Opinion

The Edgy Optimist

I think we’re turning Japanese, I really hope so

By Zachary Karabell
February 22, 2013

Why the U.S. would be lucky to become Japan.

By Zachary Karabell

Over the past few years, it’s become ever more common to hear comparisons between the United States and Japan. They are not favorable. They come in the form of dark warnings that the current policies of the United States will lead to a fate similar to Japan’s over the past 20 years: stagnant growth with no end in site.

Let’s just say for the moment that the United States is becoming Japan – a nation of little to no economic growth, high public debt and a broken financial system. How bad is that? Is becoming Japan really a worst-case scenario?

The past 20 years for Japan have been called the lost decades. Government debt is in excess of 200 percent of GDP. The country has suffered from chronic deflation, a sluggish job market, an aging population, an insular culture and growth stalled at between 1 percent and 2 percent a year. Governments have come and gone. What’s most notable is that until recently, Japan has rarely been at the forefront of economic news the way it was in the 1980s and 1990s, even though it is the world’s third-largest economy and one of its wealthiest. If you factor in deflation, Japan hasn’t just seen tepid growth; it has seen none: Nominal economic output has barely budged since 1992.

Now we look at the United States and see…mounting government debt burdens, deflation, slow growth, a blech labor market and political sclerosis. And that does sound awfully Japan-like.

Except that it isn’t, because that isn’t the entire story of Japan. Yes, those numbers are factually correct, but they paint a dire picture that doesn’t square with today’s reality. First all, Japan is not just a country that for 20 years has had higher debt, no growth and less global impact. It is one whose citizens are in extremely good health, with the third-highest life expectancy in the world after tiny Macau and Monaco, which means for all intents and purposes it has the highest in the world. It Levels of violence are low. Democratic government is orderly and ordered, and a technocratic and efficient bureaucracy attends to issues such as public safety, infrastructure, education, housing and healthcare with a high level of competence and efficiency. The country is peaceful; its citizens are prosperous. And while defense forces are bulking up in anticipation of tension with China, it has dramatically ended a culture of war that dominated society until 1945.

So if the United States is becoming Japan, why, exactly, is that a fate to be avoided at all costs? Why is a long-term future of social stability, affluence and effective day-to-day governance where most citizens have good educations, decent healthcare, adequate housing and nourishment, and do not go about their days fearful about their personal security something to fret over? For the entire recorded (and probably unrecorded) history of humanity, such a scenario would not have been a fate to fear but a utopia.

That we view it instead as a failed experiment and a broken economy and a perilous example of what might await the United States says much about our expectations and our fears. Apparently, sustainable prosperity is not sufficient.

Instead there must be endless and hyper-charged growth. Debt is viewed as inherently unsustainable. Though very high levels of public debt have yet to cause a dramatic implosion in Japan, that is chalked up to high levels of personal savings, which Americans lack. In essence, Japan’s debt stability is explained away as a product of the government borrowing recklessly from frugal consumers. Doubters say low growth is not tenable over the long term (though it has apparently been tenable in Japan for 20 years), even if the alternative isn’t higher growth but severe contraction. Social stability, good public services and general level of affluence count for little.

The degree to which those positives are discounted or dismissed is troubling. Of course, many Japanese are deeply disenchanted with their own economic model, largely because it has ceased to evolve and adapt, especially with China rising just across the sea. But the disdain for Japan in the United States coupled with the view that life there is a disaster demonstrates that our ambitions for what we should achieve economically may be blinding us to more prosaic but stable outcomes.

Yes, it would be more desirable for the U.S. economic system to evolve and exhibit dynamism and innovation that benefit the many and the not the few. But rejecting a path of lower and slower growth accompanied by higher levels of health, education and social well being while simultaneously ratcheting up the level of hysteria about collapse does us no particular good.

In fact, those expectations may be doing us particular harm; it may be a classic case of letting the great be the enemy of the good. If Japan is indeed a worst-case scenario for the United States, we should stop for a day and celebrate our good fortune that the future in store is so stable, so conducive to living productive and secure lives. Japan may be something the United States actually aspires to if things go astray over the next decade: The Japanese at least have a strong commitment to social safety nets, which still meet with divisive ambivalence in America. Those nets, frayed as they are, do keep a lid on social unrest.

Our inability to embrace a status like Japan’s as an acceptable albeit less desirable outcome is a greater challenge, because it makes a true resemblance less likely. We may indeed be in for a decade during which we mimic Japan statistically; let’s hope we can live with that socially. If not, there are much worse fates one can imagine.

