Thomas Friedman: Green the Bailout

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yes, this bailout is necessary. This is a credit crisis, and credit crises involve a breakdown in confidence that leads to no one lending to anyone. You don’t fool around with a credit crisis. You have to overwhelm it with capital. Unfortunately, some people who don’t deserve it will be rescued. But, more importantly, those who had nothing to do with it will be spared devastation. You have to save the system.

But that is not the point of this column. The point is, we don’t just need a bailout. We need a buildup. We need to get back to making stuff, based on real engineering not just financial engineering. We need to get back to a world where people are able to realize the American Dream — a house with a yard — because they have built something with their hands, not because they got a “liar loan” from an underregulated bank with no money down and nothing to pay for two years. The American Dream is an aspiration, not an entitlement.

When I need reminding of the real foundations of the American Dream, I talk to my Indian-American immigrant friends who have come here to start new companies — friends like K.R. Sridhar, the founder of Bloom Energy. He e-mailed me a pep talk in the midst of this financial crisis — a note about the difference between surviving and thriving.

“Infants and the elderly who are disabled obsess about survival,” said Sridhar. “As a nation, if we just focus on survival, the demise of our leadership is imminent. We are thrivers. Thrivers are constantly looking for new opportunities to seize and lead and be No. 1.” That is what America is about.

Read the whole thing.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageEnergy, Natural Resources

Posted September 28, 2008 at 3:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Jeffersonian wrote:

I’m reminded of a story I read by an Indian marxist who had come to America when his wife got a faculty position at an east coast university.  The fellow naturally loathed America (anti-Americanism being the thread that unites Leftists the world over), but something happened one day, early on, that started him on a remarkable journey to an appreciation of our country. 

He was sitting on a bench at the university where his wife worked when a Dean pulled into a nearby parking spot, popped open his trunk, took out a box of papers and carried them into the building.  The man was flabbergasted; his father had been an academic back in India and would never have humbled himself so…he would have had sent a coolee to fetch the box.  The fellow came to the realization, after more observation, that labor in America is different from labor elsewhere.  In America, physical labor is valued and respected.

That was at least a decade ago that I read that story, and I’m worried that this ethic has been changing, and not for the better.  I’m not sure where or when it began to erode, but I don’t think that’s not the case anymore…people who do manual labor, who “do the jobs that make civilized life possible” (in Mike “Dirty Jobs” Rowe’s words), are sneered at and discounted as benighted dead-enders clinging to their Bibles and guns simply because they don’t know any better. 

Being a good man/woman, living a life of dignity, working hard and raising your kids in a moral atmostphere…those aren’t the values touted by today’s culture.  And when you hold those ideas in contempt, well, why not send your factory to China?

September 28, 4:44 pm | [comment link]
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