LAX as metaphor for America's decline

Thomas Friedman, the New York Times' well-read Op-Ed columnist, starts his latest column on America's need to be more innovative and competitive with a short riff on how tattered Los Angeles International Airport looks.

Walking through its faded, cramped domestic terminal, I got the feeling of a place that once thought of itself as modern but has had one too many face-lifts and simply can’t hide the wrinkles anymore. In some ways, LAX is us. We are the United States of Deferred Maintenance. China is the People’s Republic of Deferred Gratification. They save, invest and build. We spend, borrow and patch.

And this contrast is playing out in the worst way — just slowly enough so the crisis never seems acute enough to take urgent action. But, eventually, infrastructure, education and innovation policies matter. Businesses prefer to invest with the Jetsons more than the Flintstones, which brings me to the subject of this column.

LAX, the gift that keeps on giving.

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