to get 2,000 people to agree on anything – let alone funding, starting and managing a start-up?

    He gets paid for this dribble?

      1. Boojum

        I think he wants 2000 people to each start something that COMBINED employs five people. So, 2000 corporations; five employees.

        How many hours per week is that?

  20. JustPixelz

    This is like when everyone started their own newspaper on the internet but called it a blog. Howz that workin' out for ya Tom?

  21. Wadisay

    OK, it's drivel, but he worked it out on the back of a napkin in the Istanbul airport bar, with a guy he just met from India, who noticed an amazing correlation between sales of launching pads and hog belliy futures.

    1. FakaktaSouth

      So, you got like a website or something? I got a lot of teeth, was once a college girl and am working on the whole single mom thing – lemme tell ya, it blows.

  22. FakaktaSouth

    "If we can make America the best place to dream something, design something, start something, collaborate with others on something and manufacture something…"

    Yeah these things would all be great – however I would just like to start out by making it a place where education, opportunity, and healthcare aren't only for wealthy fucks born with it – ah dream poors, dream all you would like, but don't be looking around in the actual America for these things to happen.

    1. prommie

      I'm just hearing Mickey Rooney saying to Judy Garland "Hey, lets put on a show!" Yeah, that'll work.

      1. FakaktaSouth

        At first I was thinking you said Mickey Rourke and Judy Garland and I was all, hey YEAH! I'd watch THAT! Those two would KILL each other!

        1. prommie

          You know, I was just kidding, but now you have reminded me, there is money to be made in small local theaters; the lively arts are alive and well all across this great nation of ours. We just need to find a chick who can shoot bottle caps out of her hoo-ha and people will flock to see the show!

          1. FakaktaSouth

            No, pick UP quarters off the top of beer bottles and shoot THOSE – bottle caps would be WAY painful and scratchy and messy. But yeah, that's a show to see!

        2. tessiee

          They'd kill each other over the last inch of Jack Daniels in the bottom of the bottle.

  23. Fraudulently_Joe

    Don't something like 60% of start-ups fail within the first year? So, yeah, 2,000 startups employing 5 people each in every town in the countrysounds like a recipe for totally not another, larger, recession 8-12 months from now.

    1. Weenus299

      They either fail or coporate borgs come up and buy them out, integrate all the intellectual property and move on. So in essence Tom Friedman is telling us to find more inventive ways to feed corporate borgs.

    1. va_real

      Because Leo's HATE reading 'blah, blah, blah' when it's supposed to be all about them. And then they read the other signs & they got 'blah, blah, blah' too also. Not even the Pisces like that nonsense…

      1. OneYieldRegular

        Oh god no.

        "To understand contemporary relations between the United States and China one need only look as far as the fortune you are holding in your hands."

    2. jakegittes

      Because the writing of horoscopes has been offshored to the Phillipines. http://tinyurl.com/c9pxq3m

      You see. The world is flat. Now, if only they'd start offshoring the manufacture of bombast (and they will), Mr. Friedman will get a little taste of his own medicine.

    3. tessiee

      They fired him after he kept writing, "Check out my mad mustache, bitchez!!" for all twelve signs.

    1. tessiee

      I was thinking you have to asslick the Cato Institute until they fund every random brain fart you poop out, like P.J. O'Rourke — but yours is good, too.

  24. actor212

    Instead, we need 2,000 people in every town each starting something that employs five people.

    Sounds kinda inefficient to me. Wouldn't it be better to have five people in every town start something that employs 2,000?

  25. pinkocommi

    The subtext is that it is our own damn fault we can't find a job. Thanks for that, Mr. Friedman. And fuck you.

  26. lumpenprole

    This could totally work if venture capitalists fund start-ups the way that banks used to make home loans.

    1. SoBeach

      Yeah, but then we'd end up spending a trillion dollars to bail out the venture capitalists.

  27. elviouslyqueer

    Thank you, Kris. That's 600 words and 2 minutes of my life I will never, ever get back.

  28. pdiddycornchips

    Tom Friedman is the poster boy for what's wrong with this country. He's an accountability -free elite asshole who, in spite of being wrong about everything (Mideast peace, Iraq, the financial crisis), continues get a megaphone to annoy us with. I wish he would just go away. But I wish everyone at the NYTimes would go away. The paper of record has a record of employing assholes.

      1. pdiddycornchips

        I never said EVERYONE they employed was an asshole but let's keep in mind, they hired him when he was advising Enron.

  29. Blueb4sinrise

    Well, the next thread is about Aaron Sorkin, so I'm stuck in a kind of feedback loop of 'Don't give a flying fuck.'

    1. fuflans

      yeah, it's hard to get interested in tv when you've never had cable and stopped watching regular programming in the mid-1990's. we just pick and choose the good stuff.

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        I think the last television program I watched on a regular basis was that Homicide show with Yaphet Kotto.

  30. Chow Yun Flat

    I have a great idea for a start-up. Begin with a popular product to copy, design a knock-off that looks like the product, find a factory in mainland China to produce it cheaply (Foxcomm will do if the employees haven't all committed suicide), import it by the container load to Amerikkka and sell it cheap through Wal-Mart.

    Amazing no one has thought of that before.

  31. fuflans

    instead of fucking start ups we should invest in our crumbling infrastructure (and Internet bandwidth which is shamefully bad compared to many other poorer countries).

    which also means disinvesting from the fucking republican party.

    1. tessiee

      Whatever else you think of Michael Moore, he did come up with a good idea: The infrastructure is falling apart, people need jobs — so have a jobs program where people fix the infrastucture. I might suck at hammering a nail that wasn't my thumbnail, but I'd at least give it a try.

