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Bloomberg steps in it again

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. [AP File Photo]
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. [AP File Photo]

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg spent part of last week (and part of Wednesday night's debate) apologizing for comments he made in 2015 about the stop, question and frisk policy used in New York City during his time as mayor. In the audio, Bloomberg acknowledged that the practice, which helped drive down crime rates, was used heavily in minority communities “because that’s where all the crime is.”

More recently, Bloomberg has stepped in it with the ag community, which of course includes a good many Oklahomans who make their living on the land.

The culprit was Bloomberg in November 2106, addressing the Said Business School at the University of Oxford in England. Asked whether it was possible to unite people on the coasts with those in middle America, he said a hurdle was blue-collar workers’ inability to adapt to the information economy.

“The agrarian society lasted 3,000 years and we could teach processes,” Bloomberg said. “I could teach anybody, even people in this room — no offense intended — to be a farmer. It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes corn. You could learn that.”

Bloomberg added that the industrial society followed, where, “You put the piece of metal on the lathe, you turn the crank in the direction of the arrow and you can have a job.”

He continued: “Now comes the information economy, and the information economy is fundamentally different because it’s built around replacing people with technology and the skill sets that you have to learn are how to think and analyze, and that is a whole degree level different. You have to have a different skill set, you have to have a lot more gray matter.”

Ouch. The argument could be made that Bloomberg, who noted that the world economy was once 98% agriculture-based and today in the United States it’s just 2%, was talking about how farming was done thousands or hundreds of years ago. Nonetheless, the comment prompted understandable criticism.

Tractors and combines contain “far more tech than a Bloomberg Terminal,” tweeted Brendan Carr, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission. “American farmers are now experts in agronomy, tech, data analytics, & other advanced skills.”

In a tweet, Julie Gunlock, head of the Independent Women’s Forum Center for Progress & Innovation, said Bloomberg “doesn’t know about farming and doesn’t deign to speak to farmers. If he did, he’d know farming is intensely high tech today.”

Fox News political analyst Brit Hume offered this zinger: “Bloomberg seems to have acquired his knowledge of farming by watching Hee-Haw.”

Bloomberg’s unprecedented spending is helping him make real waves in the run for the nomination. He’s also finding out, however, that sometimes your own words can cause more headaches than any opponent.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›