Memeorandum


Powered by TypePad

« I Want To Hear Some Big Dogs Barking | Main | I Deplore This Call To Violence In The NY Times »

January 03, 2011

Comments

Melinda Romanoff

Just wait'll they figure out the numbers for China are even worse...

Army of Davids

On Goolsbee's comments on the debt ceiling...

My take is he is either full of BS or incompetent.

Obama is spoiling for a fight on the debt ceiling (Gingrich v Clinton)

Going straight at Goolsbee's comments and intentions looks to me like shooting fish in a barrel.

This guy is now a ripe political target IMHO.

Army of Davids

I see Lindsey Graham is quoted (CNBC) as saying that US credit is at risk on not raising the debt ceiling.

This is the same economicly clueless idiot who wants to go down the same protectionist path as Chuckie Schumer. Good god...no wonder we are in this mess.

Look at the long end of the treasury market. Traders don't take this nonsense seriously.

bgates

Maria Fransiska, a young, hard-working nurse from Indonesia, is just the kind of worker Japan would seem to need to replenish its aging work force.

The kind that doesn't speak the language.

the government is...protecting tiny interest groups — in the case of Ms. Fransiska, a local nursing association afraid that an influx of foreign nurses would lower industry salaries

Rest assured that if ever a group of workers associated by an interest in keeping up their industry's salaries were to form in this country, the Times would be all over that story.

Neo

Is this a call for some kind of "poor man's" equality ?

People’s retirement savings are a convenient source of revenue for governments that don’t want to reduce spending or make privatizations. As most pension schemes in Europe are organised by the state, European ministers of finance have a facilitated access to the savings accumulated there, and it is only logical that they try to get a hold of this money for their own ends. In recent weeks I have noted five such attempts: Three situations concern private personal savings; two others refer to national funds.
It starts in Hungry, Bulgaria, Poland, Ireland and France.

Ignatz

--OK, it looks like national suicide...--

Hard to believe less than twenty years ago we were being told that Japan's planned and manipulated economy was the unstoppable juggernaut of the future.
Now I wonder in twenty years, whose economy will be more planned and manipulated, and consequently more moribund, ours or China's.

Jane (sit on the couch or save your country)

Neo,

That sent shivers down my spine. I immediately emailed my broker and asked for a contingency plan if Obama decides to do it. His response: Move to Australia

Property for sale in Montenegro

The situation sounds bad for immigrants who would like to get jobs in Japan, and not so good for Japanese corporations. But is it hurting the Japanese people? Are there jobs available for the Japanese? Would there be more jobs available for them if foreigners were getting jobs there?

Rick Ballard

Japanese chauvinism may have become much more acceptable to the NYT since the left leaning DPJ has replaced the right leaning LDP. The DPJ may be reacting to pressure from a tiny interest group but they may also be reacting to the jump in unemployment with some special attention to the probability of expatriation of savings by non-citizen workers.

Given the parlous nature of the Japanese budget, deficit and debt, it's safe to assume that 'every yen counts' is foremost in the government's actions.

MayBee

There is just this misguided idea that you can pick and choose the aspects of other cultures that you like, incorporate them into our society, and end up with the good results you see in the foreign culture.

Obama does this with Japan and Korea in his quest for education "reforms", too. Kids in Japan do better? Let's adopt their school year! Kids in Korea do better? Let's get rid of video game playing at home (although that was laughable).

sbw

As a side note [snicker], I see that the "The Semi-Daily Journal of Economist J. Bradford DeLong: Fair, Balanced, and Reality-Based" has decided that my comment on DeLong's Tom Maguire snark is unworthy and, so far, has not passed moderation. Other De-Long-supporting comments have appeared. So much for fair, balanced, and reality-based.

I KNEW I stopped reading his blog for good reason.

Go ahead, Japan

"To extend her three-year stint at a hospital outside Tokyo, she must pass a standardized nursing exam administered in Japanese, a test so difficult that only 3 of the 600 nurses brought here from Indonesia and the Philippines since 2007 have passed."

