CNBC Host Upset 'American Political Community' Worried about 'Killing Grandma,' Not Green Technology

December 14th, 2009 6:11 PM

It's a good thing New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wasn't a used car salesman because CNBC "Squawk on the Street" co-host Mark Haines would have driven off the lot in a lemon.

Friedman appeared on the Dec. 14 broadcast of "Squawk on the Street" to promote the paperback release of his book, "Hot, Flat, and Crowded." And once again, he made the case the United States is lagging behind in green technology and the only way to overcome this innovation gap is to set some sort of premium on the price of using carbon-based energy sources, as he meticulously argued in his book.

Friedman insisted it will take action by the government to impose these premiums and to grant some sort of long-term subsidy to stimulate this innovation. Haines, showing he was sold on Friedman's premise, expressed his doubt this could ever be set in motion.

"See, now you're bumming me out and this is where I turn into a cynic," Haines said. "To suppose that the American political community could act that intelligently and responsibly - that's a real stretch."

Friedman agreed, but continued to plead his case.

"Mark, we are in this mode in this country of dumb as we want to be," Friedman said. "Dumb as we want to be and I would say we can't continue this."

And that spurred Haines to lash out at the so-called "American political community," for being concerned over the intricacies of ObamaCare instead of being concerned over Freidman's pet issue - green energy.

"They're arguing about killing grandma when there are issues like this one," Haines said.

And Friedman made his pitch that the Chinese have it figured out because they don't have the political process, which means it's a hurdle for the United States to overcome.
"Exactly, we can't have an intelligent conversation," Friedman said. "All we can produce are suboptimal solutions to our biggest problem. How do we rise as a nation and thrive when our biggest competitor globally, China, run by authoritarian engineers, basically, can produce optimal solutions to its biggest problems? That is a real problem."

However, the problems democracy in capitalism presented to Friedman's end goal, as co-host Erin Burnett said Friedman was suggesting, was a discussion for another day.