Hot, Flat, and Crowded
Thomas L. Friedman / Author Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc $27.95
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Friedman (The World Is Flat) is still an unrepentant guru of globalism, despite the looming economic crisis attributable, in Friendman's view, to the U.S. having become a ""subprime nation that thinks it can just borrow its way to prosperity."" Friedman covers familiar territory (the need for alternate energy, conservation measures, recycling, energy efficiency, etc.) as a build-up to his main thesis: the U.S. market is the ""most effective and prolific system for transformational innovation.... There is only one thing bigger than Mother Nature and that is Father Profit."" While he remains ostensibly a proponent of the free market, he does not flinch from using the government to create conditions favorable to investment, such as setting a ""floor price for crude oil or gasoline,"" and imposing a new gasoline tax ($5-$10 per gallon) in order to make investment in green technologies attractive to venture capitalists: ""America needs an energy technology bubble just like the information technology bubble."" To make such draconian measures palatable, Friedman poses a national competition to ""outgreen"" China, modeled on Kennedy's proposal to beat the Soviets to the moon, a race that required a country-wide mobilization comparable to the WWII war effort. Recognizing the looming threat of ""petrodicatorship"" and U.S. dependence on imported oil, this warning salvo presents a stirring and far-darker vision than Friedman's earlier books.
Reviewed on: 09/08/2008