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New York Times columnist Tom Friedman: Don’t stop globalization to appease Trumpists

“Thank God for Amazon and Apple and Google and the opportunities they’ve created.”

Meet The Press Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press

New York Times columnist and “The World Is Flat” author Tom Friedman says globalization is not strictly good or bad — and those who try to cast it as either are missing the point.

In his new book, “Thank You for Being Late,” Friedman offers a guide for optimists in the “age of acceleration,” his catchall term for rapid change in technology, business and the climate. On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, he argued that humans need to focus on the things they can do that machines cannot.

“If you don't marry these technological advances with all the things you can’t download — good values, good teaching, good educating, things that take time and are slow — if you don’t put the two together, you’re going to have a problem,” Friedman said. “There are a lot of human-to-human skills that are now going to be needed more than ever. And there’s going to be huge job opportunities in that.”

He dismissed the rise of Trumpist populism and its attendant backlash against immigrants, noting that the days of “Carrier coming to your town with a 25,000-person factory” are over. And he expressed concern over the political forces building in opposition to free-trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I think we need stronger safety nets and trampolines,” Friedman said. “But what I object to is turning the whole economy around for them. Please, take my money, take care of these people, which we haven’t done well enough.”

He said the difference between people like “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance and the people of his hometown is that Vance got out and got an education, while many others didn’t take advantage of the opportunities America had offered them.

“He looked around and said, ‘All these people around me made bad choices. They married, multiple times, the wrong people. They got into drugs, they were lazy. They did not know what world they were living in, and didn’t try to change! So I’m supposed to stop TPP, to choke off the drivers of the economy?”

“This is my country, too,” he added. “I sympathize with a lot of people, and my book is full of ideas to bring them along, but a bit of realism here! Thank God for Amazon and Apple and Google and the opportunities they’ve created, precisely to educate more of these people, people who need these opportunities, to give them the ability to start a business. I think we’ve gone too far.”

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