Monday, October 17, 2011

Protestors March in Tokyo? Ho Hum...

Where have all the flowers gone? Or, "What ever happened to the good old days of real protests?"


I'm not condoning violent protests... Me being against violence and all... But this "peaceful protest" nonsense in New York and other places just doesn't work. People need to protest like the Europeans do. See Occupy Wall Street Protests Go Global. Turn Violent in Rome.


Of all the people who "just don't get it" today's Japanese takes the cake. When I first came to Japan, I worked at a company in Iidabashi. There, one day, communists and workers party people went on "strike." I was so surprised. Here was a country with a 1% unemployment rate and these people were going on strike.


Their chosen method of protesting authority? They put on headbands and sat at their desks for one hour that day, "on strike!" I would have thought it to be a useful strike had they did so during work hours, but they went on strike during their lunch hour.


No kidding. Five guys stood up from their desks. The leader barked some orders, the put on the headbands and sat back down at their desks during lunch. When the hour ended, they took off the headbands and went back to work.


That was the first workers protest I'd ever seen in Japan. It wasn't the last one... But, in my most certainly confused opinion, it continues in a long line of totally useless protests... 


Let's face it folks... The big bankers and the authorities and their lackies don't pay attention to you if you don't rattle their cages... Think about it; do bees and wasps care if you quietly walk by or do they get real excited if you hit their nests with sticks?


On the other hand, some Japanese used to know how to protest. They used to know how to get people's attention. Watch this protest against the construction of that disaster known as Narita International airport (you might have to log in as this video has age restrictions):




Woah! That's some heavy duty stuff. (the really heavy stuff starts at 2:20) I guess they don't make Japanese demonstrators and protestors like they used to... Of course, like I said, I'm not condoning violence.


The, ahem, big news today is that, in Tokyo, there was a protest supporting the Wall St. movement. It was a big farce too.


The Mainichi News reports:


Protesters march in Tokyo as Wall St. movement goes global
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- People took to the streets Saturday in Tokyo as the "Occupy Wall Street" movement to protest widening income disparities spread across the world, with similar rallies being held in Australia and Taiwan the same day.

......

About 100 people including children and senior citizens gathered in Tokyo's Hibiya Park and started marching around 12:30 p.m. toward the nearby government office quarter in Tokyo's Kasumigaseki district, waving placards bearing a variety of slogans.

Are you kidding me? 100 people? This is newsworthy? What a joke.

The demonstration was organized by a group called "Occupy Tokyo" founded a week ago.

"I was touched by the Wall Street movement," said Masaki Shoji, a 19-year-old freshman at Hosei University who participated in the demonstration.

Translation: "It seems trendy so I want to be a part of it. But it isn't a real protest. That would be too much work. We figure we could get together and carry placards and enjoy a nice walk on a Sunday!"

"Japanese are often seen as being unassertive, but I wanted to show that we can stand up as well."

Translation: The Japanese are unassertive, and I wanted to show that to be true." 

The demonstrators passed in front of the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled and radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, with some of them shouting, "Stop nuclear plants now."

Translation: Like I said, whatever is trendy at the moment works for us.

Chiyoharu Yamasaki, 64, said he came from Yokohama to protest nuclear power generation. "I am surprised that there aren't very many young people taking part," he said.

Right! We are talking about young people who like their conveniences, you know. 

"Japanese have never really taken action even when they felt angry about something...so I thought I'd come this time. Japanese youth should speak up more," he said.

"...So I thought I'd come this time. Japanese youth should speak up more.." Well, you thought wrong.

The article continued: 

In Roppongi, about 30 people gathered and exchanged messages via the Internet with activists in the United States.

Thirty people? Wow! Now there's a real demonstration that will scare the authorities!



The modern demonstrations in Japan are, like I said, a farce. There is no direction and it means nothing. Just another demonstration by a bunch of ill-educated idiots who have no direction and no policy. The Japanese will not rise up until they have a focused target and enemy that they can direct their attention at. This "Support Wall Street" and "No nuclear power" is just a hodge podge that, ultimately means zip. Zero. Nada. Nothing.

And I am no hypocrite. I do not condone violence. But I also do not condone this pissy wimp assed protests. OK, folks. We don't need violence, but how about some protests that make the authorities stand up and take notice?

And don't think I don't offer solutions. Here's one:

Protest against the bankers and the bad economic conditions? Try this:

Instead of 100 people getting together for a walk to to hang around Roppongi using their Twitter accounts, how about getting a few hundred people to dress up all in the exact same color? Say black clothes. Add the Japanese touch by wearing headbands.

Get these few hundred people to march in smart step from some big train station to some predesignated meeting place for about 30 minutes. There, when everyone is gathered around, light a large fire and have every single person in the progression burn their credit cards.

While they hold up their burning credit cards and placards then they chant something like "Down with the bankers" or whatever the designated target is. 

Do you think having a few hundred Japanese all dressed in black burning their credits cards won't make the big news all over the world? 

