Saturday, February 7, 2009

Japan, Role Model for the U.S.?

Yesterday, the New York Times front page contained this article: "Japan’s Stimulus Push Holds Lessons for U.S.," by Martin Fackler. The gist of the article is that, in the 1990s, when Japan’s economy went down the tubes, the Japanese government spent over $6 trillion on public works projects, mostly construction-related, to spur the economy back to life. After 10 years of this, the Japanese were still in a recession. The most telling paragraph in the article is this(P. A10):

Among ordinary Japanese, the spending is widely disparaged for having turned the nation into a public-works-based welfare state and making regional economies dependent on Tokyo for jobs. Much of the blame has fallen
on the Liberal Democratic Party, which has long used government spending to grease rural vote-buying machines that help keep the party in power. [emphasis added]

Sound familiar? Suppose we paraphrase Fackler(changes in italics):

Among ordinary Americans, the spending is widely
disparaged for havingturned the nation into a public-works-basedwelfare state and making regional economies dependent on Washington for jobs. Much of the blame has fallen on the liberal Democrat Party,which has long used governmentspending to grease rural,
city, and
vote-buying machines--
such as unions,
Acorn, the ACLU,the NAACP, La Raza, etc
.--that help keep
the party in power.

Will ordinary Americans (or, as Dan Rather used to call us, “work-a-day Americans”) be as smart as “ordinary Japanese”, and realize what a colossal power-grab this so-called stimulus package is? I am not optimistic.


Bafflegabbed said...

Dear SmarterThanCongress,

Japan's "Liberal Democratic Party", despite it's name, is actually the conservative party. No joke, they are most comparable to our country's Republicans. A simple Wikipedia search will reveal this in the first sentence on the party's page. But if you don't trust Wikipedia, search a little further and you'll get the same description of the LDC on any other website.

That said, the difference between Japan's failed stimulus package and ours, is that Japan has almost no natural resources and therefore had to invest in what would become the late '90s tech bust. America's stimulus bears no resemblance to Japan's.

Also., coming very soon to a computer near you!

Desman said...

Oh yeah? Did you read the part where it says, " machines that help keep the party in power?"

Bafflegabbed said...

While that's certainly sad to see. I don't think one party will ever be able to criticize another for that without being hypocritical. Unfortunately, it's what Washington does, no matter who's in charge.

One's party affiliation might as well boil down to a decision on which entities they think are more worthy of being "greased" and which party does that greasing.

Desman said...

Moral equivalency. That's what the liberal American press says about the Hamas - Israel conflict. It has the same validity in a discussion of democrats - conservatives.

akates said...

What? Again, who said anything about Israel? It does not have the same validity, because they're two totally different issues.

Do you mean: When republicans "grease vote-buying machines," it's less morally reprehensible than when democrats "grease vote-buying machines?"