AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

L’etat c’est moi

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 26, 2009

ONE KEY FEATURE of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s political program is to exploit the government’s unused financial assets, excessive budget allocations, and waste in existing programs to ladle out the recovered largesse to various groups of the citizenry. Outside the party itself and its most ardent acolytes, however, there is a near unanimity of consensus on the impossibility of funding the schemes in the way it proposes for more than a year, if that long. But government subsidies enacted for political objectives have a way of lasting forever, unfortunately.

Gucci, Pucci, and Fiorucci for The People

Gucci, Pucci, and Fiorucci for The People

The success of the new Government’s efforts will hinge on their ability to tease out funds from money already earmarked for expenditure, including funds in the FY 2009 supplemental budget. That’s why Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio has asked all the Cabinet ministers to look for waste and extravagance in their budgets that can be diverted to the administration’s priorities. For example, it’s already been announced that the controversial manga museum project will be suspended. Mr. Hatoyama wants the ministers to submit their reports by 2 October.

Fukushima Mizuho, the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety, Social Affairs, and Gender Equality, and the chief of the minor coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party of Japan, this week held her first official meeting with the deputy minister and parliamentary secretary to examine those parts of the current FY supplementary budget for which she’s responsible to see if she can pry loose any of the money.

The 2 October deadline was more than enough time for them. In fact, it took them only three hours to conclude that every last yen in her ministry’s allocation was absolutely essential.

Now that’s governmental efficiency!

She later told the press:

“I am responsible for suicide prevention measures, strengthening local government consumer organizations, and support for domestic violence. Basically, there’s nothing to cut because the new Government is trying to achieve politics that put a priority on human life.”

Ms. Fukushima’s background is that of a radical leftist lawyer who has been associated with Marxist terrorist groups, and who heads the Party Formerly Known As The Socialists. Is it any surprise that she would consider all of the money in her ministry as a crucial asset for the public sector?

It’s axiomatic in politics that the farther left the politician, the more likely he is to believe that the rules and regulations that apply to everyone else don’t apply to his pet causes. Besides, we already know that the bureaucracy believes it needs all that money to spend on office space and furniture and transportation expenses and softball uniforms while it thinks about the ways it can help The People.

Does anyone doubt that given a 2 October deadline, any owner of a small or medium-sized business in Japan would be able to shake loose a substantial piece of change from that budget without disrupting any essential government services?

Does anyone doubt that if a neutral party with an interest in streamlining government were given a free hand, that white elephant of a ministry would be out of the Cabinet, its constituent elements broken up, their status downgraded to those of an agency or bureau, and their functions either consolidated or eliminated?

How quickly the pigs learn to walk on their hind legs!

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