I received several mails from irate Americans who just can't handle the truth about how much of a hellhole that country has become. One guy even wrote::
I find it amusing that this blogger constantly ballyhoos the importance of facts and then writes an editorial with the provocative headline above without any exercise of facts save you can smoke in restaurants and drink at the beach-- if that's your definition of freedom, then I feel sorry for you. This is black-and-white writing, emotional, if not hysterical.
If you're going to be provocative at least put a little effort into it. This just feels like lazy writing. And your characterization of Japan is maudlin.
Look who is talking about being maudlin! Check the rear view mirror for knee-jerk emotional reactions, my friend. Why do I need to re-state old facts that everyone - who has been paying attention - already knows? Take off the rose-colored glasses and read on....
Here's some selected tidbits from Lew Rockwell.com from an article entitled, "Number One? 20 Not So Good Categories That the United States Leads the World." Here's your freedom facts. (Read them and weep):
#1 The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and the largest total prison population on the entire globe.
#2 According to NationMaster.com, the United States has the highest percentage of obese people in the world.
#3 The United States has the highest divorce rate on the globe by a wide margin.
#5 The United States has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the entire planet.
#6 There are more car thefts in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world by far.
#7 There are more reported rapes in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world.
#8 There are more reported murders in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world.
#9 There are more total crimes in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world.
#10 The United States also has more police officers than anywhere else in the world.
#11 The United States spends much more on health care as a percentage of GDP than any other nation on the face of the earth.
#12 The United States has more people on pharmaceutical drugs than any other country on the planet.
#13 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.
#16 The United States has the largest trade deficit in the world every single year. Between December 2000 and December 2010, the United States ran a total trade deficit of 6.1 trillion dollars with the rest of the world, and the U.S. has had a negative trade balance every single year since 1976.
#17 The United States spends 7 times more on the military than any other nation on the planet does. In fact, U.S. military spending is greater than the military spending of China, Russia, Japan, India, and the rest of NATO combined.
#19 The United States has the most complicated tax system in the entire world.
#20 The U.S. has accumulated the biggest national debt that the world has ever seen and it is rapidly getting worse. Right now, U.S. government debt is expanding at a rate of $40,000 per second.
I'm being maudlin when I rail on what the USA has become? Ha! I'm maudlin!? These facts I have linked to above are old news. It is astounding, though, that many Americans seem blissfully unaware of them. If anyone should know these facts, the Americans should.
Oh, and if that's not enough, at Lew Rockwell.com there's more. Read: "Number One? 20 Not So Good Categories That the United States Leads the World." Also, a reader wrote to Lew and added on the blog:
About that USA #1 article you published. Curiously the author didn't mention the USA as:#1 in nuke and other WMD stockpiles.
#1 in WMD sales to other countries
#1 in lawsuits and lawyers per capita and, of course,
#1 in invading other countries!
#1 in WMD sales to other countries
#1 in lawsuits and lawyers per capita and, of course,
#1 in invading other countries!
Smoking & drinking are small things? Yes. That's why Japan blows away the USA for freedom. In the USA you can't even do these small, trivial things. Is that my definition of freedom? Yes. What's yours? (Feel free to choose from the multiple choice list above).
"#1 The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and the largest total prison population on the entire globe."
I have read this "fact" many many times, but it has always bothered me. Our prison system needs a big overhaul. Our "War on Drugs" is a failure. The incarceration rate, however, does not necessarily reflect the quality of life in a country.
I understand that at least one country executes their political prisoners and sells their organs for profit. It isn't the USA...although it is for certain that we are *not* pristine. Neither are other countries.
According to Wikipedia: "Even though other countries have more prisoners annually, the fact that the United States keeps their prisoners longer causes the total rate to become higher."
Also from Wikipedia: "That means roughly 1 in every 32 Americans are held by the justice system. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) at King's College London, of that 7.2 million, 2.3 million are in prison. The People's Republic of China comes in second place with 1.6 million, despite its population being over four times that of the United States."
Despite the fact that China has a lesser incarceration rate, I wouldn't want to live there!
There is more to living in a culture and, therefore the country, than twenty statistics.
I am here and will make the best of it. This is where God has placed me just as God gave me the parents I had. We chose to remain here just as I chose to respect my parents. You chose Japan. At least we both had the freedom to make a choice. We will live with our decisions.
Excellent! Thanks for posting an intelligent and well-thought out point.
I will venture, though, that once you live outside of your own country, not only do you understand the new country better, you get a massive education on your own!
Your point is well taken! As an free market anarchist, I will take your argument one step further... I believe it is the military-industrial machine that has ruined the USA. The drug war is just another extension of that monster that will - and is currently - destroying that country. Those people will not relinquish control easily.
M. Thanks for adding a sensible point! If you stay and fight, good luck to you. I ran away long ago and haven't regretted it even once. Any other expats share the sentiment?
PS: M, have you ever been to China? I have. I could easily see living in Shanghai. Wonderful place!
And yet, they keep coming. Those foreigners keep flooding into America year after year after year. Why they don't likewise go pouring into Japan in the same numbers is anyone's guess. But Japan can have them. America is overcrowded. And Japan can have all the other knuckleheads running around making this country a mess. Then I can relax and live life like the good old days.
