Sunday, June 28, 2009

The ideas man

Kevin Carey on Thomas Friedman's latest:
In a canny act of preemptive self-parody, Tom Friedman begins today's column as follows:

"I was at a conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, a few weeks ago and interviewed Craig Barrett, the former chairman of Intel, about how America should get out of its current economic crisis. His first proposal was this: Any American kid who wants to get a driver’s license has to finish high school. No diploma — no license. Hey, why would we want to put a kid who can barely add, read or write behind the wheel of a car?"

One can imagine Friedman's thoughts as he filed this beauty: "Suck on that, Matt Taibbi!" Friedman may not have invented the place-drop / name-drop / facile idea three-step, but he's certainly perfected it.

Internet space is free yet I'm still resentful of the resources about to be wasted pointing out how ridiculous this is. But okay: Many high school drop-outs live in cities where you don't need a car to get around. As for those who don't--let's say you drop out of high school because your high school is terrible or you get pregnant or there's a family emergency or you're 16 and prone to foolish choices. A couple of years go by and you realize you need that diploma. How do you go back to school if you can't drive a car to get there? Or get to your job and feed your family in the meantime? Friedman and Venter seem not to realize that a sizeable majority American teens don't attend Rydell High School. "Don't drop out, Kenickie--you won't be able to take your hot rod to the drive-in!" Plus, you don't actually need a high school education to be a good driver--for pity's sake, Dale Earnhardt was a drop-out...
The apparent lack of any quality filter in Friedman's brain remains astonishing.

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