Guest Blog: Tom Friedman's Magical Mystery Tour

I know this is somewhat unorthodox, but Thomas Friedman couldn’t reach his editor at the Times in time to get his column in for today, so he asked if I would publish it for him in this space.

KHULISAL — This South Asian country, slightly smaller than Iowa, is quickly becoming one of the new Asian Tigers that might drive the world economy out of its recession. Long ignored by world investors, Khulisal is making China’s and India’s economies look downright sluggish and backward.


As I arrived in the new multibillion-dollar airport in the capital city, I was whisked through customs by an entrepreneurial 13-year-old shoeshine kid who had a copy of the Financial Times tucked under his arm and was eager to practice his English: “Come here, Mr. Friedman, it’s too hot and crowded to wait in the regular queue, and you are much too important.” You don’t even need to leave the airport to spot brilliance. Khulisal might be a late comer to the new world economy, but they sure are making up for lost time with boundless ambition.

Getting from the airport to the specially built downtown hotel for my visit produced an even more delicious surprise. I was astonished to find that all the taxis in the capital have been retrofitted with solar-panel roofs. Khulisal’s pounding sun, once thought a liability, now powers all the country’s automobiles for a year on less oil than it takes to fuel the Atlanta bus system for one year. If they can get it right here, why can’t we retool Detroit? I hope the Obama administration considers hiring the head of the Khulisali taxi service as the new head of GM.

The thriving Khulisali economy isn’t limited to its urban centers. A friend of mine, who happens to be the senior government minister for Pleasing-Tom-Friedman, took me out into some of the more rural areas of the country. What I found was astonishing. Recently, Khulisali donkeys have had GPS chips implanted in them to guide them automatically to the next watering hole. The devices have finally kept thirsty tourists from leading their donkeys astray by futilely chasing mirages across the desert.

That wasn’t the only innovation I found. Remember hearing about how hard it is to harvest rice? Not anymore. Khulisali farmers have solved much of the problem by creating miniature wireless dams that control the flooding of the rice paddies, while also harnessing the power of the water to sell electricity back to the electric company.

Lastly, I was shown a promising new source of energy: clean-burning rice. A group of villagers, funded by a venture capital company in Mumbai, are experimenting with burning rice as a replacement fuel for coal and other fossil fuels. These villagers recently discovered that when rice is burned by lasers, it can produce some of the most efficient heat ever observed. That’s not the real kicker, though; the resulting carbon dioxide output is almost nil, except for the release of a subtle and pleasing mango-flavored scent.



The views expressed in this blog do not represent the views or opinions of Generations United.