They don't flood into Japan because, unlike the USA, Japan has a sensible and rational law concerning immigrants.
Score one more for Japan.
It is not a good thing to brag that poor South Americans are still flooding into the USA... Especially when you consider the huge rise of upper middle class and wealthy Americans leaving the USA over these last 10 years. "The top-earning % of US taxpayers are Leaving the USA at the highest rate in history. ....Not only the Income Tax, but other legislative and regulatory attacks on success are forcing many of the people who pay the lion's share of taxes, to leave the United States and because of some of that legislation, those producers are now taking all of their wealth with them, thus very disproportionately reducing the tax and investment base in the United States." http://actionamerica.org/taxecon/ticktick.shtml
Many of these remarks remind me of "They thought they were free" http://www.swans.com/library/art16/xxx140.html
The "maudlin" blog of mine that Mike printed and linked to seems to have drawn a somewhat negative reaction.
Firstly, we do have to recognize that the value people assign to personal liberty is subjective. What is small potatoes to you may be a big deal to me. Sure, drinking beer in public, not being harassed by cops, and living in a low crime environment might seem like small matters. There are many things that I could add to that list.
For example, in Japan, not getting groped or nudie scanned at the airport and not having to send in a list of overseas financial accounts to the government would be good places to start in terms of important civil rights that American's no longer have.
On the other hand, there is no right to have a firearm for self defense in Japan and I do not believe home schooling is an option here either, though private schools are quite common.
What is clear to me is that it is undeniable that personal liberties in America have been strongly eroded under the Bush, Clinton, and Obama crime family regimes. That sort of erosion is making countries like Japan look better every day.
Andy, I am amused by one American who wrote that he went to the bar to smoke and drink. At the bar, he could drink. When he wanted to smoke, the bartender told him that he had to go outside to do that. When outside, he couldn't take his drink as it is illegal to drink in public.
It is this sort of madness that has ruined that country.
PS: You don't hear Japan or the Japanese running around claiming to be the "Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free" like Americans like to do either.
Although I am not sure about whether Japan is indeed a better place to be than the US because 'better' is very subjective, as far as freedom of speech goes regarding the head of state - do you remember that book Naoto Kan's wife published?
This would not have been possible in most countries, i.e. a book casting doubt on a current PM's abilities by his own wife.
Ouch! Ballyhoo American guy gets blown out of the water! Painful to watch!
The Military Industrial Complex needs its drug fix. It is evident by the sick facade of NATO & UN political imperialism.
Any American who fails to deem what is truly going on is truly in sick denial. Death to the USA military industrial complex!
I thought of your blog thread when I came across this:
"...There is accumulating evidence that the Washington – Wall Street moral hazard experiment has gone disastrously wrong, and that just like any other accidental discharge of a deadly virus, the moral hazard virus is now loose and swiftly propagating throughout society. By so blatantly colluding with Wall Street, Washington has lost all moral authority, and the people now have only one place to turn: themselves.
An ethic of, "If they can do it, so can I," is spreading, as people realize that fabric of American society has been shredded and replaced by a free-for-all mentality whereby everyone must fend for oneself in order to survive ... Homeowners evicted by foreclosure trash their homes in rage on the way out the door, with an estimated 50% of such dwellings damaged. Looters and squatters destroy many of the rest, stealing copper pipes, wiring, granite counter tops and anything else of value.
... The bottom line issue is one of fairness. Comity and civil society are at risk when people feel they are being taken advantage of at a fundamental level."
As the writer who so rankles the blogger enough to warrant a follow-up blog post, I would like to respond that I agree that the military industrial complex, the drug war, and our privatized prison system represent detestable facts. But so is Japan's 99% conviction rate. So is the deep control the LDP government exerts over the press. So is the power of the bureaucracy and the corruptive, malignant influence of amakudari.
So what I have a problem with is absolutist statements like "Japan is freer than the U.S." And I have serious doubts about whether your way of defining freedom are sound. 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. 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.
And what the hell is a "free market anarchist?" Would love to read your blog on that one. I'm sure as usual it will be extremely offensive.
Dear Anonymous above. Your argument and logic are so poor that they make another great article. I just wish you had enough balls to at least write your name to these silly comments. See you in my next blog. I will deconstruct every single argument you make.
Andy in Japan wrote that he didn't think homeschooling was an option in Japan.
He's right! Technically (legally), it isn't. But there are in fact so many school "refuseniks" （登校拒否）that I understand authorities turn a blind eye in many cases. So, homeschooling exists de facto in Japan, although it is legally not permitted. (See Article 26).
Home-schooling not legal in Japan? Ok, give one for the USA!
Homeschooling on the rise in Japan: http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/Japan/200202110.asp
It might not be "legal" but people are doing it anyway... Score another one for Japan's freedom! It is an unenforced "law" (and a very vague one at that).
This would never happen in Japan:
Homeschool, Anti-vaccine Family Being Destroyed by CPS: Chronology of a Kidnapping:
I left America to move to Japan the day after this was posted. Honestly its the best decision I have ever made.
America is a terrible place to live, filled with fat, uneducated, rude imbeciles. Here is a big f*** you to the red, white and blue. I hate you, American. Because you are no longer good or great.
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