Free Markets, Free People

Who’s “optimal” are we talking about here?

Thomas Friedman is at it again. He finds our method of governance just too cumbersome and one which mostly yields “sub-optimal” results. I mean, look at the Chi-coms:

TOM BROKAW: Tom, are we at a kind of turning point in America in terms of being able to make this a functioning country again, or are we dysfunctional?

TOM FRIEDMAN: Well this is what worries me. I’ve been saying for awhile Tom, there’s only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, the Chinese form of government, and that’s one-party democracy. In China, if the leadership can get around to an enlightened decision it can order it from the top down, OK. Here when you have one-party democracy, one party ruling, basically the other party just saying no, every solution is sub-optimal. And when your chief competitor in the world can order optimal and you can only produce sub-optimal? Because what happens, whether it’s health care or the energy bill, votes one-through-fifty cost you a lot. Fifty to fifty-nine cost you a fortune. And vote sixty: his name’s Ben Nelson! And by the time you’ve made all those compromises, you end up with the description David [Brooks] had of the health care bill, which is this Rube Goldberg contraption. I really hope, I hope personally it passes. I hope it works. But I can’t tell you I think it’s optimal.

Well, of course mandating one child and one child only was certainly considered to be “optimal” by the leadership. The polity didn’t agree. And now the mostly male generation which has since grown up and is experiencing a vast shortage of women doesn’t either. Damn law of unintended consequences – it always tends to screw up “optimal” top-down decisions, doesn’t it?

And as I recall, they certainly considered the “Great Leap Forward” to be “optimal”, didn’t they? What are a few million, er 14 to 20 million deaths, when the “top down” solution is so, uh, “optimal”. Indeed, with those 14 to 20 million deaths, the plan ended up working rather well – except for those cases of cannibalism – because there was more for those who were left.

Very “optimal”.

And the “Cultural Revolution” was pretty “optimal” as well, wasn’t it?

It was certainly “optimal” for Stalin to declare the Kulaks “enemy of the people” wasn’t it? It allowed him to essentially steal their farms and “collectivize” them while deliberately starving millions of those “enemies” of his “optimal” plan to death in 1933. Yup, very “optimal” if you’re Joe Stalin and you get to make those “top down” decisions, isn’t it?

I assume Hugo Chavez thought it was an “optimal” solution to nationalize the oil industry Venezuela. None of that sloppy law and democracy stuff for him, by George.  And that’s worked out so well, hasn’t it?


Would someone buy Mr. Friedman a one-way ticket to China please?  There he can forever bask in the goodness of top-down “optimal” decisions and glory in them like so many millions have already done there since the imposition of “optimal” top-down decisions. 

That would be an “optimal” result for me.



12 Responses to Who’s “optimal” are we talking about here?

  • I don’t think Freidman is so much in love with the Chinese as he is in love with ‘if only the rubes would listen to me!’

    Direct  all his opinions, writings, analysis through this prism.

  • Once again: if you scratch a liberal deeply enough, you find a totalitarian.

    In Friedman’s case, you don’t even have to scratch.

    We’ve seen this sort of rhetoric from the chattering class before: back in the ’30s when some in the Western intelligentsia (hah!) though that the evidence was clear that totalitarian governments such as nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were preferable to our own failing democracies because they were “efficient”.  I suspect that, if the date was 1940 and not 2010, Friedman would be singing the praises of those efficient governments in Berlin and Rome.

    God, this makes me so sick.  What sort of mental disease does Friedman have that leads him to hold opinions like this???  I admit to holding many of my fellow Americans in contempt (i.e. the morons who vote democrat), but it would never occur to me to replace our democracy with… well… ANYTHING else, least of all a communist dictatorship.


  • Tell Friedman what. I fully support him getting his wish…….once the GOP is in power.

    Surely he’d support that, right?  I mean, it would be 1 party making “optimal” decisions.

  • I think he prefers One party democracy to one-party democracy.

  • Good, I now know for an absolute certainty I can disregard anything the guy says, from the color of the morning sky to his opinions on what we ought to do to fix anything.  He’s lost his right to be considered as a viable useful opinion of the functioning of the Republic.
    ” a functioning country again”  -hey Tom I’m going to say something I don’t normally say to people –  Get fornicated.
    What a tool – I wonder if he thought the country was totally beyond salvage in 1968.  Sorry we’re a functioning Republic and we don’t always do what YOU want us to do.

  • The elephant in the room is that until Massachusetts sent Scott Brown to Washington, DC, this country also had a one-party democracy for the better part of a year, as the Democrats had super-majorities in both houses of Congress and controlled the White House.
    I don’t care if Tom Friedman has three Pulitzers, he still can’t find his ass with two hands.
    Tom does for Pulitzers, what Obama and Al Gore do for the Nobel Peace Prize, demean it.

  • “if the leadership can get around to an enlightened decision” – If we only had the right people in charge…at some point you’d think Tom would figure that out.
    BTW, I would make a point about China…
    I think most of the “speed” of which Freidman lauds is a matter of a lack of bureaucracy regarding the environment, worker’s rights, etc. How long do they spend on environmental impact reports? Do they spend 9 months after a stimulus bill passes canvassing the regions of China to determine the wages to be paid to workers installing weatherizing materials? NO. You will notice that both of these issues are pet issues of the left more than the right.
    So, if we serious about wanting some of China’s advantages without abandoning democracy, there are ways to do that. But I don’t think he would like those.

  • To these two idiots, rejection of a huge unworkable health scare scheme = ungovernable.
    I wish they would just immigrate to China already, then they can write loving things about the Chinese government to their heart’s content.

  • “In China, if the leadership can get around to an enlightened decision it can order it from the top down”
    This is one of those “if Grandpa had wheels he would be a truck” logical fallacies.  The inner party members running the Politburo got there by being ambitious, narcissistic, power hungry and venal, just like the top leaders of any other polity.  There is not a snowflake’s chance in H-E-double-hockey-stick that such individuals are ever going to turn around and act “enlightened”.  Far more likely, their decisions will be engineered to benefit enough outer party members to shore up the status quo.  The only “optimal” advantage I can see is that in China there is a very limited number of outer party members needing Protektzia unlike in the US which requires buying off entire voter demographics.