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Tom Friedman’s bizarre fantasy: Here’s who he needs to meet

“If you are self-motivated, wow, this world is tailored for you. The boundaries are all gone ... There will be fewer limits, but also fewer guarantees. Your specific contribution will define your specific benefits much more. Just showing up will not cut it.”

Regular New York Times readers may recognize this passage, with its gee-whiz enthusiasm for unbridled “individual aspiration and persistence,” as the product of flat-world enthusiast Thomas Friedman. This particular column, from April, starts with Friedman’s admonition that, “we now live in a 401(k) world ... where everyone needs to pass the bar exam and no one can escape the most e-mailed list.”

It’s easy (and fun!) to mock Friedman for his bizarre mixed metaphors, his apparent reliance on the taxi drivers of the world for insights into foreign relations and, yes, his silly, silly mustache. But his vision of the U.S. economy is authentically frightening because at bottom it reflects conventional wisdom that’s accepted uncritically by many of the nation’s agenda-setting pundits and politicians.

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