As I listened to Denmark’s minister of economic and business affairs describe how her country used higher energy taxes to stimulate innovation in green power and then recycled the tax revenues back to Danish industry and consumers to make it easier for them to make and buy the new clean technologies, it all sounded so, well, intelligent.Because I was disgusted with the lack of gravitas in the Democratic presidential field, I cast a write-in vote for Mr. Friedman in the California Democratic primary in 2004. The man was the only one who wanted America to take the debris of 9/11 and turn it into something positive; he was the only person to say out loud that Americans had to sacrifice a whole lot to get where we needed to go; he was the only guy in the room warning that if we didn't step up to the plate, America was to find herself a second-class world citizen.
How long are we Americans going to go on thinking that we can thrive in the 21st century when doing the optimal things — whether for energy, health care, education or the deficit — are “off the table.”
My fellow Americans, the fact that the recent Copenhagen climate summit was a bust in terms of solving our energy/climate problems doesn’t mean that we can ignore those problems — or that we can ignore how individual countries, like Denmark, have effectively addressed them. With unemployment in Denmark at about 4 percent, compared with our 10 percent, maybe we should at least consider putting a few of its ideas on our table.
Yet many in congress (mainly Republicans, but a few Democrats as well) refuse to make the hard choices needed to make us less dependent on Middle East oil, to overhaul our failing education system, to repair and solidify our manufacturing sector. These members of congress have one goal and one goal only: to be re-elected time and again. To which I ask, "for what?" The longer they wait to do something, the harder those things that need to get done will be when a future congress finally has the cajones to address these issues head on.
And until these imbeciles cast the votes necessary for such legislation, America's stature diminishes further by the day.
Update, thinking out load: Personally, I think it would behoove President Obama to add two voices to his team of advisers in the White House - two men who could challenge the President to go the extra mile, to serve as key players during administration debates, to add a level of intelligence to the discussion that Mr. Obama doesn't necessarily get from his core political team. Those two men are Mr. Friedman and Andrew Sullivan.
Had I been president, those two would have been offered key advisory roles in my administration. I wouldn't have agreed with them 100% of the time. Not even close. But to have such brain power challenging the president on the key issues of the day would help make any president one of the greats of the 21st century.