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Over the weekend, Digby went up with this post refuting another one of Tom Friedman's inane columns about telling grandma she has to suck it in because, austerity.  She links to Brad DeLong's clever take down of Friedman's Sunday column pleading for the great wise men to come together and form that long elusive Grand Bargain.  Friedman's latest display of classic Beltway groupthink:

After the whipping the G.O.P. took in the election, I believe there is now a group of Republican politicians and C.E.O.’s who would meet Obama in the middle, if the president showed he was ready to take on some of his base as well. If the president tries, and I am wrong, well, he’ll have a few bad weeks. If I am right and enough Republicans meet Obama on a Grand Bargain, it would both split the G.O.P. between the sane conservatives and the certifiable crazies and give the president a real foundation for a truly significant second term.
Apparently Tom has been asleep for the three months since the election dreaming about the Republican unicorn that's about to knock on the White House door to make nice. He's obviously seen something I haven't:  a "group of Republican politicians and CEO's" prepared to meet Obama at the middle.  The middle being where the catfood is flavored to taste like sushi grade tuna, not just the Chicken of the Sea kind.  Name one of those guys, Tom.  Lindsay Graham, perhaps?

DeLong's deconstruction is classic DeLong -- witty, smart and devastating.  Please read it.  In the end, he asks his readers each to hand his graphs to a cabdriver, so Tom will be sure to get them. Cab drivers, of course, being Friedman's favorite source of column fodder.  But that's not the point of this diary.  The point of this diary is to call out Digby for being so mean.  Please, keep reading.

She headlines her post "Another Billionaire Calls for Human Sacrifice."  At the close, she reminds us that Tom made his money the old fashioned way -- he married into the Bucksbaum family, the owners of General Growth Properties, once the largest shopping center owners in America.  I say "once" because GGP flamed out spectacularly in a huge bankruptcy at the start of the financial crisis.  HuffPo identified Tom as one of the biggest casualties of the financial crisis:

But like others on this list, Friedman saw his family's net worth slide from billions to mere millions during the housing crisis, when GGP's revenues took a nosedive. The Friedman family trust went from $3.6 billion to less than $25 million.

Wow.  They lost something like 99% of their wealth.  Now I can see how well he understands the struggles America's middle class will be facing.  He can credibly argue that the sacrifice should be shared.  Off to Sam's Club to stock up!  Perhaps this gives us a new perspective on the unselfish nature of Tom's call for austerity.  No doubt he's practicing what he preaches.  Betcha he has to fly in mere first class every once in a while these days.  I just wish Digby could show some empathy for the underprivileged.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not "underprivileged"-- (4+ / 0-)

    newly deprived. That'll teach 'em and get 'em to understand that the deprivators really are equal opportunity mean guys.

    I'd be more sympathetic were it not for the fact that before the crash, all real estate got to be grossly overvalued. The reason it can be argued that $40 Trillion disappeared is because those values weren't real to begin with.
    Why the inflation of real estate prices doesn't count as real inflation is beyond my comprehension. In my neck of the woods, people paid close to a million dollars for houses that cost $150,000 to build. Now those same houses are more realistically priced in the $400,000 range and that's to people who still have more money than they know what to do with. Some of them seem to be buying houses because they're tangible and aren't likely to disappear entirely, unless there's a hurricane.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:41:24 AM PST

  •  Interesting piece, but please fix that... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deanarms, avsp, Youffraita

    ...spelling of Friedman's name. That flipping of the letters in the dipthong are jarring to some of us.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:59:26 AM PST

  •  Nothing like a good takedown of "next 6 months" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deanarms, avsp

    guy to give me an afternoon boost.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:21:12 AM PST

  •  well this explains a lot. We live in Friedman's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deanarms, avsp, Youffraita

    general area, and I noticed that they lived, shall we say "very well." I wondered if his books generated that kind of money -- didn't seem likely.
    It's interesting how people who don't do really taxing work for a living and have plenty of money are happy to sacrifice the meager incomes of people who have spent their lives doing hard physical work for a pittance.
    It's not just limited to multimillionaire types like Friedman -- just regular upper-middle-class white collar people who kept their jobs during the recession often say blithely that raising the Social Security retirement age wouldn't be a big hardship. For them, that's absolutely true. For example, my DH is beyond full retirement age and still happily working full time because he's got a job he finds fascinating and the hardest thing physically about it is getting up to make himself a cup of tea. But to DH's credit, he is solidly against raising the retirement age for Social Security & Medicare because he's well aware that he has it good and most people don't.

    While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

    by Tamar on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:43:09 AM PST

  •  I know; we need a legacy tax whereby (3+ / 0-)

    income derived from legacies are taxed at a higher tax than income from work or investment.  Even better would be that the tax would be increased each time the legacy baby decided he was a pundit and cranked out a column opining on Turkish airports or Miami cab drivers

  •  I pray for many things (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deanarms

    But perhaps tops on the list is that I never have to go through what must be the gut-churning, Lovecraftian horror of being Tom Friedman. All that wisdom, bursting to get out, and all those clods, swine really, too thick to appreciate his pearls.

  •  Yes, don't pick on him (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deanarms

    I'm sure he's underwater on his house in Bethesda, which, IIRC, is mostly inside the Beltway.  I guess he can't drive around in a Bentley any more; he'll have to make do with a Mercedes S just like the rest of the lesser wealthy.

    So his source of news is the Washington Post, whose editors used to return his calls until his net worth caved.  (This tells me his wife's company was leveraged out the wazoo and not prudently managed.  But Friedman had lunch with a banker guy from India who said that it was too much regulation from entitlements-crazed liberals, so there's no way it could be the fault of GGP's management.)

    What's striking about Friedman is that he depends entirely on anecdote to support his assertions, a common disease of both conservatives and Very Serious People.  He also regards process ("Grand Bargain!" "Compromise!" "Centrists!") as more important than results and believes that economic outcomes are the result of someone's moral worth (lazy Americans versus entrepreneurial Asians and Chinese).  Even Michael Bloomberg (Friedman's ideal centrist) doesn't want anything to do with him.  Ever wonder who that 10% of liberals who voted for Bush, McCain, and Romney really are?  Well, Friedman considers himself a liberal.  'nuff said.

  •  Ole Tom needs to comb the turds outta his "stache" (0+ / 0-)

    Given where his head has been all these years.  Props to Digby & the diarist.

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