This week’s “Daily Journal” guest columnist is Paul Messino, Project Management Specialist for the John Locke Foundation.

Some books are slides – tiny, preserved slivers of history that, upon future inspection, reveal an axiom of the past. Two examples come immediately to mind: L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which allegorically captured the American political climate of the 1890s; and Voltaire’s novella Candide, which satirized Europe’s 18th century optimism by showing a world plagued by misfortune.

And then there’s Thomas L. Friedman. You know, The New York Times reporter turned novelist who’s been swimming in accolades since the publication of his book that claims to be a brief history of the 21st century: The World Is Flat. The book’s praise is merited, but not for its ability to capture this century. What it does historically well is categorize why liberal, socialistic, and progressive views will always fall short.

By nature, conservative-minded individuals are optimistic. They work hard and have strong black-and-white, right-and-wrong values. Because of this, they believe that the good that’s done today will help make tomorrow better. Some might call this idealism. So be it. Whatever you call it, President Bush is of this mold, in part because of his stalwart optimism.

One of the finest examples of Bush’s optimism is in his 2005 State of the Union Address, particularly his sections on terrorism. Bush declared of the War on Terror that:

Our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens and reflect their own cultures. And because democracies respect their own people and their neighbors, the advances of freedom will lead to peace.

In essence, if we work to foster democracies (actually, democratic republics), which by nature inevitably engage in trade (globalization), peace between nations would become second nature. In Kantian terms, globalization is one component of a democratic, world peace.

What do supporters of the welfare state have to say?

Of course there are some outliers, such as those that protested the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999. They think, erroneously, that globalization can and should be quelled. But as the sheer improbability of this idea becomes more apparent, a new breed of liberal is gaining prominence: “Compassionate Flatists” or Neoliberals, a term propagated and defended by Friedman.

According to this new form of liberalism, granting that globalization is the new economic reality, governments must now redesign safety nets and reinvent incentives structures to protect citizens while maintaining global trade networks. The World Is Flat is an allegory for this mutation of liberalism, and the notion that it even exists must be a satire.

In The World Is Flat, Friedman tracks the rise of globalization. But when it comes to speculating about the future, Friedman shows what he and all Neoliberals fail to see – that the success linked to globalization and free markets comes about because there are minimal or no safety nets or incentives structures.

Of the many recommendations Friedman makes for ensuring America’s success in the global market, one of his strongest is what he calls the National Science Initiative. By increasing government subsidies to allow every American man or woman a place on a college campus, and by pumping more funds into science and engineering, we can regain our hold on these innovative fields. So the theory goes.

Four days before Bush delivered his State of the Union Address in 2006, Friedman went a step farther in The New York Times, advising the president on the Neoliberal views he should address. Not only should a National Science Initiative be enacted, but “we must impose the highest energy-efficiency standards on our own automakers and other industries so we force them to be the most innovative.” There should also be enacted a “$2-a-gallon gasoline tax that will be phased in by 10 cents a month beginning in 2008 – so that people . . . start buying fuel-efficient cars.”

And although Friedman sees that the future of globalization and America’s economic success depends on forcing individuals to do certain things, Bush answered his requests. In his 2006 State of the Union Address, Bush denounced protectionism, pushed for more funding for research and development, encouraged the growth of the science and math fields, labeled our oil dependency an “addiction” and proposed the Advanced Energy Initiative as a solution. The speech had Friedman written all over it.

The response? On February 3, three days after the address, Friedman wrote, invoking the historic policy change following Nixon’s 1972 visit to China:

Well, it wasn’t exactly Nixon to China. But it wasn’t bean bag either. I’d say the president’s State of the Union speech, when it came to calling for an end to our oil addiction and a real push to improve our educational competitiveness, was more like Nixon goes to New Mexico.

No wonder Republicans are happier than Democrats. Liberals just can’t win. Their ideas are self-defeating, and even when the highest office-holding Republican picks up their misguided ideas, they still find a way to lose.