Comments
38 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

After the war we were raised to hate the Japanese (and the Russians, and the Nazi-but not the West Germans). We, in turn, taught our children. Fortunately enough some of them neglected to pass it on for a further generation and we have seen a break in the hate clouds somewhat.
I agree with you, Zachary. I live in Japan. The US could certainly do well to employ some of these lessons. But it cannot… and exactly for the same reasons that I just laid out: We teach it to our kids, and our neighbor’s kids, and our employees, and our Church members, and even random people on the subway.
The public education system (which goes beyond classrooms to television, cinema, pool halls, bowling alleys, the workplace) teaches our kids and, literally, enforces their behavior. Whatever attitudes being taught today are, they will continue throughout the society for a very long time,,,and even facts or the truth takes a very long time to weave itself into the fabric of our culture (or back out).
The United States, for instance, still teaches that the Japanese and the Germans were to fault for the Second World War and does not share blame for the oil embargo they placed on Japan that caused them to retaliate by bombing Pearl Harbor. So until EVERYONE confesses the truths and stops blaming current generations for the past, NONE of us will move forward. There will be no “winners”, and our own Grandchildren will be the victims in this perpetual war to tell the biggest lies, just as we were after “The Big One”.

Posted by ennymousse | Report as abusive
 

“Democratic government is orderly and ordered, and a technocratic and efficient bureaucracy attends to issues such as public safety, infrastructure, education, housing and healthcare with a high level of competence and efficiency.”

Seriously? Japan has chewed through 6 prime ministers in 5 years. Each of them has suffered through scandals and public discontent of various degrees. I don’t know precisely what picture those facts are painting (given the fickle nature of the Japanese voters) but ‘efficient’ and ‘competence’ is certainly not part of it.

Hold off on the Japan-cheerleading for a moment and realize that you are only seeing half of the picture when it comes to the Japanese society. There is also a significant and negative dark side that is less seen and more obscured. Behind the facade of politeness, lawfulness and order lies a obsessively homogenous society. Even their politicians have unabashedly stated as much in public forums but I digress. Anyway, that in itself is a direct contradiction of the multi-cultural, immigrant influenced american society.

Secondly, perhaps you should look into how Japanese treat other East Asians living in the country. They usually won’t openly denegrate you while maintaining their public manners, Ukyo Dantai excluded, but as the old cliche goes, action speaks louder than words. Do some research on just how many women are trafficked into Japan to serve in their massive sex trade industry. Then find out what ethnicities most of them are and why the Japanese government has mostly turned a blind eye to these offenses. When a Japanese businessman (married or otherwise) goes overseas trip to another asian nation, it is as much for sex tourism as it is for business. You may think that this is an overly generalized exaggeration but hold on. Simply take a trip to Shanghai, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and see just how many of such businesses rely on Japanese patronage. It has grown to be so rampent that several nations have already asked Japanese corporations to fire these employees, send them back to Japan and deny them any sort of travel Visa for several years.

Becoming another Japan is indeed the *worst* case scenario for American, and there is little possible spin to it.

Posted by blah77 | Report as abusive
 

The author does not seem to account for the differences in Japanese and US cultures. Nor does he comment on the fact that Japan depends on the US Military to provide stability in the region. All in all, a rather shallow article that is apparently another attempt to redefine the current lack of recovery as the new normal. Having the US end up like Japan would be a disaster for world stability.

Posted by stevedebi | Report as abusive
 

@blah77,

A democratic government can be “orderly and ordered” and still survive leaders who are less than perfect. Those of America in recent years do not impress me with either their efficiency or competence. We have to make our political choices from those actually available, and sometimes that choice is between BAD and WORSE.

Any “multi-cultural, immigrant influenced society” as ever emerges in America will be at the expense of the values and work ethic that built the ONLY world economy of sufficient economic strength and productivity to defend the flame of freedom. We have pulled the fat of others out of the fires of dictators and tyrants again and again, and yet we are more hated than loved for all that Americans have done and borne the primary expense.

Most who complain today about the relatively homogeneous society of America’s past have yet to show meaningful benefit to our our overall “quality of life” from the unrelenting brown invasion of unwelcome, unskilled economic parasites from all countries south of our border and our home-grown minority “welfare class”.

Be careful what you wish for. You may not like it when you get it,

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

For whatever it is, Japan is a democracy, and China is not… The arising 21st century global axises are becoming clearer if you look at it trough this prism, where China and Russia are taking the lead on one side, and the US, Japan and Europe on the other.

Posted by UauS | Report as abusive
 

“largely because it has ceased to evolve and adapt”.

That is the definition of decadence. The Rose is about to fall off it’s stem.

If the entire world economic system, with the exception of China and Russia, are brushing against massive burdens of debt from past consumption and productivity losses, and the world economy doesn’t seem to need as many human employees unless they too incur massive private debt to gain educations to enter it. What is the world economy a lesson in? Work to reap an anti-wealth?

I’m never sure what is more important in modern economies: the cash capital of what it accomplishes?

