NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Opinion: Let's Do Nation-Building in America

January 2, 2002

New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman has been highly visible since Sept. 11, as a much-in-demand talking head regarding the war on terrorism. But Friedman has also used his newly elevated soapbox to push a liberal domestic policy agenda.

For example, in today's New York Times, Friedman complains that President Bush "has tried to use the tremendous upsurge in patriotism, bipartisanship and volunteerism triggered by the tragedy of Sept. 11 to drive a narrow, right-wing agenda...."

Although he gives no specifics on that agenda, Friedman's alternative is "using the power of Sept. 11 to make our country stronger, safer and a better global citizen...."

  • He is outraged that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to cut production by 6.5 percent last Friday to boost oil prices -- ignoring the fact that the real price of oil is at its lowest level in years and the average price of gasoline is below a dollar a gallon.
  • He calls on Bush to launch a program for energy independence, based on developing renewable resources, domestic production and energy efficiency.
  • That, according to Friedman, is "Bush's best response to foreigners who are enraged by America's refusal to join the Kyoto treaty to stop global warming."

Finally, he quotes oil consultant Philip Verleger, who says that we could cut oil consumption on the highways by a third over the next five years. This would be accomplished with tax incentives to produce more efficient vehicles and to get consumers to buy them -- funded by a higher gas tax.

This, says Friedman, is his idea of nation-building -- here in America.

Source: Thomas L. Friedman, "Let's Roll," New York Times, January 2, 2002.


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