As it turns out, “regular Joe” Thomas Friedman, who so frequently advocates economic policies with little regard to their impact on working Americans, is among the wealthiest human beings on the planet.
As the July edition of the Washingtonian Magazine notes, Friedman lives in “a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7Â½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club.” He “married into one of the 100 richest families in the country” – the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.
Let’s be clear – I’m a capitalist, so I have no problem with people doing well or living well, even Tom Friedman. That said, this does potentially explain an ENORMOUS amount about Friedman’s perspective. Far from the objective, regular-guy interpreter of globalization that the D.C. media portrays him to be, Friedman is a member of the elite of the economic elite on the planet Earth. In fact, he’s married into such a giant fortune, it’s probably more relevant to refer to him as Billionaire Scion Tom Friedman than columnist Tom Friedman, both because that’s more descriptive of what he represents, and more important for readers of his work to know so that they know a bit about where he’s coming from.
Mind you, I don’t think everyone needs to publish their net worth. But Friedman’s not everyone. He’s not just “doing pretty well” and is not just any old columnist. He’s not just a millionaire or a multimillionaire – he’s member of one of the wealthiest families in the world, and is one of the most influential media voices on the planet, who writes specifically about economic/class issues. If politicians are forced to disclose every last asset they own, you’d think at the very least, the New York Times – in the interest of basic disclosure – should have a tagline under Friedman’s economic columns that says “Tom Friedman is an heir to a multi-billion-dollar business empire.”
Again, there’s positively nothing wrong with people being rich in general, or Tom Friedman being a billionaire scion in specific. The problem is that so few of his readers know this, even as he aggressively uses his platform to justify policies that almost exclusively benefit his super-wealthy brethren – all under the guise of supposed objectivity.
Then again, the fact that we know so little about who is actually making opinion in this country isn’t surprising. Even looking at this kind of information as it relates to the most important opinionmaker in the world is looked down upon by Washington insiders/elites/politicians. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson from “A Few Good Men,” deep down in places they don’t talk about at parties, they want billionaires like Friedman dictating the debate because they need someone creating public rationales for policies that enrich Big Money interests, sell out America and guarantee the next fat campaign contribution.