This article also ignores the fact that in spite of the fact that Japan in so much more highly burdened with public debt (Zimbabwe being the worst case by very few percentage points difference) this paper and many comments gloat over the relatively less burdened southern European countries and their painful debt issues. Out foreign policy also wants to see the established regimes we don’t approve go under the same burden of debt to the developed economies to repair post “liberation” reconstruction and become more desperate for the dubious efficacy of our own, sometimes fraudulent economic might?

Is debt the new bomb? The entire world is being enmeshed in an economic system that has the ability to guarantee mutually assured destruction? Is it the reverse of the neutron bomb: it takes out the inanimate and leaves us, the animate, to shiver in the ruins?

Or does an economic system emulate the physics of electrical or water currents? Does it have to flow from positive to negative polls or from states of higher pressure to lower, or it ceases altogether? That’s what Fernand Braudel used to say. But he said it with so many better examples than Reagan’s watered down trickle down theory. Water may flow form reservoir to fountain but so can wastewater.

All the past economic systems are disgraced and inadequate for the future. All of them must somehow evolve very quickly to new global conditions and they can’t seem to do that. Or some kind of “natural selection” will do it for us. There’s an awful lot of pressure building and the blow out could be devastating. It is also obvious that the sophistication and complexity of the world economy leaves a growing number of people so very vulnerable and ignorant that it is arguable that there is any such thing as evolution, development or even human progress as promised by any world government or economic system and that all systems need some kind of carpet to sweep the dust under and that even systems that tout freedom also need slaves?

That horrible lurch to something else does seem to characterize human development. Education does make people more sensitive and more demanding and that is exactly what it’s supposed to do.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive
 

Excellent article. Japan and South Korea are great examples of what happens in a economic system that depends purely on growth. South Korea will end up the same way Japan and the US did. I think the vast majority of people that believe that we should not follow Japan have skin in the game and don’t want the game to end until just after they get their share. Global economics has changed the game, but those same people will continue to deny it as long as possible. They need to for self-justification to continue on what is an obviously disastrous path for our country. Never ending growth can only be attained at the expense of others
We should take the lead and try to adapt our economic system to the fact that growth will now be in the emerging nations and maintaining and improving is needed in the already developed countries.
I guess I agree with this author in most regards on this topic.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

Another thing America could learn from Japan: How to stick together as a culture.

Immigration is destroying the American middle class.

Look at the rest of the world.

Japan was an unpopulated group of islands until its first human inhabitants arrived from China. But then it began to develop on its own, just as America did.

Quite striking, of course, is the fact than Japan rose to prominence among human cultures because it was, like England, an island nation, but even more remote, and compared to other countries, had almost zero later immigration.

Japan, the land of the gods, grew such a strong culture, admired around the world, because it was not constantly disturbed by immigrations.

That is the exact opposite of, say, India, which has constantly, throughout its history, been disturbed by immigrations. Including its immigrants, India today has a population of 1.17 billion people, compared to Japan’s 128 million.

India has had migration after migration from every direction. It is made up of Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists, Christians, just to start.

India, the land made of immigrants, has literally dozens of languages, and great corruption. Everybody speaking a different language, worshiping a different god, fighting with each other.

Yet Japan, with a population only one-tenth the size of India’s, has a GDP 4 times as big as India.

Japan, the island nation, protected from immigrations, is a cohesive culture, very high economic production, high per-capita incomes and wages, and the lowest crime rate in the world.

So America should ask itself, do we want to remain a strong culture, like Japan, or do we want to allow immigrations from all directions, and end up like India, with low wages, corruption and chaos?

Posted by AdamSmith | Report as abusive
 

“The degree to which those positives are discounted or dismissed is troubling.”

They’re not discounted, they’re just outweighed by the negatives. Without economic growth, opportunities for individuals are limited. The ending of a “culture of war” was at the point of a gun (ours), and has resulted in a military dependency upon us. For all intents and purposes, they are militarily a client of the USA. Precisely what power is the USA to rely upon as a military umbrella if we were to become like Japan. . .or does the author really believe that the vacuum created by the weakening of the USA’s military might would not immediately be exploited by various other nascent (and ambitious) powers in the world, already waiting in the wings? We can make the decision not to make war on others, but even if were to do so, would it mean no one else would choose to make war on our interests? Of course not.

I see many here touting Japan’s low crime rate. They should investigate the reasons for it. A judge conducts a trial, determines guilt, and passes sentence. There is no jury of peers, requiring a unanimous determination of guilt for criminal cases. It is difficult to see that system accepted by the American populace.

I don’t think the author really thought this article through very well.

Posted by Yashmak | Report as abusive
 

I think the Author is expressing how in the grand scheme of things, Japans current economic situation is just another forest. Only as frightening as the one we’re in right now. It has a few different types of trees, but it is still just another forest. Many of the commenters and “lay” people are saying that the discussion doesn’t move the tree they’ve been stuck behind for so long, so why care? They just want to move the tree and filter all ideas based on that goal.

