Ed Driscoll

Thomas Friedman Goes Luddite

To modify the headline on Thomas Friedman’s latest article,  how did a Luddite end-up with a Times column? Presumably, in this case, it’s to deflect attention away from Obama’s failed economic policies:

Here is a typical evening at a major cable TV network: arrive at Washington studio and be asked to sign in by a contract security guard. Be met by either a young employee who appears to still be in college or an older person who seems to have hung on with tenure. Have your nose powdered by that person. Have your microphone attached by that person. Be positioned in the studio chair by that person, and then look directly into a robotic camera being manipulated by someone in a control room in New York and speak to whoever the host is wherever he or she is. That’s it: one employee, a robot and you.

Think of how many jobs — makeup artist, receptionist, camera person, producer-director — have been collapsed into one.

Here is a typical evening in a suburban household: arrive home and park the car in the garage. Eat dinner, and then catch up on world events. Read the news from your favorite blogger via a Web browser on a PC or iPad. Think of how many jobs — paperboy, printers, deliverymen, TV anchorman, makeup artist, receptionist, camera person, producer-director, robot camera builder, preening New York Times columist — have been collapsed into one. Not to mention the men who once cleaned the manure out of the streets and shod horses, because everyone in your neighborhood drove a car instead of riding a horse and buggy home.

Incidentally, is Friedman cribbing column ideas from watching Chris Matthews these days? That might be his first mistake, right there.

But in any case, what’s the problem? John Kerry, Claire McCaskill, and others who pay lip service to radical environmentalists have argued that Obama-recession has been a positive one because lack of industrial production helps reduce Goreball Worming. The L.A. Times has argued that it’s not unemployment anyhow — it’s funemployment! The Gray Lady recently joined them by finding yet another benefit hidden in the disastrous last three years: “The recession was bad for everyone, but women experienced at least one silver lining: Their median earnings edged a bit closer to men’s:”

Median earnings for men, adjusted for inflation, fell by $2,433 — or 6 percent — from 2007 to 2010, according to the analysis, by the American Human Development Project, a social research organization. Women’s earnings, meanwhile, fell by just $253 in the same period, a drop of 0.9 percent.

For men, it was another sad chapter in the painful tale of the recession, which officially ended in June 2009 and battered them more ferociously than it did women. For women, whose economic fortunes have been on a slow but steady rise relative to men’s since the 1970s, it was a small, if unsatisfying, victory.

“The recession was devastating for men,” said Kristen Lewis, co-director of the project, which is part of the New York-based Social Science Research Council. Women, on the other hand, “have come through it with no significant change in their buying power,” she said.

And anything that’s bad for American men is always good news from Pinch’s perspective:

Not long ago, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the 41-year old publisher of the New York Times, was greeting people at a party in the Metropolitan Museum when a dignified older man confronted him. He told Sulzberger that he was unhappy about the jazzy, irreverent new “Styles of the Times” Sunday section. “It’s very”—the man—paused—“un-Times-ian”

“Thank you,” Sulzberger replied. He later told a crowd of people that alienating older white male readers means “we’re doing something right.”

To keep the brand-name consistent, as we’ve just seen above, that same worldview carries through to unemployment statistics.