Sunday, July 17, 2011

Japan is Freer Than the USA #3

The recent blogs about how bad the USA have become have really hit a nerve with some Americans. I keep getting more comments from one guy who seems like he just can't stand it when someone makes a remark like "Japan is better place to live than the USA." 

This entire conversation started with an letter I received from a friend. I reprinted it in "Japan is a Much Freer and Better Place to Live Than the United States." The letter, from an ex-pat American living in Northern Japan was just a slice of life that, for me, represents how much better and safer and freer Japan is than today's USA. 


I used the anecdotal story in the letter to say Japan was a better because Japan has much less crime and much more personal freedom than today's USA does.

This reader got upset and made some strange remark about how I always talk about facts, but had no facts to back up my claim. Gee? The statement "Japan is a Freer and Much Better place to Live than the USA" is a pretty subjective statement. Do I even need to back up subjective statements with facts? 

If I say that the Beatles are better than the Rolling Stones, is it normal to be asked to show some sort of proof? 

I think, like in the letter I reprinted, the fact that kids can play on the beach without adult supervision shows a very safe society without fear of crime and the ability to smoke or drink in public - while small things - and something that one cannot do in the USA anymore - are a sign of a society that shows common sense. These things are in very short supply in the USA police state. Small freedoms add up to a lot of freedom.

He wanted facts about why I thought the USA has lost it. I gave him an entire list of them.   

The first on the list, "The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and the largest total prison population on the entire globe" should have ended the discussion, but it didn't. 

This is an embarrassment to every American. They should be ashamed. But, once again just shows another problem with the USA; A lack of freedom of the mind.  

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than 
those who falsely believe they are free."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Some of the other items on this list should have ended the argument too... They were: There are more reported rapes in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world. There are more reported murders in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world. There are more total crimes in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world. The list went on.

Anyway, for the sake of fairness (and fun) let me print this reader's letter in entirety. His comments are highlighted in yellow.

Anonymous said...

As the writer who so rankles the blogger enough to warrant a follow-up blog post,
Don't flatter yourself. This is a blog. Good bloggers interact with the readers I think that is common knowledge
I would like to respond that I agree that the military industrial complex, the drug war, and our privatized prison system represent detestable facts. 
OK. That's a huge chunk of what life is the USA is all about nowadays. The military industrial complex is responsible for the drug wars, foreign wars, loss of freedoms (even the loss of freedom of speech)... But he wants to move on and ignore the 900-pound goriila in the room. He writes: 
But so is Japan's 99% conviction rate. 
It strikes me as odd that a person from a country that has so many lawyers and such massive litigation going on all the time, that they point out to anything involving the legal system. And, he is not looking at the entire picture. Japan has a high conviction rate because lawyers and the police will not go to court unless they are pretty damned sure of winning. Here's your proof of that: 

J. Mark Ramseyer of Harvard Law School and Eric B. Rasmusen of Indiana University examine if the accusation is in fact warranted. In their paper ("Why Is the Japanese Conviction Rate So High?") they examined two possibilities. One is that judges who come under the control of central bureaucracy are pressured to pass a guilty verdict, ensuring high conviction. Another possibility is that, given that non jury system under inquisition system has predictable ruling on guilt, prosecutors rarely ever bring a case which have even minute chance of failure.  
Entire Japanese court ruling is accessible in digital format and the two academics examined every case after WWII in which the court found the defendant not guilty. The result is mixed. examining the individual cases, the two academic founds that all of those cases which negatively affected judges career had political implication (such as labour law or electoral law) and that the facts of the case (i.e. the defendants committing the accused deed) itself was never in dispute. However, Judged delivered not guilty verdict on technical basis such as statute of limitation or constitutional argument, which was subsequently reversed in higher court. In cases in which the judge delivered not guilty verdict because they ruled that there are insufficient evidence to ascertain that the defendants did the accused deed, the judged suffered no negative consequence. For this reason, the paper argued that Japanese judges are politically conservative in legal interpretation but are not biased in matter of fact.
In the matter relating to Japanese prosecutor being extremely cautious, the paper found ample evidence for it. In Japan, 99.7% of case brought to court result in conviction while in U.S. it is 88%. 
According to a cited research, In U.S. the 22% of federal case and 11% of state case, the accused contest the guilt while in Japan, the ratio is modestly less. The paper attribute this difference to greater predictability of the outcome in Japanese case. This is due to two reason. One is that it is judge rather than jury who determine the verdict. As judged "have seen it all before" and the lawyers on both side "have seen them seeing it" as they can read judge's previous ruling, which include written reasoning for previous verdict, the way judge think and argue is very predictable.