We can’t force perpetual growth just to sustain 5% of the population at the point of a gun. Whether that be a military, financial, or economic gun.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

“Any “multi-cultural, immigrant influenced society” as ever emerges in America will be at the expense of the values and work ethic that built the ONLY world economy of sufficient economic strength and productivity to defend the flame of freedom.”

The arrogance and lack of the historical perspective of that passage is simply astounding. Have you forgotten that since the founding of America, there had been four major immigration waves? The first being the original Pilgrims from England, hoping to escape a repressive organized religious system. The second wave lasted from 1820-1870, primarily involving the Irish and Germans escaping famine and economic malaise respectively. The third wave was from 1880-1920 and it was also the most diverse period. Major groups such as the Italians, Russians, Chinese, and various Scandanavian nations were all well represented. The fourth is of course the current hispanic/asian driven one. Let us also not forgot the fifth and hidden immigration wave, being the black African slaves. Despite all of these facts, you chose to solely focus on the latest wave only. How do you know which way the latest wave will turn out when it took decades, if not a century, for the previous waves to integrate and develop into their own distinct American persona? Your short sightedness is presumptuous to say the least. You can ignore or be in denial all day long but it does not change the fact that America is a nation that was built on the foundation of immigration. That is distinctly different from Japan regardless of era.

With regards to your quip regarding ‘America’s homogenous society’, that is a fantasical delusion which has once again ignored historical facts. The last time America had a relatively ‘homogenous society’, slave owning was popular and the British briefly occupied Washington DC. The time period I am speaking of is of course, the early 1800s. Referring back to the four major immigration waves I spoke about in the above paragraph, that ‘homogenous society’ was quickly altered by the influx of Germans, many of whom were Catholic or Jewish. And they didn’t even speak a word of English. Does that qualify as a ‘homogenous society’ in any shape or form?

You folks who spoke so negatively regarding immigration should look at your own family bloodline and realize that you are in fact, denegrating yourself. Or perhaps this is strictly a matter of ‘white immigrants are okay but coloreds are not’?

Posted by blah77 | Report as abusive
 

“Quite striking, of course, is the fact than Japan rose to prominence among human cultures because it was, like England, an island nation, but even more remote, and compared to other countries, had almost zero later immigration.

Japan, the land of the gods, grew such a strong culture, admired around the world, because it was not constantly disturbed by immigrations.”

This is a gross oversimplification. Despite the lack of large immigration waves, Japan was not an isolationist nation that developed almost entirely on its own merit. The only period when Japan made it a policy to close itself off to foreigners and their influence was the 200 years period after the Toyotomi (later Tokugawa) shogunate unified the country back in 1630′s. As any historian would know, it was due to those policies that Japan began to fall far behind Europe and even China under early Qing dynasty. Frankly, Commodore Perry and the Meiji restoration is what brought the Japanese back up.

Secondly regarding your “rose to prominence among human cultures” statement, even if true, history would suggest that it was far from an ‘indigenous’ achievement. Japan despite its low immigration rate did adopt a lot of foreign ideas, culture and technologies. The obvious indicators of Buddhist and Confucianist influences aside, their own written and spoken language was borrowed heavily from the Tang dynasty Chinese. More recently, specifically during the last 150 years, they have been focused on importing western technologies and ideas. Japan has traditionally been active in importing outside information and then modifying it to suit their own cultural distinctiveness, often times heavily.

As for your final question. No, I personally would not want America to become like Japan culturally, not if it involves some forms of xenophobia, obsession with homogeneity and racism with regards to our neighbors. Let me put this another way, if we truly wanted to become like Japan culturally, first we would have to erect statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and William Calley next to the Washington Monument. After all, it is only fair to properly imitate the unabashed inclusion of Hideki Tojo or Iwane Matsui within their Yasukuni shrine, a national monument equal in stature to any of ours.

Posted by blah77 | Report as abusive
 

“I see many here touting Japan’s low crime rate. They should investigate the reasons for it. A judge conducts a trial, determines guilt, and passes sentence. There is no jury of peers, requiring a unanimous determination of guilt for criminal cases. It is difficult to see that system accepted by the American populace.”

All good points but I have one additional thing to add. Japan has outlaw almost all forms of private firearms ownership. Their gun ownership rate is 0.6 per 100 compared to our 88 per 100. Good luck in adapting a Japanse system indeed.

Posted by blah77 | Report as abusive
 

“A democratic government can be “orderly and ordered” and still survive leaders who are less than perfect.”