The woman has had three years to study the language of the country that she is exploiting because she can get "ten times" what she can make at home. Do you want people who can't speak confidently in your nation's home language to be taking care of patients, discussing treatments with doctors and other nurses, and hold your loved one's comfort, health, and life in their hands?

Japan is asking for nothing outside what it deserves. Perhaps its work force can absorb SOME of these non-Japanese-speaking workers, but what will happen when they flood in and never leave? Ask people in some American work arenas, where illegal alien latinos have made Spanish a requirement through the sheer numbers of their presence.

MayBee

Do you want people who can't speak confidently in your nation's home language to be taking care of patients, discussing treatments with doctors and other nurses, and hold your loved one's comfort, health, and life in their hands?

That is a good point. Japanese language tests aren't a requirement for all jobs in Japan, but it certainly makes sense to have them in areas where you will need to speak Japanese.

matt

maybe they will invent robot nurses instead. Just the thing for their sterile, xenophobic world.

According to the demographic trending, Japan will functionally stop being Japanese at some point as the population shrinks to a level which cannot sustain a true Japanese identity. Same is true in much of the "North".

How will societies react is the existential question of the 21st century? Islamization in Europe? Latinization in North America?

The world is changing whether we like it or not.

The Japanese are caught between the rock and hard place of history.

jimmyk

That is a good point. Japanese language tests aren't a requirement for all jobs in Japan, but it certainly makes sense to have them in areas where you will need to speak Japanese.

So we need the government to do that? We can't trust private businesses and individuals to decide what the appropriate language requirement is? Language requirements, like licensing requirements, are just a red herring to disguise protectionism.

I don't even buy the cultural argument--it's the same anti-immigration argument that was made in our grandparents' time, which had it been accepted, many of us wouldn't be here. As long as we (or in this case, Japan) don't accommodate the immigrants with bilingual education and welfare, the melting pot works.

MayBee

So we need the government to do that? We can't trust private businesses and individuals to decide what the appropriate language requirement is?

This isn't us, this is Japan. They regulate everything. It's exactly what I was saying about trying to take one feature about Japan that is desirable (to some) and trying to plop it down in our culture thinking it will produce the results you want.
Kristof wants Japan's income equality, but knows we can't duplicate Japan's culture.

However, I do believe we regulate some requirements for work visas in this country.

As long as we (or in this case, Japan) don't accommodate the immigrants with bilingual education and welfare, the melting pot works.

Japan isn't a melting pot, and doesn't want to be.

So we need the government to do that? We can't trust private businesses and individuals to decide what the appropriate language requirement is?

boris

Government sponsored multiculturalism seems to enable or even encourage group grievance attitudes that inhibit assimilation.

Opposition to that use of government influence is not unreasonable even if it looks ethnocentric. American culture is already a mixed composition so advocating adoption is not anti-diversity IMO.

jimmyk

Opposition to that use of government influence is not unreasonable even if it looks ethnocentric.

I agree with that. The government should not try encourage multiculti or group grievances, but I don't think it should protect the natives against competition from immigrants who want to work. That's a losing battle in a global economy.

Yes, this is Japan we are talking about, but the arguments seemed to be drifting toward applying them to the U.S. as well. Japan can certainly do what it wishes, within reason, but I think it is mistaken if it thinks that there's an inescapable tradeoff between maintaining its cultural identity and keeping out foreign labor.

glasater

The nurse in question is from Indonesia and most likely a Muslim. Does that give anyone a clue?

Porchlight

The nurse in question is from Indonesia and most likely a Muslim. Does that give anyone a clue?

Actually, from her name (Maria Fransiska) and appearance, I think she is probably a Catholic Filipina. The article mentions nurses brought to Japan "from Indonesia and the Phillippines."

Porchlight

Oops, sorry glasater, I take it back, she is from Indonesia. Still, from the name, I'm guessing she is Catholic.

MarkD

Yes, by all means learn Japanese in 3 years.

My wife, who is Japanese born and raised, went to school there 5 1/2 days a week (half days on Saturdays) with a 40 day Summer vacation, in part because you need to learn around 2,000 Chinese characters just to be considered literate at a High School level.

Most of the kids who go on to college also attend juku, or cram schools at night to make sure they'll pass the entrance exams for college.