I'll bet it would.

But would it matter? Probably not. Even though it would make a good image, if the people don't get organized and arrange these types of protests all over Japan, then it won't matter...

It certainly won't matter if, after they burn their credit cards, that they take off their headbands and get right back to business as usual.


Here are some realities for everyone to think about and (hopefully) understand:

Government cannot expand faster than domestic economic output does.  That is, if you want government to get bigger, the economy must get bigger to support it.

Growth in the economy must come from economic surplus, not borrowing.  Economic surplus is what you have left after you (1) labor, and (2) pay for all of the things you must buy with that labor.  Whether your payment is direct (e.g. you pick strawberries and get to keep X% of your output) or indirect (you are paid a wage in "dollars" and then spend that money) the fact remains that economic growth can, in the long run, only come from economic surplus

The process by which economic surplus is turned into economic expansion is called capital formation.  Capital formation is not borrowing; borrowed funds are fungible (that is, interchangeable) with formed capital but they are not the same thing.  Only capital formation produces lasting prosperity.  Replacing formed capital with borrowed funds produces bubbles; these are inherently pyramid schemes in both concept and execution and thus must eventually burst.

Due to inefficiency in all things, including the markets, when a bubble bursts you're worse off than if it had never occurred in the first place.  This is the principle known simply as "there's no such thing as a free lunch."  It's true in thermodynamics and it's also true in economics.

5 comments:

Marc Sheffner said...

Denninger is a simpleton. It's (of course) not that simple. See, watch these Nobel Prize-winning economists when someone asks them what's going on with the U.S. economy. This is a much, much more complex matter, not (hmpffff!) something that ordinary people can possibly understand.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Marc, Respectfully, my friend, I totally disagree with you. Even Schiff completely agrees with Denniger. This isn't a discussion about what's going on with the US economy (going forward) both Denninger and Schiff are in total agreement about the causes of the current malaise. Both are frequent guests on shows such as Keiser and they are all of the same thinking. The Noble prize economists are the confused ones (as Schiff pointed out) as the Nobel prize is a farce... Example? Obama won a peace prize. All the proof you need.

mikeintokyorogers said...

PS: Both Schiff AND Denninegr are regular columnists on Lew Rockwell... The most famous of the Mises group :
Denninger on LRC.

Pandabonium said...

I agree with you regarding economists being confused - they are the priests of a religion which requires "belief" rather than offering logical arguments.

I disagree with you about peaceful protests. Research shows that peaceful protests are more effective at bringing about change. Please check out "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict" from the Belfour Group at Harvard which was published in "International Security" regarding this.

(I'll concede that the headband protest was rather lame.)

Mark Pendergrast said...

Hi, Marc -- Feel free to edit this, but I am mostly writing it to you personally. I wrote about the recent protest of nuclear power at the Meiji Shrine park in my new ebook, Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World. The Japanese have been, in general, all too passive and non-protesting up until recently. I hope you will take a look at the book. A paperback will be available soon. For info, see www.markpendergrast.com. I could email you a review copy. Here's an overview:

Japan's Tipping Point is a small book on a huge topic. In the post-Fukushima era, Japan is the "canary in the coal mine" for the rest of the world. Can Japan radically shift its energy policy, become greener, more self-sufficient, and avoid catastrophic impacts on the climate? Mark Pendergrast arrived in Japan exactly two months after the Fukushima meltdown. This book is his eye-opening account of his trip and his alarming conclusions.

Japan is at a crucial tipping point. A developed country that must import all of its fossil fuel, it can no longer rely on nuclear power, following the massive earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011. Critically acclaimed nonfiction writer Mark Pendergrast went to Japan to investigate Japan's renewable energy, Eco-Model Cities, food policy, recycling, and energy conservation, expecting to find innovative, cutting edge programs.

He discovered that he had been naive. The Japanese boast of their eco-services for eco-products in eco-cities. Yet they rely primarily on imported fossil fuel and nuclear power, live in energy-wasteful homes, and import 60% of their food. That may be changing in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Maybe. But as Pendergrast documents, Japan lags far behind Europe, the United States, and even (in some respects) China in terms of renewable energy efforts. And Japan is mired in bureaucracy, political in-fighting, indecision, puffery, public apathy, and cultural attitudes that make rapid change difficult.

Yet Japan is also one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with friendly, resilient people who can, when motivated, pull together to accomplish incredible things.

As an island nation, Japan offers a microcosmic look at the problems facing the rest of the globe. And as Japan tips, so may the world.

Mark Pendergrast, the author of books such as For God, Country and Coca-Cola, Uncommon Grounds, and Inside the Outbreaks, entertains as he enlightens. As he wrote in Japan's Tipping Point: "The rest of this account might seem a strange combination of critical analysis, travelogue, absurdist non-fiction, and call to action. It might be called 'Mark’s Adventures in Japanland: Or, Apocalyptic Visions in a Noodle Shop.'"