Thomas Friedman imagines that America is a frozen laptop and says it needs a reboot. "Do we really want to live like Fred Flintstone?" he asks, in this morning NY Times:
My fellow Americans, we can’t continue in this mode of “Dumb as wewanna be.” We’ve indulged ourselves for too long with tax cuts that we can’t afford, bailouts of auto companies that have become giant wealth-destruction machines, energy prices that do not encourage investment in 21st-century renewable power systems or efficient cars, public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating and immigration policies that have our colleges educating the world’s best scientists and engineers and then, when these foreigners graduate, instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours.
He says things have become so bad in America that we've become General Motors. "Look in the mirror," he says. "GM is US". Right. Uncle Bernie Madoff-Ponzi is us too. And so in Barry O, our charismatic-in-chief elect. So what to do? According to Friedman, who is imagines America as a frozen laptop:
We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover. That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S. history.
The next few months? Patience, patience, my dear Thomas. Unfortunately, nations can't be rebooted like ephemerally obstinate personal computers. I've just finished Malcolm Gladwell's fascinatingly obvious Outliers which argues, like Uncle Karl Marx, that men don't quite make their own history. And if we are, as Gladwell argues, indeed prisoners of our own culture (ie: two hundred and fifty years of radically individualized Protestant self-affirmation), then how can America -- which is an aggregation of 300 million democratized souls all the business of winning the lottery-of-life -- possibly reboot itself in the next "few months".
No, Friedman and his seductive reboot in the "next few months" is the symptom rather than the solution of the American crisis. I worry that long-term infrastructure like trains, public schools and efficient cars is unamerican and living like an impatient Fred Fredstone might, unfortunately, be as American as microwaved apple pie.