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A few posts back, I posted about economists. [View All]

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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-15-13 04:33 AM
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A few posts back, I posted about economists.
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As you may have noticed, Friedman has written on a number of subjects, but has been focusing of late on the subject of economics.

I think that, on average, economists have been about as useful, and correct just about as often, as that hypothetic group of monkeys typing indefinitely, from which we are told a Shakepearean play would eventually emerge. I have no idea why we are told that, particularly since, AFAIK, no one has ever proved it, but we are told that. I hope that you use the info only for good (as if anyone could use that info for anything at all).

And, of course, like everything else in insane America, economists are sharply divided along political lines. How is economics anything but a magickal art, not a science, if your personal political biases govern?

Yet, the society seems to revere economists, especially in recent years (perhaps why Tom Friedman has zeroed in on that subject in recent years).

This morning, I wikied Tom Friedman.

(Because I have never seen wiki used as a verb. I am going to take credit for just having made "wiki" into a verb. As John Hodgman of the Daily Show might say under similar circumstances, you're welcome.)

Friedman's wiki contains a few interesting nuggets. I will begin with something I think helps support my point about economists. Well, maybe it doesn't directly support my point about economists, but it sure doesn't disprove my point, either:

Friedman's wife, Ann, is a graduate of Stanford University and the London School of Economics.<7> They were married in London on Thanksgiving Day 1978. Her father, Matthew Bucksbaum, was the chairman of the board of General Growth Properties, a real estate development group.<8> As of 2007, Forbes estimated the Bucksbaum family's assets at $4.1 billion, including about 18.6 million square meters of mall space, but the firm's value later plummeted.<9><10> The family's trust declined in value from $3.6 billion to $25 million.<11> On April 16, 2009, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after failing to reach a deal with its creditors.<12> The GGP collapse marked the largest real estate bankruptcy in U.S. history.<13>

Presumably, both Friedman, who has been getting paid of late to share with us his expertise about economics, and his wife, a graduate of Sanford and the London School of Economics, both did their very best to advise and assist Mr. Bucksbaum. Yet, the family's trust declined in value from $3.6 billion, with a b, to $25 million, with an m. (I am being specific so it's clear that I am not making one of my many typos.)

I rest my case.

Anything after that is anti-climatic, but I will plod on with Friedman's wiki, nonetheless. But, first, a word from our sponsor, Merriam Webster, like wiki, kind enough to make all kinds of knowledge available to us online for free (so far):

noun (Concise Encyclopedia)

Israeli communal settlement in which all wealth is held in common and profits are reinvested in the settlement. The first kibbutz was founded in Palestine in 1909; most have since been agricultural. Adults live in private quarters; children are generally housed and cared for as a group. Meals are prepared and eaten communally. Members have regular meetings to discuss business and to take votes on matters requiring decisions. Jobs may be assigned by rotation, by choice, or by skill. The kibbutz movement declined dramatically in the late 20th century. But kibbutzim continued to play in important role in the tourism industry in Israel, attracting students and other short-term residents, mostly Jews from overseas seeking a link with the past.

Ok. A kibbutz seems to be about Palestinian communist farming, but serving these days a function similar to that of Colonial Williamsburg, Israeli style.

Is it just me, or is it ironic that Jews from around the world traveling to Israel for a link with their Jewish past stay at a re-creation of something Palestinians began in 1909? Sounds to me like a topic that Linda Richman might suggest for discussion on Cawfee Talk. Anyhooo.... back to Friedman.

Friedman is Jewish.<2> He attended Hebrew school five days a week until his Bar Mitzvah,<3> then St. Louis Park High School where he wrote articles for his school's newspaper.<4> He became enamored of Israel after a visit there in December 1968, and he spent all three of his high school summers living on Kibbutz Hahotrim, near Haifa.<5> He has characterized his high school years as "one big celebration of Israel's victory in the Six-Day War."<5>

Four years of celebration of the triumph of Israelis over Arabs, spurred by living on a Palestinian style commune. And then he grew up to write about economics from the right, while his billionaire father in law was going bankrupt. All righty then.

Friedman covered Secretary of State James Baker during the administration of United States President George H. W. Bush. Following the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, he became the White House correspondent for the Times. In 1994, he began to write more about foreign policy and economics, and moved to the op-ed page of The New York Times the following year as a foreign affairs columnist. In 2002, Friedman won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary "for his clarity of vision, based on extensive reporting, in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat."<19><20>

In February 2002, Friedman met Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and personally encouraged him to make his comprehensive attempt to end the Arab-Israeli conflict by normalizing Arab relations with Israel in exchange for the return of refugees alongside an end to the Israel territorial occupations. Abdullah proposed the Arab Peace Initiative at the Beirut Summit that March, which Friedman has strongly supported since.<21>

Friedman is the recipient of the 2004 Overseas Press Club Award for lifetime achievement, and has been named to the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.<22><23><24><25><26>

In May 2011, it was reported in The New York Times that President Obama "has sounded out" Friedman concerning Middle East issues.<27>

Well that Middle East peace thingy hasn't worked out so far. Not since the 1940s, anyway, but what the hell? Give it another few decades and all the people making a bundle on it might push peace, instead of the *snort* "peace process.*

I used to say that the "war on terror" was a stupid misnomer as "terror" is an emotion. But, I was wrong. By intilling fear all over the world, people have sure have been making a bundle. And unlike wars that go on for as much as a century, the WOT will never, never end. So, kudos to the likes of Friedman and Cheney, who make sure we fear terrorist attacks tons more than we fear bathroom incidents, like drowning in the bathtub or surviving that, only to die falling on our way of the tub.

Recently, Friedman wrote about how the President has proposed "sweeping reforms" of mass surveillance. /

How very cosy! Being consulted by a President of the opposite party gives Friedman additonal cred and Friedman then pretends that Obama's modest proposals (no connection whatever to Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal) are *snort* "sweeping."

One hand washes the other, much like Lady Macbeth's left and right, but, also much like hers left and right, the blood never comes off either hand.

In all, I think Friedman, as wiki describes him, is a great illustration of what I posted way back on August 11, 2013. In essence, my point was that the job of the economist is to tell us that "whatever is, is right."

"Oh, my prophetic soul!"

Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5

(Maybe those monkeys will do it, after all.)

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