Let's say Miss Indonesian Nurse only needs the equivalent of a Japanese High School education. She can work all day, and study all night, but she's not going to be proficient in Japanese in 3 years unless she is a prodigy.

I didn't kill myself studying, but I probably could read at a 3rd grade level when I was stationed there. It's not a practical goal for three years if you require the ability to read and write the language.

MayBee

Yes, this is Japan we are talking about, but the arguments seemed to be drifting toward applying them to the U.S. as well.

I thought the whole conversation was about Kristof pushing for results when we all know he would hate applying the many of the policies that create them.

jimmyk

Really? It seemed to me we moved past talking about Kristof, which is about as useless a topic as one can imagine. Who actually cares what he thinks?

Extraneus

I don't see anything wrong if the Japanese want to maintain their cultural identity. They isolated themselves for more than 200 years once. They don't have to celebrate diversity.

bgates

I think it is mistaken if it thinks that there's an inescapable tradeoff between maintaining its cultural identity and keeping out foreign labor

except to the extent that Japan's cultural identity is "a place filled with people who can speak Japanese". Or even worse (from your apparent perspective), "a place filled with Japanese people".

MayBee

but I don't think it should protect the natives against competition from immigrants who want to work. That's a losing battle in a global economy.

There's no arguing that right now, Japan has set up a good little society for itself. I do not know if that is sustainable, but I don't blame them for looking at the social problems in much of the world and not wanting to give up what they've got.
As it is right now, they want to be able to be easily rid of anyone who starts causing trouble in their culture. They have living wages for even low skilled workers, low crime rates, relatively few drug problems, and culture rich with unique arts and traditions.

srp

Japan also has younger cohorts in despair over lack of opportunities, a crippling debt and pension imbalance, and stagnant productivity in non-export industries. But I agree that they are likely to go down with the demographic ship rather than allow ethnic diversity.

narciso

Kristof, Fallows, and Reid, would complete the trifecta of Japan correspondents who miss
the boat, in the LUN

Extraneus

How low can they sink? Lower than the Middle East? Africa? No way. They're not dysfunctional. Maybe they'll give up some average standard of living in the bargain to retain their culture, but what's wrong with that trade-off? A number of countries in Europe are probably would probably take that bargain in a second if they still had the chance, which they don't.

jimmyk

Or even worse (from your apparent perspective), "a place filled with Japanese people".

As I said, they can do what they want, but the population of Japan is over 125 million. If they seriously feel that letting in a few hundred thousand non-Japanese nurses will upset their whole cultural balance, then there is something oddly fragile about that culture. We're not talking open borders here.

xray

Well, if one were looking to choose a "national' identity in this modern world... wouldn't Japan be near the top of that list? I mean, how much play does diversity receive there, and so on.

If they prefer a nationwide seppuku, so to speak, then who the hell are we to dissuade them differently. We have our own cliff edge approaching, seems that is more important to me.

Is anyone allowed to tell me what LUN is?

formless

Hey, Nick, why am I not as rich as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, John Kerry, Al Gore, and all those Goldman Sachs bankers? Got a remedy for me? Oh, yeah, there's President Obama's idea of spreading the wealth around. Dear Congress: please take away the excess wealth of these men --- let's be generous to them and leave $500,000 * (120 - age) to each of them (after all, there's a point when they've made enough money, right?) and spread around the rest to us lesser men. Until Congress passes such a law, all this talk about income/wealth inequality is just fraud designed to rob the middle class.

Joseph Hertzlinger

In other words, Japan is increasing global inequality by exporting it.

I don't see how that's an improvement.

narciso

Link under Name, so you don't link a whole piece without attribution

Stephanie

LUN is link under name. If someone has a link that they think is worthy of discussion, they put the link in the url box and it's accessable by clicking on their name without dorking up the comment area with html goop.

xray

Thank you.

A_Lee

National suicide? Hardly. Neither China or Japan will ever open themselves to significant immigration. They can hardly believe what the West is doing to itself - they consider our immigration policy as national suicide.

