As Tom Friedman Notes, We’re Missing Our Train

Thomas Friedman, whom I sometimes find grating*, is spot-on today in underlining America’s paralysis in responding to tomorrow’s challenges.

China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports; another is building a web of high-speed trains connecting major cities; a third is in bioscience, where the Beijing Genomics Institute this year ordered 128 DNA sequencers — from America — giving China the largest number in the world in one institute to launch its own stem cell/genetic engineering industry; and, finally, Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities. In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.


We need to be in a race with China, not just Al Qaeda. Let’s start with electric cars.

He follows with a painful assessment.

Meanwhile, the US can’t even get its absurdly modest ($7.5B) high-speed rail program on track.

But …

Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

So there you go.


*Why do I find Friedman grating?

  1. He tends to tie everything back to his pet metaphors; I call it his flat earth policy.
  2. He’s too fond of the one-liner. (Though not as enslaved to it as Maureen Dowd. I recognize I just applauded one of his one-liners.)
  3. Possibly I still haven’t forgiven him for cheerleading the war and refusing to just say I blew it. Okay: Definitely I haven’t forgiven him.

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