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The following is a letter to the editor to the New York Times, in response to their opinion page item, The Great Unraveling, by the inimitable Thomas Friedman.

To the Editor:

In today’s Times, from his usual moral high-horse, Thomas Friedman excoriates American bankers and stock traders and demands a change: “…Which is why we don’t just need a financial bailout; we need an ethical bailout.”

Mr. Friedman apparently believes in situational ethics, for on  April 27, 2003, he wrote this: ” As far as I’m concerned, we do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war. That skull, and the thousands more that will be unearthed, are enough for me. Mr. Bush doesn’t owe the world any explanation for missing chemical weapons (even if it turns out that the White House hyped this issue).”

Being a man of reputed wisdom, perhaps Mr Friedman might now see the connection between the example of dishonesty and deceit at the highest levels of government in the service of the most grave act of government, to commit to war, and the dishonesty and deceitfulness of the financial community which is, after all, only following the example of the Federal Executive.

For a man regarded as having a broad overview of the world, able to gather together and bind a wide range of information, one would think this elemental matter would have been visible to him long ago.  The ethical tone of so-called “leaders” is often reflected in those they lead.

If you will recall Mr. Friedman was one of the loudest proponents of the aggression against Iraq for its alleged holding of WMD.  The greatest unraveling for Mr. Friedman is his consistent failure to apply the honesty he now demands of others to himself.


Prof Jon Jost

Journalist Thomas Friedman moderates a plenary session on strengthening market-based solutions during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York September 22, 2010.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTXSJ41

Of course to expect honesty of the man who lives in the house depicted below, who sometimes scribbles about the virtues of  “green” technology, and who invariably contrives to wrong-foot himself, is to ask for miracles.   Mr. Friedman is a bought man, like most of those who live in the world of high finance, or who wield great influence in the councils of government.  Because he is bought, he brings a high-price for lectures.  But somewhere, he pays an even higher price.



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