  32. proudgrampa

    As one who has worked for (and owned) a few startups in his lifetime, all I can say is that statistically, most new businesses fail.

    So what Tom proposes is fine, if you want to work like a slave and end up impoverished.

    1. tessiee

      Why, it almost seems like they want everybody to work like a slave and end up impoverished… seems like.

  33. pdiddycornchips

    There is a metaphor for our current predicament. Forest Fires. Not all fires are bad things. They're as much a part of our ecosystem as rain or sunshine. Sometimes, when ground is thick with dried up twigs and brush (useless elite fucktards like Tom Friedman)
    a spark will start a fire. That fire will burn down everything in it's path which would suck for the dried up twigs but once the area has been cleared of all the useless material, new life will quickly spring up and the forest will bloom once again. That's how nature works. Our elites are not very useful. New elites with better ideas and more energy can't emerge because the ground is thick with useless, over-privileged assholes. Once they are removed, our ecosystem can quickly right itself.

    1. FNMA

      Are you saying that useless, over-privileged assholes should be set n fire?
      Because, you know, that would be wrong…

      1. tessiee

        No, no.
        Piddly's saying that useless, over-privileged assholes should be *struck by lightning* and *die in a forest fire*… you know, the sort of thing that happens when you're 50 miles away in the company of several witnesses.
        Heh, heh, heh…

    2. BoatOfVelociraptors

      Not that I am advocating violence, but if occupy types are willing to risk jail time and pepper spray by just sitting there, someone might find it profitable in a non-monetary sense to offend an elite in a personal manner.

  34. SayItWithWookies

    So 2,000 people in every town need to create start-ups that employ five people. Sorry small-town America with fewer than ten thousand unemployed people (which means your population would have to be around 110,000ish) — you're still screwed.

  35. le petit mort

    This reminds me of the time when I was talking about business innovation with the CEO of BRIC, Inc. located in the once lovely rainforests of Curitiba, Brasil, now an empty warehouse of a lot, razed to make the world even flatter for my wife's extensive chain of strip malls. He said to me, "You know Tom, the Universe is disc-shaped." And I said of course! The playing field is being rounded at the edges, so that the poor people can lose their footing and slide off while their richers belch out a hearty chuckle.*

    *In honor of Matt Taibbi's epic Friedman take downs.

  36. chascates

    This country desperately needs some way of certifying or licensing pundits. Fred Barnes once claimed he could speak with authority on anything but he must be a Master Pundit. Does Friedman qualify as that or is he limited to Political/Economic Assistant Pundit?
    Of course there must be higher levels for people such as Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh.

    1. tessiee

      "Of course there must be higher levels for people such as Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh."

      Please, they get winded climbing the three steps to the front porch. Trying to climb to a higher level would make their "hearts" blow out like an old tire.


  37. tessiee

    Wait — I thought the whole reason why we were shoveling tons of money to the corporations and looking the other way while they looted the economy and poisoned the planet was because if we just bent over for them *enough*, they'd create jerbs.

    Now this guy is telling us that the owning class isn't going to do shit, and we're all on our own? Did he not read the script, or is he secretly hoping we'll finally wise up, or what?

  38. barto

    I'm waiting for the day when Tom is relegated to infomercials for cheap Chinese Viagra and banned from all other outlets.

    1. tessiee

      He could be the new Sham Wow guy.
      Here's a puzzler: Would he be better or worse than the current Sham Wow guy?

  39. Weenus299

    You know what America needs? Roads. Lots of roads. If everyone everywhere just worked on a road crew, everyone would have a job, and everyone would make something, and when all the somethings are done, we would have roads to drive on. And also: Runways. there was a time in america, back in the 1860s, when there were no runways. People could build airplanes all they wanted to, but they had no way of getting them up. And duh, no way of getting them down. But we worked together and pooled our resources, so that when it came time for Oliver and Wendell Wright to build their flying kite, we could put that flying kite with an engine preconverted from a to-be-invented lawn mower, on a wooden rail on a windy beach. And it flew. But we never do that anymore. Whoa.

  40. BoatOfVelociraptors

    It's honestly a pet peeve of mine. Why would I "tune in" to a show at a certain time when I can download and sync at any time?

    I mean the entire set of mechanisms for broadcast TV are so obsolete! The time issues for streaming are the most infuriating, as you are reading what your friends on the east coast are saying about a show, and cannot comment in an informed manner without having legally having seen the show.

    Hey studios, you want to know why people pirate? Because we have to wait 3 god-damned hours to see the broadcast show on the west coast!

    Seriously, from a tech perspective it's way easier to do an if(showPublished) than to do a geolookup of the request ip and the logic that entails.

  41. BoatOfVelociraptors

    Also may I make the following comment: "Sweet Jesus and Evil Taciturn do I hate the IntenseDebate algorithm for determining a session". Sweet mumbly puglsies, is it not the oddest engine in town?

  42. Caelan Aegana

    I was going to attempt a similar mixed-metaphor boildown like Jonathan Chait's friend at that there link, but then I realized that it would almost be a straight copy-paste job. What does it say when you can't mock what somebody says because there's nothing better than a straight quote?

    I mean, I can't, this guy. Brain. GAH.

  43. ttommyunger

    Looking at that picture and trying to decide which I would enjoy most: pulling that 'tash and the upper lip attached to it down around his knees or kicking his 'nads up into his skin beard. Soft little blowhards like him need lots of punching.

  44. bobbert

    Tom Friedman deserves ridicule (this is a statement of natural law, like "the speed of light in a vacuum is constant").

    But, to ridicule this particular outbreak of Tom Friedman, I would have to read about it, which I will not do. I'm sure y'all took care of it.

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