So is the deep control the LDP government exerts over the press. 
This guy has got to be kidding me, right? Talk about people in glass houses throwing stones! Are we talking abut a guy from a country complaining that the government controls the media? A guy from the very same country that has a lap dog media that cheered the USA invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq? This point is so absurd that it is laughable. Perhaps the LDP "controls" the media? It can't be any worse than the USA whose media cheers on wars that bomb and kill hundreds of thousands of brown-skinned men, women and children 24/7. Let's not forget that the USA also has a public that gave its president a 92% approval rating while doing so. 
So is the power of the bureaucracy and the corruptive, malignant influence of amakudari. 
Seriously. This is another joke again, right? Never heard of Washington's revolving door? This guy complains about revolving door politics and business yet  he comes from a country where a president's son becomes president 8 years after dad? Name one other country like that! Quick! 
Like father, like son
So what I have a problem with is absolutist statements like "Japan is freer than the U.S." 
No. He has a problem with a subjective statement like "Japan is Freer Than the United States." Even so, I stand by my subjective statement, "Japan is a freer nation and a better place to live than the USA". I've given a list of facts and data. I've even given anecdotal evidence and the guy gets difficult - and rude on top of that! 
But, I know the truth is that he probably fears what I have made an opinion on is too close to home and is an ugly truth. People just don't like to admit it and they get mad at someone like me stating so. I suspect that he's had this argument with others before and is taking it out on me. The Internet is full of articles on America's loss of freedom. And, as if it really matters what I think. A good example for this guy's chip on the shoulder attitude is like a guy who buys a crap car. He knows he bought a lemon and the car is no good, but doesn't like it if you tell him that.  
Why does the guy get pissy with me? I don't know. I never insulted him! Why do Americans take everything so personal and are so abusive? Do a Google search on "America is Losing Freedom" and you'll get 61 million results. Do a Google search on "America Police State" and you get 108 million results. This guy needs to wake from his slumber.
And I have serious doubts about whether your way of defining freedom are sound. 
Gee. I gave an anecdotal example. The reader asked for data. I gave him that too. Japan has much lower crime, a much safer society, people live longer, universal health care, the best public transit system in the world, people have more respect for each other (say, if you drop your camera in the park, it will probably still be there a few hours later when you go looking for it), and many small personal freedoms that are not available in the USA, etc. etc. 
Make no mistake about it. These above are freedoms. At the very least they are the freedom from fear and worry.
You write so much about critical thinking but I find obesity, divorce rates, and drug abuse have little to do with a society's freedom. It seems you conflate lifestyle choices with freedom, misrepresenting your argument. 
This guy is confused and needs to read more and study. For one, obesity is not a "lifestyle choice." Obesity is a disease. Obesity is a prison. Does anyone in their right mind think people want to be fat? Two, drugs? Drugs are a sickness and a sort of prison too. Healthy people do not abuse drugs. America's well documented problems with over-the-counter and illegal severe drug abuse is the sign of a very sick society. Divorce is just another sign of unhappy people. Nobody wants to get a divorce either. They do it when they find that they need "out." This is caused by many factors; extra marital affairs, drug and alcohol abuse, money, etc. etc. Getting a divorce is a very expensive process it is not a "lifestyle choice." Either way, a high divorce rate is also a sign of a very ill society. 
A lifestyle choice is things like how people dress, wear their hair, where they want to live... These things he mentions are not lifestyle choices by any stretch of the imagination.
It would have been much more sufficiently argumentative had you described the difference as one of quality of life rather than freedom. Linking your Lew Rockwell articles doesn't mean diddley-squat to me. I don't give a hoot who Rockwell is. The guy carries nothing in the way of legitimate scholarship as far as I'm concerned. Just another American fringe movement. 
This guy complains about subjective statements but thinks "Quality of Life" is less subjective than "Freedom"? I don't follow that reasoning at all. He also wrote, "I don't give a hoot who Rockwell is. The guy carries nothing in the way of legitimate scholarship as far as I'm concerned. Just another American fringe movement." Well, pardon me, your royal highness! Lew Rockwell only gets between about 600,000 to 1.8 million unique users per day and is the #5,677 most popular blog on the entire Internet. Not bad when there are over 1 trillion sites according to Google. That blows away sites like New Republic. He also only has some of the best political and social writers in America today (and Canada and Europe) on his roster. And, just because this guy is not clued in and doesn't know, Lew Rockwell is the #27 most popular political website on the Internet in the entire world today
And what the hell is a "free market anarchist?" Would love to read your blog on that one.
This guy sure likes to act intelligent but he isn't well-read, is he? Not only does he need to read more, but he also needs to learn how to use Google search engine. Open In the box type in "Free market anarchist." You will see nearly 4 million results. Gee! It's so unknown that there's even a Wikipedia page for it. 