Forgot to address this part. Did you know that a lot of Japanese people are actually embarrassed with their government? If you think corporate/special interst influence, plutocracy and cronyism is bad in modern American politics (which it is), just do some research on ‘zaibatsu’ or ‘keiretsu’. I’ll give you a shortened version. Cronyism in Japan has became so bad, it is now an *inherent* part of Japanese politics.

You know, I have read a lot of foreign policy think-tank and researcher reports discussing the current state of the Japanese government. Let’s just say that descriptions such as orderly, efficient and competent are rarely seen. This blog being one of the few exceptions, assuming that I believe the author is an *expert* on Japan which I do not given his rather naive and surface-level review of Japan. Instead, I see the words ‘dysfunctional’ or ‘paralyzed’ far more often with regards to Japanese politics. As further illustration, let’s go back to the 6 prime ministers in 5 years point I brought up earlier. What does that mean to you? To me it means that there is little policy continuation. To me it means that there is little or no consensus within the ruling party. To me it means that the government has essentially lost the trust of the people. Those indicators do not even come close to the literal description of orderly, efficiency and competence. Not even within 1000 miles in fact.

The funny thing is, while folks here are glorifying the ‘Japanese way’, their citizens are often saying things like; “I wish we had a good government like you do in America”. Just like the spirit behind this blog, the grass is always greener on the other side I suppose.

Posted by blah77 | Report as abusive
 

“Another thing America could learn from Japan: How to stick together as a culture.”

What ‘culture’ are you referring to? Isn’t the American culture an amalgamation and modification of various foreign elements? Do some people not celebrate Oktoberfest (German)? Do some people not celebrate Saint Patrick’s day (Irish)? Do some people not celebrate Saint Valentines Day (Latin/English)? Even the American Christmas icon Santa Claus was an adaptation of a Scandanavian (even pagan) tradition/figure. Do we not also have little Italy’s and Chinatown’s sprinkled across our urban landscape? What about places like Chipotle, Taco Bell, KFC and hundreds of others *fusion* type restaurants that can be found in just about every mid sized to major city? Yes, we should eliminate all of these elements which were clearly adopted from foreigners/immigrants. *shakes head* As ignorant an argument as I have seen in a long time.

No, I suspect that the culture you are referring is just *your* type of culture. Whether that involves going to churches, shooting guns, hunting, or popping a 6-pack while watching a NFL game I do not know but I do know one thing. *Your* culture is not an uniformally applicable one that all Americans must accept.

Posted by blah77 | Report as abusive
 

with all the Chinese advances and Japanese stagnation, what you’d rather buy: ‘Made in China’ or ‘Made in Japan’?
any questions?..

Posted by UauS | Report as abusive
 

What bugs me about this article is it glosses over an extremely important fact: Japan’s population is shrinking while America’s is growing at over 1% per year. If Japan’s economy is roughly flat and has no inflation then it’s GDP on a per capita basis is still growing! Meanwhile America needs to grow over 3% per year just to keep ahead of inflation and population… In fairness, part of the article mentioned debt, and in that context the Japanese situation is far worse.

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive
 

@blah77,

I guess if you can’t convince with facts and logic, you intend to “prevail” by burying us in words? It is YOUR breathtaking ignorance and presumption that is thus revealed for all to see. Your sweeping and totally incorrect assumptions and presumptions are predominantly “straw man” arguments. Look it up.

I am well aware that America’s “homogeneous society” of today is the product of countless LEGAL immigrants, and that each encountered prejudice and resistance that was, by today’s standards, inappropriate. But you seem ignorant that these LEGAL immigrants wanted nothing more than to become Americans. They arrived in numbers that could assimilate into the existing society without diluting it’s fundamental values. They arrived when a strong back and the willingness to work hard was all that was necessary to eventually succeed.

Today America has idiots in positions of authority who have for decades refused to enforce America’s immigration laws ON THE BOOKS. Such inaction has had the effect of hanging a “WELCOME” sign at our southern border. To stop that nonsense, “we, the people” (legal CITIZENS all), “struck a deal” back in the eighties to give some THREE MILLION PLUS economic parasites that had strolled into OUR country from all countries south illegally AMNESTY. All “parties” eagerly agreed this would be a ONE TIME DEAL!

Our “reward” has been ELEVEN to TWENTY MILLION MORE of the same source economic parasites. We have found that they breed at a rate that would make a rabbit blush and they have little, if any, inclination to assimilate into our society.

Did America have to teach school in Gaelic, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Swahili or Scandinavian languages in our schools to educate earlier immigrants? NO! These peoples immediately set about learning English because each and every one of them wanted to be American so much some even changed their names!

It is YOU that is talking about “bloodlines”, “white immigrants” and “coloreds”, not me. My description of an “unrelenting brown invasion” is but simple fact. They are not white, red, yellow, green, blue or black. They are essentially different shades of brown. They have NO right to come here, and no right to remain here with their “American” children.