The Japanese standard of living will go down - fine, they'll accept that. You have to remember that the generation that grew up in the post-war era is quite used to poverty. If they have to retire in poverty, so be it. Demographic decline? Even if their population halves in 100 years, there will still be 60+ million of them. But the Japanese homeland will still be populated by ethnic Japanese speaking the Japanese language, practicing Japanese culture and religions. No western country has that assurance. The Chinese are willing to walk that same road, with the difference that they have a population with an even more recent memory of poverty.

xray

"global inequality"

Forgive me... but 'edited'... what are you saying.

I mean... what the hell does that mean.

Taken as standard deviation it would place me in a mud wrapped hovel with an Ipad. Is that your point?

The Chinese can't walk the same road as Japan as they've never set foot upon it.

As example... let all the diverse compo nets of China take a vote, to be independent or to be Chinese. How do you think that would turn out?

level3

The thing is, Japan NEEDS nurses. Despite high unemployment in Japan, officially the unemployment rate is "5%", by using even more ridiculous standards of non-counting than those that yield a "9.7%" figure in the USA, very few of the young jobless or semi-employed people want to do the "three K" jobs Kiken(dangerous), Kitanai(dirty), Kitsui(difficult). There are tons of nursing jobs available, free training programs from the governemnt, and none of the young, semi-slacker generation wants to join up. They still work flipping burgers (or okonomiyaki) while hoping to become fashion designers and video game programmers. Meanwhile, the next older generation is being laid off at 40 due to the terrible economy and finding that blatant age discrimination means none of them can get full time jobs ever again, and Japan does not have a flexible culture of adult education or changing careers mid-life.

The insane, irrrational government is continuing to insist that basically all foreigners be brought in on a revolving door 3-years-and-out policy, motivated by xenophobia, labor unions, and government-media sponsored anti-foreigner rhetoric (gaijin cause more crime, etc.)

If the language skills are so necessary for the job, then why do they let these nurses WORK IN HOSPITALS ANYWAY for 3 years full time while studying to pass the Japanese nursing exam? It is clearly just designed to allow 99% of candidates to fail, so the next crop of underpaid "trainees" can be brought in for 3 years. Unless they wise up first. If the program is designed to yield failure, maybe the next crop of trainees won't even bother wasting their time studying Japanese.

3 years to master not only standard Japanese, but also medical Japanese is insane for someone working full time in such a demanding job. Why not let the nurses continue working as trainees until they can pass the license test? (even though they already are fully licensed in their home countries already!)

Ampontan

Frankly, I don't get the point of this.

If you don't take the New York Times reportage seriously when you read the national news, why do you think it magically changes to something accurate when you turn the page to the international section?

Isn't it time to start drawing conclusions?

http://ampontan.wordpress.com/2009/08/06/anti-nipponism/

David

There is actually no real shortage of nurses in Japan.

There are over 550,000 licensed inactive nurses under the age of 65 who have left the profession mostly due to marriage and pregnancy. There is one nursing association in Tokyo which represents over 50,000 nurses who wish to work again....

Basically, Japan will change its views of married women in the work place long before it ever considers extending the employment of Indonesians beyond 3 years.

melk

Remember, this is the same Nick Kristof who opined that the problem with that cantankerous Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a lack of love when she was a child.Why else could she be so miffed at Islam? Forcible genital mutilation? Nah. No big deal.

You just ignore Kristof. It's only politics with him.

Hucbald

Monochrome cultures don't eliminate all problems - and they cause several (I lived in Japan and Sweden, which were quite monochrome when I was there) - but they do foster a sense of ease, belonging, and unity among the citizenry if their government isn't oppressing or exploiting them.

America-the-melting-pot is a different solution, as it attempts to subsume all racial and ethnic divisions by assimilating everybody into one culture. Obviously, this worked better in the past, when assimilation was expected of newcomers and minorities.

More diversity equals more strife. E Pluribus Unum, remember?

Pervy Grin

I don't see anything wrong if the Japanese want to maintain their cultural identity. They isolated themselves for more than 200 years once. They don't have to celebrate diversity.
We must tolerate their intolerance. We must celebrate the diversity of their homogeneity.

Eye for Japan

Very interesting piece on a very important topic

The comments to this entry are closed.

Traffic

Wilson/Plame