Friday, May 29, 2009

The Lexus and the Olive Tree

I have just about finished 'The Lexus and the Olive Tree' and I have to give it sweeping approval. I knew that Freidman is a liberal, and this comes out at the very end of the book where he praises some existing bipartisan legislature from the Clinton era as well as pushes for a boost in microlending to poor Americans and also to poor foreigners like existing microlenders do (they're quite profitable). Globalization he argue is the vehicle behind the biggest long term gains in history, but also causes extreme short-term displacement. The market will therefor never achieve the full Reagan-Thatcher vision because the working man is not patient enough to ride out a short-term setback and he will act on this impatience politically. He advocates for a healthy trampoline under the trapeze of the free market- not a safety net, but programs designed to quickly bounce those temporarily left behind back on. These include: pilot programs for public temp employment, tax breaks on severance pay, free govt. resume assistance, extension of the Kassebaum-Kennedy Act (laid-off workers keep health insurance longer). He liked the Workforce Investment Act that boosts job-training thru educational grants and lifetime learning credit.

It's a good read

"A powerful volume that comes as close as anything we now have to definition of the real character of the new world order"
- Francis Fukuyama, The New Statesman

I'll let you borrow my copy.