August 10, 2011 · 2 Comments
By Dean Baker:
In the spirit of Thomas Friedman’s column today, we should not have confidence in the quality of the news and opinion writing we see in the NYT until we see the following press release from the New York Times.
“As of this date we have notified Thomas Friedman that the New York Times no longer has a place for his column. While we recognize that Mr. Friedman had a substantial following, his column had simply become too much of an embarrassment for the newspaper and its staff. Column after column would make broad assertions that were almost completely impervious to the facts.
For example, he recently wrote a piece telling readers that everyone will have to join together to help solve the countries economic and fiscal problems. This piece completely ignored the massive redistribution from wages to profits over the last three decades and from low wage workers to high workers. This call for togetherness must have been deeply offensive to the hundreds of millions who are suffering because of this upward redistribution of income.
The prior week he told readers that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid were unaffordable “entitlements” ignoring the fact that Social Security is actually fully funded for the next quarter century and according to the Congressional Budget Office, more than 80 percent funded for the rest of the century. The projections that show Medicare and Medicaid becoming unaffordable are based on projections of exploding private sector health care costs. A competent columnist would have focused on the need for fixing the U.S. health care system.
In another column he explained that the Germans were going to bailout the Greeks, but that they would insist that the Greeks work German hours and take German vacations. Apparently Mr. Friedman did not realize that German workers on average work fewer hours than Greek workers and get longer vacations.
The NYT is a great newspaper. It should not be associated with this sort of sloppiness week after week. For this reason we will be looking for a new columnist to replace Mr. Friedman. In the mean time we will run Tom Toles cartoons in his space.”