Wow, Thomas Friedman is A Total Joke

I missed this editorial from back in April, but it is a classic.  If you want one of the greatest illustrations of the phrase "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail", here is is.

UNTIL we fully understand what turned two brothers who allegedly perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombings into murderers, it is hard to make any policy recommendation other than this: We need to redouble our efforts to make America stronger and healthier so it remains a vibrant counterexample to whatever bigoted ideology may have gripped these young men. With all our warts, we have built a unique society — a country where a black man, whose middle name is Hussein, whose grandfather was a Muslim, can run for president and first defeat a woman in his own party and then four years later a Mormon from the opposition, and no one thinks twice about it. With so many societies around the world being torn apart, especially in the Middle East, it is vital that America survives and flourishes as a beacon of pluralism....

So what to do?  We need a more “radical center” — one much more willing to suggest radically new ideas to raise revenues, not the “split-the-difference-between-the-same-old-options center.” And the best place to start is with a carbon tax.


  1. treeher:

    "...and no one thinks twice about it." Really? I have agonized daily over it.

  2. Another_Brian:

    He talks of "radically new ideas" that don't "split-the-difference-between-the-same-old-options" and his example is a carbon tax. I love ironic humor, and the punchline at the end of the second paragraph is the funniest thing I've read today. I'm still struggling to figure out how he got to there from discussing the bombing of the Boston Marathon. It's like a puzzle.

  3. panzersage:

    I love the picture for his piece. " a source of pollution in the town." That's a nuclear plant with Steam coming out of it. Steam as in water vapor not smoke. Unless water is now a pollutant.

    At least they didn't try to photoshop it.

  4. Crow:

    I don't think that's a nuclear plant in the picture, panzersage.,-80.414279&spn=0.014265,0.01929&t=h&z=16

    I believe the picture was taken from Shippingport Ballfield. If you zoom in and also look from street view, the angle, parking lot, and playground match perfectly. There is a large black area that looks like a coal pile to the northeast of the plant, and what look like coal barges next to it on the river.

    The Beaver Valley Nuclear Generating Station is just to the southwest though.

    I have never been to the area, I just looked it up to see if the NYT would really make such a mistake. It doesn't seem they did.

  5. panzersage:

    Ack my bad, I was thinking of the old nuclear plant which they decommissioned in the late 80's. The towers threw me without looking in enough detail. Mea Culpa.
    However First Energy did spend $1.8 billion back in 2010 putting in massive scrubbers meaning that the smoke coming out is almost entirely CO2, H2O, and almost nothing else. (There is much less particulate than before). You know real technology with actual effects on pollutants, not credits for something that would have no effect on the actual air quality.

  6. MingoV:

    Homeland Security and every agency associated with it completely dropped the ball. ICE let the family in due to claims of persecution. No one noticed that family members flew back to Kyrgyzstan multiple times.

    The older brother was running with the terrorist crowd and spent around six months learning how to kill us. None of our "we must spy on and grope everyone" agencies noticed this.

    To keep us from disaster, both the Russian and Saudi Arabian governments sent letters about the Tsarnaev's ties with terrorists. These letters were ignored.

    Making America stronger and happier is not the solution. Eliminating morons from our federal agencies is much more likely to help.

  7. Incunabulum:

    No, its the Beaver Valley Nuclear Generating Stations. I have never seen those sort of hyperboloid cooling towers anywhere except on nuke plants.

  8. Incunabulum:

    Actually, that's the Shippingport Nuke plant - decommissioned and Beaver Valley built right next door. I can't find anything about a conventional power plant being placed on site.

  9. Crow:

    Are you talking about W. H. Sammis Power Plant?

    The plant pictured in the opinion piece as a source of pollution is called Bruce Mansfield Power Station.

    I would prefer to have more recent data but the EPA website is difficult to navigate. I did not find information about a similar retrofit at Bruce Mansfield Power Station so I assume the emissions have remained about the same.

    I certainly agree that cleaner technology makes coal emissions liveable, and are a much more important target for a clean environment than carbon dioxide emissions.

    As for Friedman, aside from the silly attempt to link his pet cause to something totally unrelated, I think he overestimates the net revenue collected. He claims that a carbon tax would raise a trillion dollars. Whatever it raised, much of that revenue would be cannibalized from other revenue. If you increase the cost of economic activity as a carbon tax would do, then there will be less of it than there would have been otherwise, and you'll also collect less revenue related to economic activity (income taxes, gasoline taxes, corporate taxes).

    If reducing carbon emissions is the goal, then a carbon tax is an efficient way to do so, because it is neutral and allows the market to shift resources around to minimize the costs. I'm not convinced that carbon emissions are a problem whose costs are greater than reducing the economic activity of the country would be, but either way, reducing economic activity is a poor way of raising overall tax revenue. It would be Bastiat's the "seen versus the unseen" acting in the realm of government taxes.

  10. Crow:

    It's Bruce Mansfield Power Station. The Beaver Valley Nuclear Generating Station is a short distance to the southwest. You can see the parking lot, bench, and playground in the picture from this street view image: (Google map link shortened to avoid obnoxious embedding)

  11. Crow:

    Okay, obnoxious embedding appears unavoidable, but if you go to the link it will automatically take you to street view and zoom in the direction of the playground where the article picture was taken.

  12. Sam L.:

    I am surprised that Tommy "Chinese" Friedman went for the carbon tax, as the Chinese don't have one.

  13. bannedforselfcensorship:

    I think some coal plants have cooling towers that also emit steam.

    There was a controversy where a UK paper added black to the white steam to make it look like pollution.

  14. bannedforselfcensorship:

    Any carbon tax would need to be assessed on imports and deducted from exports, like a VAT.

    Otherwise you incentivize moving lots of production to other countries and do not reduce carbon emissions.

  15. obloodyhell:

    }}} And the best place to start is with a carbon tax.


    I think it's rather clear -- "The best place to start is by dressing Norwegian Reindeer in bunny costumes."

    Makes just as much freaking sense as HIS ridiculous suggestion.

  16. obloodyhell:

    Yes, but excluding Democrats from positions above "dog catcher" does tend to raise a lot of ire.

  17. obloodyhell:

    }}} almost entirely CO2, H2O, and almost nothing else.

    Not to argue in favor of the imbeciles, especially uber-imbeciles like Friedman, but They ARE classing CO2 as a pollutant (in actual fact, water is also a "GHG", so it's included TOO) -- so scrubbers "don't" solve their artificially defined pollution problem.

    So your argument, while both accurate and eminently sensible, does not address their issue. And they like it that way.

  18. MNHawk:

    Google Image search Bruce Mansfield, and yep, that's it.

    Not that it detracts from a scary picture of steam, for benefit of the low information consumers of a low information New York Times. Nor from the abject stupidity of NYT readers, as depicted in the comments section, raging about Big Oil and the like.

  19. teapartydoc:

    Non sequiturs for all!

  20. Ryan Healy:

    Wow. From the Boston bombing to a carbon tax in two paragraphs.