I'm sure as usual it will be extremely offensive.
Well, have a nice day to you, too my friend. The only thing offensive here is this guy's self-centered attitude. I write a statement that Japan is a freer place than the USA and mention safety and smoking and drinking in public and he calls that offensive? Someone certainly has a problem here. 
This guy is the perfect example of one more thing about Japan that blows the USA away. In the USA, way too many people are very rude and argumentative. If you go to, say, a bar and state an opinion about something like politics (or some other trivial matter) if someone disagrees with you, you could get into an argument. Or worse, you could get into a fist fight. Or even shot! Americans are famous the world over for being loud, interrupting each other all the time, being argumentative and boisterous.
But, in Japan, if you state some opinion that someone disagrees with, you won't get into a fight. If I say something like, "Tokyo is a better place to live than Osaka." The typical Japanese reaction would be, "Oh?" And that would be the end of it. But not that American. He gets angry and rude. Typical.
This reader is in serious denial. Its because of people like him that the United States keeps going downhill: You can't get better until you get out of denial and face the problems truthfully.
I remember living in Southern California a long time ago and thinking, "This would be the best place to live in the world... If only there were no people."

Another good reason Japan is a better place to live: People have manners and still have respect for each other. Something that seems to have died off in far too many Americans long ago. This reader doesn't seem to have much.

For more on how badly life has gotten in the USA, read; "18 Signs That the Collapse of Society is Accelerating." I highly recommend reading the commentaries by Americans who despair the decline of that country.

UPDATE: Escape From America
Life is mellower almost anywhere else, says Jeff Berwick.


Andy "In Japan" said...

This person has a problem with absolutist statements. Isn't that an absolutist statement itself?

Since he can not offer any proof that American's have more personal freedom than Japanese, he uses the word "conflate" and then changes the subject to an unrelated topic, like personal lifestyles, even though you never mentioned personal lifestyles in your blog.

To further disprove your point about Japan being better, he attacks Lew Rockwell, even though Lew Rockwell has nothing to do with the point you were making. As he knows nothing about Lew, instead of criticizing anything about him, he merely states that he doesn't give a hoot about Lew. Simply brilliant reasoning. To further prove Lew Rockwell is bad, he simply says Lew's articles don't mean diddly squat and further, Lew doesn't carry legitimate scholarship.

He then contemptuously asks what the hell a free market anarchist is, without ever stating what a legitimate scholarship carrier is.

Mike, trying to reason with this person is a total waste of time.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Perhaps it is a waste of time... But that is another very good thing about living in Japan that I have found. And that is that Japan will teach one to be patient. It is a virtue that is one that (in my 54-year-old) immaturity I still strive for everyday.
Yes, what this guys writes make me angry (I wish it wouldn't) and, if I were still in America, I'd probably revert to the gutteral name calling you see on many American blogs and websites... But, no. I should try to be kind. I'm not being magnanimous here. It is better for me and my human spirit to do so.

