Sunday, July 22, 2012

#203 / Startup America

Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times columnist, is a professional advice-giver. Today, on Sunday, July 22nd, he opined that "Obama needs [the] right narrative."

That, at least, was the headline on the column I read in today's Mercury News. The New York Times headlined the column differently: "The Launching Pad." Headlines differ, but the advice remains the same, whatever the headline may say. Friedman believes that the President needs to campaign for reelection on "an integrated set of policies, and a narrative, that could animate, inspire and tie together an Obama second term." For Friedman, it's clear that this theme should be that "America should be for the 21st-century world what Cape Canaveral was for America in the 1960s...the launching pad."

What, exactly, does Friedman think that America should be "launching," since it's presumably not more rockets to the moon? If that were Friedman's vision, he would have backed candidate Newt Gingrich, who literally believed that America should make colonizing the moon a major national priority.

Friedman says that "building America into ... [a] launching pad for more start-ups is what an Obama second term should be about, so more Americans can thrive in a world we invented." Read the column for yourself; we're doing really, really well is the basic message of today's Friedman advisory.

In fact, the President appears already to have taken Friedman's advice (or maybe Friedman got his idea from the President). Here's an article announcing the "launch" of a Startup America effort, which promptly led to the creation of a Startup America Partnership. Click on the link to visit its website.

Unfortunately, I do not believe that a campaign built on the self-congratulatory observations made by Thomas Friedman is going to "animate" the American people in the right way. In fact, if America "invented" our modern world, we need to claim credit for its deeply dissatisfying aspects, as well as for some of the good things. I would like to see a "positive" and "visionary" campaign, which Friedman is arguing for, but that doesn't mean more economic "startups," based on a continued plundering of the natural environment in the pursuit of more consumption and production.

My advice, like Friedman's, is totally without charge to the reader!

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