Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hot, flat, and ....

Susan and Nate went to hear the writer Thomas Friedman speak at Wait Chapel (Jon is overwhelmed with Threepenny Opera preparations). Friedman's message was sober - basically that change in the climate, the growth of an American-style middle class in other regions, and global overpopulation doom the U.S. to a very unpleasant future with a lower standard of living unless our political system figures out how to overcome its current gridlock - but he is an animated and intelligent speaker who can get a point across. His solution to all of these problems is technological - develop new, cheap, clean sources of energy - and he proposes that the major (possibly the only) role of government in getting from here to there is getting the price of energy right via appropriate taxes. He noted that Kyoto and Copenhagen and UN reports are all very well and good, but that price matters so much that without getting this right the necessary innovation will be slow in coming and will likely come from other countries, not the U.S. Because Susan is a regular reader of the New York Times she was already familiar with most of Friedman's best lines, but she did learn a new one - Friedman's guilty wish that the U.S. could become "China for one day" so that the government could set energy prices at an appropriate level so its citizens could just get on with the innovation.

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