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  1. 02 Dec '10 07:53
    I read somewhere recently how a Japanese buinessman, critical of his country's response to challenges in terms of economic stagnation, inhibited entrepreneurship, and it low fertility rate, among others, said that Japan is like a frog being boiled alive although thus far the water is only warm.

    Is this analogy apt? Does it apply to any other countries?
  2. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Dec '10 14:21
    Originally posted by John W Booth
    I read somewhere recently how a Japanese buinessman, critical of his country's response to challenges in terms of economic stagnation, inhibited entrepreneurship, and it low fertility rate, among others, said that Japan is like a frog being boiled alive although thus far the water is only warm.

    Is this analogy apt? Does it apply to any other countries?
    The same could be said for most western countries. Few countries have had decades of economic malaise like Japan, but enormous deficits, welfare policies that discourage entrepreneurship and hard work in general and certainly low fertility rates are the plagues of western Europe and even the US as well.

    Incidentally, according to Mythbusters, a frog ill jump out of the water before being boiled, though that's neither here nor there.
  3. 02 Dec '10 14:35
    Originally posted by sh76
    Incidentally, according to Mythbusters, a frog ill jump out of the water before being boiled, though that's neither here nor there.
    The frog will jump out of the water? In my analogous political analysis, the lid's on the pan then.

    The French and the Greeks have been banging their heads on the underside of the lid.
  4. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Dec '10 14:48
    Originally posted by John W Booth
    The frog will jump out of the water? In my analogous political analysis, the lid's on the pan then.

    The French and the Greeks have been banging their heads on the underside of the lid.
    Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but I don't think the lid's on the pan. A few common sense policy changes is all most countries need to break out of the malaise.
  5. 02 Dec '10 15:13
    Originally posted by sh76
    Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but I don't think the lid's on the pan. A few common sense policy changes is all most countries need to break out of the malaise.
    Japan will go from 120,000,000 to 90,000,000 in the next 40 years, 50% of which will be retired people (along with a dwindling proportion of kids) and the lid on the pan would perhaps be the Japanese cultural aversion to foreigners and migrant workers, and the unlikelihood of persuading the Japanese to have more kids when the pressures and expense of raising them are so prohibitive. I think Japan has got really big and really fundamental software problems lurking in its hardware. Dude.
  6. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Dec '10 15:52 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by John W Booth
    Japan will go from 120,000,000 to 90,000,000 in the next 40 years, 50% of which will be retired people (along with a dwindling proportion of kids) and the lid on the pan would perhaps be the Japanese cultural aversion to foreigners and migrant workers, and the unlikelihood of persuading the Japanese to have more kids when the pressures and expense of ra ...[text shortened]... Japan has got really big and really fundamental software problems lurking in its hardware. Dude.
    Yes, the lack of fertility is a major issue for not only Japan, but western Europe as well. The economic issues are much more easily remedied.

    BTW, no "dude"s in 3 posts until the very last words of the third post??

    What's up with that, dude?
  7. Standard member Soothfast
    0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,
    02 Dec '10 15:59
    Wait a minute -- why is it always taken as axiomatic that growth is good? Growth cannot go on forever. When it comes to population stagnation and even decline is good! The stresses on the environment are reduced, there's more open space and "breathing room," and food imports -- truly the ultimate national security risk -- become less critical. I wish to hell the U.S. population curve were destined to trend like Japan's is trending. I'm sick of the endless urban creep that's ruining all the open spaces, blotting out the stars with ever more light pollution, and generally sucking the marrow out of the land's bones and grasping always for more and more. Yes, having a large "graying" population is tough on the economy, but it's only temporary!