What do they “bring to the party”? Nothing. For the most part these are the dregs of their societies, without meaningful education, experience, skill, money, land, contacts or jobs waiting. They use false documents easily purchased from “dealers” in most barrio areas to get hired, collect unemployment, welfare, medicaid, etc. Some literally steal identities of “real” citizens. This bunch intends to OVERWHELM America’s existing society, and makes no effort to conceal that.

They use our hospital Emergency departments for neonatal clinics and minor ailments that American citizens must go to a doctor for (and pay a much lesser rate). They fill our schools with delinquents and our prisons with sociopaths. They take America’s jobs and money and send much of it south out of the country to our economy’s loss.

When you say “…I personally would not want America to become like Japan culturally, not if it involves some forms of xenophobia, obsession with homogeneity and racism with regards to our neighbors”, you presume what YOU think is important. Only when it is reasonably factual or credible. The Japanese criminal justice system or their attitude towards gun ownership have relevance here only in YOUR mind.

Why should Americans care whether or not “…a lot of Japanese people are actually embarrassed with their government?” I am not alone in being aghast at the sheer incompetence and inefficiency of today’s American federal government. ‘Dysfunctional’ or ‘paralyzed’ would be appropriate words of description. So what? Straw man.

Your speculative rant about “culture” is perhaps the most silly because even YOU admit you don’t know precisely what to complain about. You have NO CLUE as to “my culture” but you object all over the map anyway.

The “American culture” of MY reference is that which exists. It is what LEGAL American citizens have made it. They’re not about to let a bunch of “johnny come latelys” remake it to their own benefit and personal preference.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

@OOTS,
First, no one is arguing illegal anything. Just the broken record @Adam_Smith.
@Blah77 was answering the cut and paste annoyance of his rants that make no sense, just show his anger at the world. He is relentless in his posts and tries to corral every conversation into his pet peeve (his tree in the forest). I find it as egregious as Pete Murphy using the opinions for advertising.
Thanks you @Blah77 for trying to dispelling most of the ridiculous angst.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

@stevedbi – that’s exactly what I was thinking Steve about this being another article about the democrats trying to redefine a new normal.

Posted by jorge62 | Report as abusive
 

@stevedbi – that’s exactly what I was thinking Steve about this being another article about the democrats trying to redefine a new normal.

Posted by jorge62 | Report as abusive
 

@stevedbi – that’s exactly what I was thinking Steve about this being another article about the democrats trying to redefine a new normal.

Posted by jorge62 | Report as abusive
 

@stevedbi – that’s exactly what I was thinking Steve about this being another article about the democrats trying to redefine a new normal.

Posted by jorge62 | Report as abusive
 

@stevedbi – that’s exactly what I was thinking Steve about this being another article about the democrats trying to redefine a new normal.

Posted by jorge62 | Report as abusive
 

@stevedbi – that’s exactly what I was thinking Steve about this being another article about the democrats trying to redefine a new normal.

Posted by jorge62 | Report as abusive
 

@tmc,

Beg to differ. blah77 paints with such a broad brush that there is no distinction is made between legal immigrants and illegal alien would-be parasites. That distinction is of pivotal importance to America’s cultural and economic future.

There should be no stigma on those, regardless of race, who apply to this country for citizenship that timely comply with those civil rules and procedures as have been duly adopted and remain applicable to such process. But “blah” wants millions of unqualified invaders with forever open palms to be “embraced” without question as Americans that don’t even know what it IS to be American.

Whole different question, whole different argument, whole different debate, whole different answer. NO!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

I like your point of view @paintcan.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

I don’t think illegal immigration from Mexico and south has much influence anymore on jobs and the lack there of, nor of the hollowing out and off-shoring. Its impact is minimal now and shrinking. Trying to bring back growth to US economy is a pipe dream for next decade and beyond. We, along with Japan, should look to new economic theories to keep the economy from collapsing.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

Basically OOTS, AdamSmith, we’re getting our butts kicked in the global economy and it’s darn sure not because we have to many brown gardener’s now is it?

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

What the US is turning is North Korean, where the working people have nothing, the politicians rule as dictators, and few top people own everything.

Posted by americanguy | Report as abusive
 

Are you wilfully missing the point? If the US (& west in general) goes down Japan’s pretty dire economic path, that does not mean the social stability and societal strength of Japan will miraculously appear in the West.

Economic weakness puts an extra strain on society (one reason some Japanese live so long is their relatives don’t report their death in order to keep on claiming their pension).

Our societies, faced with Japan’s economic problems, would just weaken further. We would not cope nearly so well as Japan has done.

