Apotropaics for political revenants
Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, June 27, 2012
FACED with the existential challenge of Small Government/Big Liberty politicians who are both successful and popular, the default strategy of the left-of-centrists is to make up stuff. One of the first fables off the shelf is that their crypto-fascist policies have made everyone except the uber-rich poorer. The script is then airtubed over to their co-conspirators in the mass media for dissemination as The Truth offered in the form of infotainment. This long-observed universal phenomenon also exists in Japan.
Former Finance Ministry bureaucrat Takahashi Yoichi, who served in the Koizumi and Abe administrations and is now an advisor to Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru and Your Party, fired off a series of fact-Tweets recently to counter still-circulating myths. They will be of interest to people with open minds.
Some people still believe that the income gap grew during the Koizumi administration. That’s just Democratic Party propaganda the mass media picked up.
Some people adhere to the belief that national income declined during the Koizumi and Abe years, when I served in the Kantei, but that lie has been exposed. It grew by about JPY 15 trillion. The national income in trillions of yen from 2001 to 2010 was as follows:
According to the government’s official statistics from its 2008 report on income redistribution, the Gini Coefficient for income redistribution was as follows:
2002: (First full Koizumi year) 0.3812
There are no figures showing an expansion of the income gap during the Koizumi years.
The phrase “income gap” was still used during the first days of the new Democratic Party government. Starting with the Kan Administration, however, the phrase disappeared from policy speeches and statements. Anyone who talks now about growing income gaps during the Koizumi years would be laughed at.
Using facts in discussions of this sort is somewhat like holding up a cross to a vampire. It won’t convert them, but it will send them screaming from the room.
One popular strategy when the facts don’t work is novel interpretations. I ran across one a few days ago written by Okamoto Hiroaki, who describes himself as a company president in Vancouver. (He writes in Japanese.) Mr. Okamoto wrote a blog post presenting his ideas on the current political crisis in Japan, which was picked up by the Agora website. Here is his conclusion:
“I think this is a good opportunity to confirm once again what a real leader should be — not someone like former Prime Minister Koizumi, who had supporters like a show business personality’s fan club and who was popular among housewives because he was single and articulate.”
Extend the logic of this statement and it will inevitably terminate at the presumption that communication skills are not important for a national leader, and the political opinions and ideas of middle-aged housewives are not as important as…company presidents who blog, among other wallahs.
When a prime minister stakes his political career on legislation by holding a lower house election before it gets passed — in effect, a national referendum — wins the second-largest majority in postwar history, and leaves office a year later with a 70% approval rating, he’s more than just beefcake for bored, middle-aged housewives.
Might it have had something to do with his efforts to get the government out of the post office business, and get the post office out of the banking and life insurance business? And that these efforts had the added benefit of forcing the government to deal with their deficits in some way other than using the money in those accounts to purchase government bonds? Or that he cut the nation’s budget deficit in half during his term, reduced public works construction projects, rescued a banking system swamped by post-bubble non-performing debt, and started privatizing other quasi-public companies?
In other words, he did things that drove the National Government-Political Complex crazy. Of course they had to neuter all of them.
People often say that a country “could do worse than” choosing a specific person as its leader. Looking at the national governments since Mr. Koizumi’s departure, it is apparent that the country has already done a lot worse. Looking at the potential leadership candidates at the national level today, it is apparent that they will keep doing worse for the foreseeable future.
But some people would rather go blind than see.