This Week’s Cartoon: “Pundit Retraining”

I realize creative destruction happens when technology changes, and to some extent it’s inevitable.  (The kind of “creative” destruction Romney practiced at Bain: not so good.) But some people become cheerleaders for economic disruption without the appropriate amount of empathy for affected workers, and that annoys me.

If you think the pundit in the cartoon bears a passing resemblance to Thomas Friedman, I won’t argue with you. Friedman isn’t as empathy-challenged as they come, but he’s pretty bad. He endlessly fantasizes about retraining Americans to be high-tech imagineers, even though our current unemployment woes are broad-based, not structural.

“In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle… Average is over,” he wrote in a recent tone-deaf column that glowingly referred to the above-average workers in China who were roused in the middle of the night to work a 12-hour shift installing iPhone screens. Aside from his apparent lack of concern that such labor conditions totally suck, it’s kind of haughty to imply that the unemployed are suffering from a case of averageness. There are plenty of highly-educated Americans who can’t find jobs — never mind the fact that many jobs out there barely utilize your education. If we are to dismiss the average or subpar, then perhaps Friedman’s column should be the first to go.


Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.



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