American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation

Tom Friedman math:
debt + inexperience = success!

Posted by Lord Halifax | 4 Comments

Thomas Friedman, the most “important columnist in America,” reminded New York Times readers on Wednesday that all is possible if you just pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Friedman’s latest footnote in America’s ongoing Horatio Alger narrative prescribes a new round of government tax cuts to help college graduates start their own businesses.

By Friedman’s twisted logic, the current dust bowl that passes for a job market offers few promising leads for graduates,iphone 5/5s/5c refurbished so why not encourage students to make their own career opportunities? After all, small businesses are the traditional engines of job growth. If you combine this fact with the republican mantra that insists tax cuts are like Miracle-Grow for labor markets we have another Freedman breakthrough that smashes two unrelated ideas into an incoherent argument. He truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

The main thrust of his latest column is that graduates are inherently smart but big companies aren’t hiring. Friedman, who has never run any kind of business or managed anyone, now wants to turn the worst economy since the Great Depression into entrepreneurial lemonade. After talking to a few sources in a venture capital sector that is furiously trying to extricate itself from scores of failed start-up businesses, Friedman now advocates a partnership between the government and debt-ridden graduates.

His latest vision involves nearly automatic visas for foreign-born students who start small businesses, and a new government small business czar who oversee a variety of new lending initiatives. Uncovering the next generation of Google and Facebook founders is only a matter of marshaling resources.

You have to love Friedman’s endless series of suggestions to save the economy. All of these pearls of wisdom start with tiny kernels of real insight and quickly go off the rails. Friedman’s ego won’t let him be penned in by simple logic or reasoning. This thinking lets him cobble together any sequence of random observations into utterly incoherent arguments. In Friedman’s brain, smart students and small businesses are like the chocolate in a Reese’s peanut butter cup. Put them together and you have something really great.

All of this discounts the unassailable facts that many students have zero meaningful work experience and tons of personal debt, which are the absolute worst combination of traits for signing promissory notes. Also consider the fact that many successful entrepreneurs are college dropouts – think Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Steve Jobs. Can we expect another Friedman rant encouraging students to drop out of school and load up on government small business loans? The mustached menace strikes again.


4 Responses to “Tom Friedman math:
debt + inexperience = success!”

  1. Joel Friedlander
    June 10th, 2010 @

    “Friedman now advocates a partnership between the government and debt-ridden graduates.” There already is a partnership. The student graduates; their loans become due; they can’t pay them; the government begins calling them and demanding payment or they’ll put the loan into collection. Its no wonder that the courts are brimming to overflowing with consumer credit transactions.

    Incidentally, has anyone out there heard of a move on the part of the government to forbear collecting these loans until the end of the recession. If they don’t we will soon be looking at a lost generation.

    Nice points made in your piece.

  2. Matt Friedlander
    June 10th, 2010 @
  3. Eric
    June 11th, 2010 @

    It is just another example of the deleveraging going on in a system that lived on credit for far to long. Why would a student attend a college they can’t afford, if there are more affordable options available? State schools and community colleges provide higher education at a much lower cost. Parents and their children need to have more honest conversations about the cost of higher education before they incur massive student loan debts.

  4. Joel Friedlander
    June 11th, 2010 @

    Eric, some students incur the debts I was talking about by just attending a college in their state system. In NY for example the cost of a year at regular college with room and board comes to at least $13,000 for the year. That may not seem like a lot for a middle class student but it is a fortune for someone from the lower middle or lower class. These are the same people who claim that they would have to drop out of high school if the city stops supplying free subway coupons.

    Is someone is going to earn $25-40,000 per year after college a loan of $50,000 for four years of a regular New York State College is significant.

    Their choice is actually not to go to college at all or to put themselves in serious debt. Of course if you go to a professional school later on the situation is exacerbated.

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