I’m still buzzing on Tom Friedman’s March 7th editorial, “The Great Inflection,” in the New York Times.  If you missed it, shame on you.  Go now: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/opinion/08friedman.html

Whatever you think about the man’s body of work, this take on the current market correction is a revelation.  Refreshing is hardly a strong enough word.  Call this a hiccup, recession, or depression.  Call it whatever you will.  Just don’t miss the powerful lesson on markets coded within the collapse.  Friedman is one of the only mainstream voices I have seen questioning the assumption not that America will recover to its current economic heft, but rather whether it should.

“What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental
than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth
model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable
economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall —
when Mother Nature and the market both said: ‘No more.’ “

A potent question.  One that ought to be on the lips of more citizens, legislators and captains of industry.  Its an uncomfortable idea.  However, this notion pales in comparison to the discomfort we can experience by continuing down the path of unsustainable growth for growth’s sake — the sacrifice of our community integrity to the shallow cost equations of the corporate bottom line.

With luck, we can look to the local, inverting Friedman’s thesis of a flat world.  The demand for corporations who look for net zero with respect to inputs and outputs can only be fulfilled by corporations who, in Wendell Berry’s formulation, are accountable to their home ground, and their neighbors.  So while obstructionists like columnist Charles Krauthammer decry the attempts of the Obama administration and progressives in Congress to use the economic crisis to legislate a recovery, producing “the most radical agenda of social transformation seen in our lifetime,”  I have but one thing to say.

It’s about time.