Posted by Dafydd | Report as abusive
 

It amazes me how literal everyone is. The broad scope of the article was to encourage the reader to look beyond statistical economic data to the quality of life of the people that live in a nation. Clearly Japan has as many issues to work out as we do in the U.S., only they are in many cases different issues. Let us learn from their successes with safety nets and the overall health of their citizens. Clearly we could use some help in the health department!

As for all of you “brown invasion” types, regardless of your personal opinions about immigrants legal or otherwise, human ideas and laws cannot turn the tides. Humans are a force of nature. When people decide to migrate en mass, it just happens. Starting in 1492 Europeans began flowing to North America. Once that process began, there was no stopping it.

Posted by CanyonLiveOak | Report as abusive
 

@tmc thanks. I’m just having a hard time squaring this article with all those condemning the laziness, political corruption, and the frequent assertions that the European debtor nations are too socialized.

Why is too much government debt good for Japan but bad for Greece, Italy, France, Spain or even the US?

Somehow the books of all these nations have to make some kind of sense or why keep the books? Individuals and businesses can be ruined by bad bookkeeping but somehow very heavily populated and industrialized states can get away with the same over spending? The industrial nature of Japan – is that the difference? Or is it their enormous holdings of American debt?

Then why shouldn’t the troubled European economies continue with their policies tailored to their own social needs? Why shouldn’t the US continue to do the same as it’s doing?

I think that OOTS underestimates the fact that the “work ethic” may be becoming a luxury ethic and employment is increasingly becoming the privilege of the employed. That’s exactly what it looked like every time I got out of school and was looking for employment in an architectural office. They always wanted at least three years experience in an architectural office. In other words: the three years were always the unreachable three years unless you could get the three years.

BTW – Did you notice the video on the Japanese deconstruction of an office building here a few days ago? The building was being systematically disassembled under cover of a false facade that was lowered as the high rise was shrinking. I can’t imagine how that method is ever going to be popular because it raises the cost of demolition enormously and that cost will have to be absorbed into the costs of the new structure.

It is a splendid piece of make-work though.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive
 

unemployment hides inflation…..
low interest rates destroy the middle class…
special interests supersede the common good…

Amerika..or Japan..?

Posted by rikfre | Report as abusive
 

@OOTS

My, what a tirade regarding those ‘south of border parasites’. Your naivity, hypocrisy and rather overt brown xenophobia is showing. Do you actually believe that the earlier waves of immigation I mentioned were all *legal*? Here are some facts for you to digest.

From 1892-1954, Ellis Island, our primary immigrant processing portal, received approximately 12-13 million new arrivals. Angel island, our other processing center for East Asian immigrants, recieved another 200k new arrivals from 1910-1940. On the other hand, the population of the U.S. grew from 63 million to more than 152 million during the same span (1890-1950). Either we Americans became ridiculously prolific at procreation or quite a few undocumented illegal immigrants were falling through the cracks. Use your common sense to figure out which explanation is more plausible. Now if common sense is not your forte, fear not as the history of illegal immigration prior to the Great Depression is widely documented and researched. All it takes is some effort to look it up.

With that said, I will reiterate again that your complaint regarding how latinos being unwilling to assimilate is short-sighted and without merit for the most part. True, some of them are not exactly the most productive members of society but most of them as you suggested? Just who is painting with a broad brushstroke now? Are you a first generation immigrant? Do you realize that it often takes generations for immigrants to become fully assimilated into their adopted environment. Your expectation of ‘get here today, assimilate tomorrow’ is unrealistic and sounds more like a contrived platform for you to launch your diatribes from. Fill in the blank; walk a mile ___________.

As for the rest of your post regarding my responses to other posters, I will attempt to keep it succinct.

1. Regarding your response to my comment about why I wouldn’t want America to become Japan culturally, uh, yes it is my opinion. I prefaced it as much by using the word ‘personally’. Reading comprehension is at the minimum *mildly* important in an argument, don’t you think? Secondly, my point IS supported by a lot of credible facts. There are plenty of evidentiary reports available whether it is regarding misogynic views (rampent human trafficking), obsession with homogenity (many well-publicized comments by top officials) or xenophobia (highly arbitrary/opaque immigration and naturalization policies). Would you care for some links?

2. Regarding your response my quip about Japanese being unsatisfied with their own government, again, reading comprehension. I would have thought that my ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ reference would have spelled out the context behind my argument rather clearly but I guess not. Now I am *not* saying that Japan is the worst country in the world or anything like that. However, the whole perspective of ‘becoming Japan is not bad’ by focusing on the positives (as illustrated by this blog) is little more than looking through rosed colored glasses.

3. Regarding your response to the American culture issue, thank you for proving my point. My entire argument was that there is no universally accepted definition for ‘American culture’ or ‘what it is to be an American’. You can ask 100 random people of all ethnicities/backgrounds on the streets only to come up with 100 different answers. Yet there you are, trying to define for hispanics what ‘being Americans’ mean for them and what ‘fundamental values’ they should hold. Arrogance and presumption.

