Thomas Friedman for 20-somethings

Author Thomas Friedman has important things to say to 20-somethings about the future of the U.S. economy, but for a variety of reasons, we’re not really listening.

At least that’s the argument that drove my friend and former colleague Max Zimbert to create a new blog dedicated to translating Friedman’s latest book, “That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World it Invented and How We Can Come Back.”

In “That Used to be Us,” Friedman and co-author Michael Mandelbaum argue that if Americans don’t find a way to fix four major challenges — globalization, the information technology revolution, major government deficits and a pattern of excessive energy consumption — future generations could miss out on the so-called American dream, according to the book’s product description on

“Faced with era-defining challenges, the country has responded with all the vigor and determination of a lollipop,” he wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal review.

Enter my friend Max.

“I like Tom Friedman’s books and I think society benefits from the service he provides,” he told me in an e-mail. “But like so many of the elite influencers today, they write and report for an existing audience.”

“They don’t write for the upcoming generation or to activate and inform new audiences. The book’s title crystallizes that. “That Used To Be Us” is a Boomer mentality. That’s fine for Friedman and his publishers, but not fine enough.”

At, Max is attempting what he calls an “experiment in live-blogging” with the goal of translating Friedman’s arguments for 20-somethings.

“My feeling is we would benefit more if Friedman’s brand of intellectualism, global capitalism, American culture and hyperbole could resonate with the upcoming generation,” he said, “the individuals who will inherit and hopefully resolve the book’s subtitle “How America Fell Behind In the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back.”

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