Conversations with the morning paper | Bleader

Monday, August 29, 2011

Conversations with the morning paper

Posted By on 08.29.11 at 08:30 AM

not a BRIC
  • not a BRIC
Notes on reading the Sunday New York Times:

In the op-ed section, Frank Bruni whines about the wretched state of America. And the reader's despair gives way to indignation. Well, why doesn't the Times do something?!

Bruni moans:

Just last week the Congressional Budget Office predicted that unemployment would stay above 8 percent until at least 2014. It has been almost consistently above 9 percent for more than two years now. The budget office also projected a $1.3 trillion budget deficit for 2011 and a growth in G.D.P. of just 2.3 percent.

That’s a pittance in comparison with growth in Brazil, Russia, India or China, known in aggregate as BRIC. I mention the acronym because I heard it constantly this summer. “The BRIC countries are coming on strong.” “You should invest in one of the BRIC indexes.” There was a fascination with economies that were surging because ours so emphatically wasn’t, and they were a rebuke to it. America the sluggish. America the envious.

Putting the BRIC countries in their place is as simple as rearranging the acronym. BRIC = sturdy, foundation, building, future. But CRIB = infantile, immature, long way to go, nanny state.

BRIC, we are told, has been around since 2001. It has worn out its welcome. A change would be transformational, and the Times should spearhead it. The time when french fries were renamed freedom fries remains such a powerful moment in American history that it is still spoken of today by millions who cannot begin to recall what all the fuss was about in the first place.

And in the same section of the Times, Stephen Cave thinks about death. He's grateful for death, which he tells us is responsible for cathedrals, pyramids, and bonds set for crimes of prostitution nine times as high as they'd otherwise be.

"If we were all immortal," Cave writes, "the motor of civilization would sputter and stop." Research must show that the longer we're around in the world the less interested we are in fixing it up.

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