It was Joni Mitchell who said "don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone." Since she wrote that in 1970 (On a trip to Hawaii -- how did we live before Wikipedia?), it's pretty unlikely she was talking about New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, although she could have been. Even though Herbert's been a fixture on the NYT op-ed page for a number of years, and in the the New York Daily News, it seems like since the economic crisis of 2008 he's been truly indespensible.
That's why it was stunning to learn on Friday night that he's leaving the paper (to write a book and to work on an unnamed project with a more overtly progressive slant) just as we was warming up. And his final column was a grand slam -- check it out:
Arthur Miller, echoing the poet Archibald MacLeish, liked to say that the essence of America was its promises. That was a long time ago. Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. Young people today are staring at a future in which they will be less well off than their elders, a reversal of fortune that should send a shudder through everyone.
The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.
Please read out the whole thing.