Don't you think Japan teaches patience in everything we do even in just ordinary mundane things?

Anonymous said...

Nice reply.
Many People would do well to consider some of the things you wrote, even those on "this side of the fence."

I would object to Andy's position when he says, "trying to reason with this person is a total waste of time."

At least, today I do, tomorrow I might change my mind. [Everything else he wrote was spot on.]

I argue/try to reason with others who are just like the main idiot (there's this older fellow on SHTFPLAN who calls himself Durango Kidd,... arg!!!) Anyway, I ask myself, why try... it's because he influences others who are on the fence and undecided or those who are just swimming with the stream. Unless there is a cross current, an opposing voice, nothing changes,... and my position (and my families position) is made better the more People consider the ideas of the free market and liberty, at least
I hope so.

Of course the Band of the White Rose were probably wasting their time too, but I think they call that the good fight?

Also, to me, it's odd how these types of People attack, I've seen this a number of times (attack the messenger?) the attacks are sometimes vicious, it's almost as if,... ah, nevermind. It's likely just due to feelings of inadequacy or something, right? Nationalist dementia?

- Clark

Anonymous said...

I agree with Andy. I doubt that he's going to change your mind nor you his. Afterall, Birds of a feather...

Anonymous said...

Actually, when you stop and think about it, it is a pretty damning statement when a guy can argue that Japan is freer than the USA. Japan? A nation that was extremely poor just 60 years ago and couldn't feed her people - as well as being completely destroyed by WWII - is a freer country than America today? AND THIS GUY CAN ACTUALLY WIN THAT ARGUMENT?... That's speaks volumes about the sad state of the USA today. The other thing that speaks volumes is how many American ex-pats seem to agree with him.

Sad days for the US.

Anonymous said...

I saw this on LRC and thought of how free we are in the U.S.

Escape From America

by Jeff Berwick
The Dollar Vigilante

"The US is a police state. Nothing is legal in the US anymore. Today, the city of Philadelphia even announced that they are going to "crack down" on people who walk while typing on their cell phones. Yes, you heard that correct, you can now be confronted by a policeman for walking infractions!"

Anonymous said...

"The statement "Japan is a Freer and Much Better place to Live than the USA" is a pretty subjective statement."

No, it isn't. That states something as a fact. "I believe that Japan is a freer and much better place to live than the USA" is a subjective statement.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

And another USA citizen cares to debate without resorting to any facts and just knee-jerk jingoism and state worship.

chris lam said...

As an American who has traveled to and lived in Japan, I would say there is much truth to Mike's assertions especially since 9/11. Things are not how they used to be. The gov't has used the fear of terrorism quite well to take its citizen's freedoms away while touting it as the best thing for keeping the country safe.

To the gun lovers. Believe me, you don't need a gun to protect yourself in Japan. Actually, it's that way in most first world countries. So, if you feel a need to own a gun no matter what, Japan is NOT the place for you.

The whole health system in the USA is screwed up. It'd be nice to have a more... may I say, socialized as in socialism set up so everyone gets taken care of. That's one of the things I loved about Japan.

People are quite civil in Japan too. They have to be. There are almost half as many people there living in a space the size of California. Maybe it's a zen thing. So, although overcrowded, people respect each other's space. Of course, this is generalizing, but it is true.

Someone mentioned having to wear seat belts or helmets while riding motorcycles in America and that America is a "nanny state". Well, it's pretty much the same in Japan. But I think that even if they did not enforce those type of laws, the Japanese would still wear their helmets and seat belts. Why? Because they ain't dumb. They know that it's safer to use them and do so wanting to stay safe.

And the foood! Fantastic. If you like Japanese food. Tasty and good for you. How about that!

Ok, just thought I'd add my two cents.

chris lam said...

I just realized I did not make the part about population clear. There are half as many people living in Japan as in America, and they are all living in a space the size of California. That's like 120 million people living in CA.

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