    And as for economic growth, in highly developed countries it does tend to be somewhat correlated to population growth. Japan's economic stagnation, as pro-growth wonks like to call it, is really just economic stability. Japan's population has been stable for decades, and correspondingly its economy has reached a plateau. What's wrong with that? Nothing, unless you subscribe to the seemingly unquestioned capitalist dogma that prosperity (defined in terms of commodity production and consumption, whether the commodities are needed or not) can only come with endless growth.
  8. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Dec '10 16:01
    Originally posted by Soothfast
    Wait a minute -- why is it always taken as axiomatic that growth is good? Growth cannot go on forever. When it comes to population stagnation and even decline is good! The stresses on the environment are reduced, there's more open space and "breathing room," and food imports -- truly the ultimate national security risk -- become less critical. I wish t ...[text shortened]... tion, whether the commodities are needed or not) can only come with endless growth.
    Population decline in a vacuum might not be so bad, but when you've built a social welfare system that depends on the young supporting subsidies for the old, having too few young people becomes disastrous.
  9. 02 Dec '10 16:51
    Originally posted by sh76
    Population decline in a vacuum might not be so bad, but when you've built a social welfare system that depends on the young supporting subsidies for the old, having too few young people becomes disastrous.
    Interestingly, I recently read - but can't now find the source again - that once Japanese women get married, they average about 2.3 children, or slightly over the replacement rate. But the average is driven downward by the enormous number of single, childless people in Japan. Thus, the problem is not so much the expense of childrearing as the expense of getting married - and, indeed, the difficulty of meeting partners in a culture which encourages punishing working hours.

    I think people in developed countries are growing increasingly resigned to raising the retirement age in order to keep the working age-dependent ratio relatively constant. I wonder too if any further mechanisation is possible to ensure that as working age populations fall, fewer workers are needed to support industry.
  10. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Dec '10 17:57
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Interestingly, I recently read - but can't now find the source again - that once Japanese women get married, they average about 2.3 children, or slightly over the replacement rate. But the average is driven downward by the enormous number of single, childless people in Japan. Thus, the problem is not so much the expense of childrearing as the expense of ge ...[text shortened]... e to ensure that as working age populations fall, fewer workers are needed to support industry.
    I would imagine 2.3 is fairly low for married women compared to most of the world. The replacement rate is 2.1, give or take. If the married women rate is 2.3, that's not enough to carry virtually any society over all above the replacement rate. There are going to be singles and childless people in every society.
  11. 02 Dec '10 18:54
    Originally posted by sh76
    Yes, the lack of fertility is a major issue for not only Japan, but western Europe as well. The economic issues are much more easily remedied.

    BTW, no "dude"s in 3 posts until the very last words of the third post??

    What's up with that, dude?
    But Western Europe has large immigrant populations (in my neighbourhood whites are a minority) and not the endemic corruption and government inefficiency that plagues Japan (or at least not to the same degree). The "debt crisis" is currently focused on Eurozone members, even though their finances are in much better shape than Japan's. Japan's economy has been horribly mismanaged for many decades and the looming demographic disaster means an economic meltdown is imminent. Or putting it less dramatically, a debt default and another decade of stagnation.
  12. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    02 Dec '10 19:22
    Originally posted by sh76
    Population decline in a vacuum might not be so bad, but when you've built a social welfare system that depends on the young supporting subsidies for the old, having too few young people becomes disastrous.
    Bring on the robots.
  13. 02 Dec '10 20:14
    Originally posted by sh76
    Population decline in a vacuum might not be so bad, but when you've built a social welfare system that depends on the young supporting subsidies for the old, having too few young people becomes disastrous.
    Indeed the problem, as it stands now stable or declining population numbers will mean an ageing population, which is the real problem due to the way our social system is set up. Long term this will probably happen though, the challenge will be to keep our standard of living with a lower percentage of the population able to work. The answer is probably what BDN hints at, productivity gains, every person working will have to produce more. Also, this should be good news for all of those complaining about unemployment, pretty soon we, as a society, won't be able to let able-bodied people do nothing anymore.
  14. Subscriber Wajoma
    Die Cheeseburger
    02 Dec '10 20:16
    Originally posted by sh76
    Population decline in a vacuum might not be so bad, but when you've built a social welfare system that depends on the young supporting subsidies for the old, having too few young people becomes disastrous.
    We need to breed more batteries to plug into the machine, perhaps an advertising campaign stating the real role of prospective humans.
  15. 02 Dec '10 20:49 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by John W Booth
    Japan will go from 120,000,000 to 90,000,000 in the next 40 years, 50% of which will be retired people (along with a dwindling proportion of kids) and the lid on the pan would perhaps be the Japanese cultural aversion to foreigners and migrant workers, and the unlikelihood of persuading the Japanese to have more kids when the pressures and expense of ra ...[text shortened]... Japan has got really big and really fundamental software problems lurking in its hardware. Dude.
    Perhaps its time for Japan to join the 21st century -- the previous century's myths of national purity are being replaced by multi-racial and multi-ethnic populations.