Evil Parasitic Caterpillar that has Been Eating Thomas Friedman’s Brain Finally Dies!

Sharon March 9th, 2009

Note: Sorry for the quiet blog - I’ve been away and in transit and lazy.  I will be posting more AIP stuff and also an account of my Tucson trip, including my visit to Chile, whose food I must say tastes even better than it looks on the blog.  But in the meantime, here’s this breaking news!

Thomas Friedman, uncritical neo-classical economist, whack job proponent of globalization and porn-star-style mustachioed New York Times columnist has actually decided that growth is bad.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/opinion/08friedman.html?_r=2 

 This stunning development occurred after the evil, parasitic alien caterpillar that has been residing on his upper lip died, ending its multi-year position controlling all of Friedman’s brain activity.  This is the only possible explanation for a sudden shift to rationality from a man who has done more to encourage the globalizing destruction of all hope for sustainability than most.  

 In a news conference, Friedman also renounced the “science” of economics, and vowed to help develop a new steady state economy.  He also reassured those who would miss his famous look that despite the death of his parasite, he’d be keeping its corpse on his upper lip, since he’s gotten used to it. 

 (Ok, the last part isn’t true.  But the article is, and this is the only way I can think of that really makes sense ;-)).


20 Responses to “Evil Parasitic Caterpillar that has Been Eating Thomas Friedman’s Brain Finally Dies!”

  1. Cycling in Hollywoodon 09 Mar 2023 at 10:08 am

    its a sign of SOME kind of inflection point when Friedman finally catches on

  2. Robyn M.on 09 Mar 2023 at 11:57 am

    YES! YES I SAW THIS!!! Ooooooo…..

    I swear I almost started choking when I caught the first line of the Energy Bulletin about it. This, truly, is a sign of the apocalypse.

  3. Shambaon 09 Mar 2023 at 12:04 pm

    Tlad to see you safely back from your travels, sharon. I’m very sorry I couldn’t make it down to tucson to see you but too many things in life happened the past week here.

    I’ll be very interested to read about your sojourn out here. I thought about you the days you would be traveling and wondered how you were doing. Flying these days isn’t as much fun as it used to be and you had a long trip from where you live.

    and I better do my class homework today! :)

    I’ll have to check out this article by Friedman-I can ‘t believe it without reading it myself!

    Peace to All,

  4. Greenpaon 09 Mar 2023 at 12:08 pm

    Yep; saw it. BUT. I’m afraid the parasitic caterpillar left a great vacuum up there-

    He does NOT, in fact, renounce growth. He just wants to re-define it. Sort of. From the last paragraphs of the piece:

    ” We must have growth, but we must grow in a different way. … Let’s grow by creating flows rather than plundering more stocks.”

    Whatever that means.

    I’m really not seeing any way around “we must have growth.”

    That article was part of what generated my blog post of yesterday:


    He’s an economist. He hasn’t escaped that yet, I think. He might, actually, be aiming at co-opting the critics of “economics”, by seeming to adopt their views. But. “we must have growth.” Still there. Physics, shmysics.

  5. Noelleon 09 Mar 2023 at 1:34 pm

    have you read any of David Rees’ cartoons? there was a great one about Friedman in january…..


    just to note, it uses adult (pg13) language

  6. Senaon 09 Mar 2023 at 1:40 pm

    I did an odd double-take when I actually saw his picture. I’ve heard this man much vilified amongst the sustainability crowd to the point it’s almost a cliche. I realized though that he was also the prof for my freshman macro-econ class back in ‘95/96 at the Uni of MN… wierd…

  7. graycaton 09 Mar 2023 at 1:53 pm

    The caterpillar hasn’t died. It’s changed into a butterfly. Now let’s hope the butterfly effect works.

  8. Peter Don 09 Mar 2023 at 2:00 pm

    I’ve been reading his book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, and while I disagree with some of his ideas (he discounts peak oil for instance), he is on the right track. He certainly understands the need for clean energy and for us to maintain our natural spaces and the animals that live in them. Is he still for growth? No doubt, but I think it’s a more conscious growth, rather than a growth at all costs type of thing.

    While some will argue that yes, he’s not moved away from the belief in growth as vital, he has tempered it a lot and placed some caveats on it. And I think that’s huge. It’s progress. And it’s a start.

  9. Tinaon 09 Mar 2023 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks Sharon. I love your sense of humor, but more, thanks for turning me on to Climate Progress which is referenced in Friedman’s op-ed piece. I am really looking forward to your AIP posts, but hope that you get a chance to breathe first.

  10. Christinaon 09 Mar 2023 at 3:08 pm

    Of course we need growth. Life is about growth, at all levels. What many forget in the growth picture, is that life is also about death, at all levels. You cannot have one without the other…

  11. Crunchy Chickenon 09 Mar 2023 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks a lot. Do you know how hard it is to remove semi-masticated apple that has been snorted up one’s nose?