Next time, do make the attempt to refrain from responding with such an emotionally-charged tirade regarding those ‘south of the border parasites’. Separating verbal diarrhea from actually relevant debate points is not something that I want to spend a lot of time on.

Posted by blah77 | Report as abusive
 

Oh, forgot to address one point you made.

“But “blah” wants millions of unqualified invaders with forever open palms to be “embraced” without question as Americans that don’t even know what it IS to be American.”

Right. What was that you accused me? Oh right, my *straw man arguments*. Help me with something. Just when did I say that I want to open our borders, discard our immigration policies and just let everyone and their mother in without question? Do quote me if you can.

No, what I am espousing is that we should let them come up with their own definition of ‘becoming American’. Immigration and American values isn’t a zero-sum game. Pragmatically speaking, they are *already here* so what unrealistic solution are you proposing anyway? Do you actually believe that your incendiary commentary is going to help them assimilate into our society? If anything it is entirely counterproductive and will only serve to push them further into the fringes.

Finally, whatever little money those illegals are sending home or in your own words, “our economy’s loss”, pales in comparison to the $21 trillion wealthy Americans have offshored in tax haven nations. That in turn is costing the U.S. roughly $280 billion in tax revenue *annually*. That is the elephant in the room, not a million illegals sending $100 USD a month to Mexico.

Posted by blah77 | Report as abusive
 

@blah (may I use your first name?),

If you don’t believe those first waves were mostly “legal”, please give links to supporting data. Otherwise, yeah, Americans were VERY prolific in developing territories…not much else to do back then, and children were an economic benefit to “subsistance farmers and ranchers”.

I said nothing about “get here assimilate tomorrow”. What I said was that all these other peoples accepted the challenge to learn and become proficient in English IN ENGLISH. I don’t see why “we, the people” have to pay for bilingual (Spanish) schools, government forms, booklets, etc. when all these other immigrants simply accepted the difficulty and overcame it.

The problem at present is perhaps that so many of these fence-jumpers aren’t even literate in their own language, and so they are disproportionately dependent on Spanish-speakers to attain preliminary literacy in ANY language. Not exactly the demographic any country would choose to admit, yet today our politicians want to open the floodgates to anyone warm and breathing.

Contrary to your ranting, I have not tried “to define for hispanics what ‘being Americans’ mean for them and what ‘fundamental values’ they should hold”. I have said, essentially, that it “is what it is” and thus need not be further defined. I am also suggesting,, in essence, that “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. That was as good an idea thousands of years ago as it remains today. But they clearly have not chosen to do that. Not my problem. Not my choice. Theirs.

I think the overall “thrust” of your “points” is very much in support of “open our borders, discard our immigration policies and just let everyone and their mother in without question”, particularly those already here.

What do I propose? I propose deporting each and every one no matter how long it takes or how long it takes. It’s like the picture of a drop-dead gorgeous woman next to a blood red Ferrari with the caption: “The car is cheaper by far”.

If a cow comes into the U.S. with a disease that is not yet here (mad cow), the feds have been able to not only determine the country of origin, the date it came in, and where it came in. I guess if we gave each illegal alien a cow as they come across the border we might be able to round them up later to deport.

I further propose mining our border from the Rio Grand inland a mile or so, taking title to that land at “fair value” by eminent domain. Mines don’t care what color a person is that is crossing illegally into the U.S. They’re cheap and after the first few, few would have to be replaced. Illegal immigration will stop instantly once it is obvious to all parties that America is serious about doing it. Bonus: less illegal drugs too, and U.S. citizens living along the border would sleep a lot better once their government does THEIR JOB!

The money legal citizen “Americans have offshored in tax haven nations” is THEIR money until proven otherwise to do with as they wish. It is for elected officials and their bureaucratic minions to halt this flow if it is to halt.

On the other hand, the money illegals send out of the country is not legally earned if they have no legitimately issued “green card”. It has not, in many cases, been subject to tax of any kind. It is “off the top” financial bleeding America need not accept or allow to continue. As usual, you compare apples and oranges.

“We, the people” have constitutionally guaranteed rights. Illegal aliens don’t.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

“may I use you first name” now that’s funny. I was rolling on that one. LMFAO!
btw- I do see all your point too @OOTS, but in my world, those were battles of a war in my childhood. I remember it well on my one black & white tv channel that we only received when the weather was good. Now I work in high tech as they say, and feel like I live in asia. Been to Princeton lately? But I believe Blah is quite correct that social engineering does not work, and it is humanities way to immigrate where and when they need to. if you look at any immigration as as a war, then you are fighting a war that cannot be won and will never end. I think the WOPR said it best “The only winning move is not to play”.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

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