    And that’s no ordinary caterpillar. Tis a GMO tribble. What’s with you and the porn-star mustachioed men, anyway?

    Glad you’re back and I hope you had fun with the Spicy One.

  12. Jamey Hechton 09 Mar 2023 at 5:35 pm

    Hi, Sharon! Here’s my new post, ending with a shout-out to your Ladyship.
    All best,


  13. Soi Disanton 09 Mar 2023 at 6:00 pm

    This is definitely a Friedmanian ’round turn!’ I’d say Hooray! except for the fact that the affliction your posting points to has inevitably caused cognitive-dissonance-related permanent amnesia, and so we will find Mr. Friedman writing and speaking now as though his new way of thinking was what he thought all along.

    MY hope for the present financial crisis—from which a way will be manufactured for us to emerge “all better”—will be that more of the pundits and talking bigheads who have access and audience will start questioning the prevailing “endless growth” economic paradigm by beginning to cite some of the more cautionary and critical voices that have been there all along.

    Another view finally has a brief chance—at least until the present crisis is “over”—to be heard and discussed.

    At least, that is something we can hope for.

  14. veraon 09 Mar 2023 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks for the link, Sharon. Interesting. I am wondering whether, however, it is less of a conversion than rats leaving the ship.

    But even that is good news.

  15. Leila Abu-Sabaon 09 Mar 2023 at 10:35 pm

    This confirms my postulate about the NY Times: the paper will only print a new idea once it has become so glaringly obvious that it is now received wisdom. If it’s regarding a trend or a fashion or a technology, then the moment for it has already passed. (Facebook is over, folks, we just don’t know it yet). But if it’s about something as big as the Great Disruption -well, it just means that now only wingnuts will refuse to believe it.

    2d point about economists - why hasn’t anybody in this crowd read The Divine Right of Capital by Marjorie Kelly? The book is 7 years old or more; I got it b/c a friend worked for the publisher in SF for a time. She reorganizes traditional accounting to show how it leaves out the really important stuff, like environmental impact and the worth of labor. She also analyzes the “rights” of capital as similar to the divine rights of kings - our constitution doesn’t really posit that capital deserves all these rights, but we unconsciously accept that shareholders deserve more rights than the rest of the polity and the planet. My summary from reading several years ago. Every body go find this book and read it now.

  16. Sharonon 10 Mar 2023 at 8:02 am

    Peter - I think if you start with HFAC, it is really hard to realize what a fast turnaround Friedman has done. If you read _The Lexus and the Olive Tree_ or _The World Is Flat_, you’ll see that this is a pretty radical shift - and that he was such a huge proponent of the idea that there only is one choice, massive industrial globalization. At one point in TLATOT, he says something along the lines (it is quoted in A Nation of Farmers, I think) that the only choices are globalization and that we become North Korea. I think he bears a lot of blame for publicizing the narrative that got us in trouble - but I’m grateful for his turnaround.

    Crunch - Glad I helped with breakfast ;-). I just have a thing about mustaches - they evoke the 1970s for me in much the same way brown bell bottoms and avocado green wallpaper do.

    Jamey - Cool, thanks!


  17. NeoLotuson 10 Mar 2023 at 10:10 am


    I might also suggest reading “Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered” by E.F. Schumacher. It was published in 1973.

    And a HUGE thanks to Sharon for giving me a very hearty laugh for the day.

  18. Jerahon 10 Mar 2023 at 10:35 am

    I cannot STAND Friedman. I once had to transcribe a whole speech of his - I almost choked on all the convoluted, meaningless, mangled metaphors. He managed to describe Israeli/Palestinian peace negotiations using the image of a coffee cup, a conference table, and a dog. It was awful.

    He is such an idiot, I doubt he even noticed that he’s contradicting himself on the idea of growth…

    Here’s the most hilarious lampooning of “friedmanese”, courtesy of Matt Taibbi: http://www.nypress.com/article-11419-flathead.html

  19. Jerahon 10 Mar 2023 at 11:02 am

    Oh, and apparently he wrote a new one for “Hot, Flat and Crowded”:

    I’m crying, I’m laughing so hard.

    The take-away quote, on Friedman changing his mind about unlimited growth and becoming an “environmentalist”:

    “But better late than never, I suppose. Or as Friedman might say, “Better two cell phones than a fish in your zipper.” “

  20. Leila Abu-Sabaon 10 Mar 2023 at 4:22 pm

    NeoLotus - I thought everybody on this blog has read Small is Beautiful? That and Diet for a Small Planet were part of the zeitgeist of my childhood. Even if you hadn’t read them, your grown-ups had, and you breathed their atmosphere.

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