Thursday, January 5, 2017

Japan And The Third Way

The video embedded above is a brief explanation of why Japan has refused to jump on the bandwagon of immigration and multiculturalism. My experience with living in Japan is from many years ago. At that time (late 1980s), Japan was still smitten with the idea of being "Western" in a cosmopolitan sense, but there were still strong undercurrents of Japan fulfilling its manifest destiny and the superiority of Japanese ways. At that time, Japan was still at the top of its economic game with many even predicting it would eclipse the United States economically. But there was no shame or embarrassment of Japan's success; rather, the Japanese gloried in their economic successes and believed that they were the best of the best racially, nationally and culturally. And they viewed the rest of the world in a racial/cultural hierarchy as well.

According to the Black Pigeon video, the Japanese are still very proud of their culture and race. More significantly, however, they are avoiding immigration and the dilution or loss of their way of life, believing that technology (robotics and artificial intelligence) will allow them to escape the Malthusian trap into which the rest of the developed world has fallen.

The trap awaiting the rest of the developed world is the ponzi scheme of pay-as-you-go social retirement plans such as the United States' Social Security program. As you know, workers and their employers pay payroll taxes for Social Security that is supposed to fund the payments for current retirees (an additional amount goes into a disability insurance program) with no real provision for investing or accruing funds for future retirees. When the Social Security program was first initiated, there were approximately 10 workers paying into the system for each retiree drawing from the system. It is my understanding that currently there are 3 workers paying into the system for every person drawing from it, and this ratio is expected to decline further.

The theory among the progressives, on the left and right, is that the only way to prevent the collapse of these types of social welfare systems is to get more people to pay into the system--basically increase the number of workers. But because of low fertility rates, industrial countries simply lack the number of new workers coming into the system. Thus, according to this view, the only solution is to import workers from less developed countries--the Third World. In Europe, this traditionally was Turkey for the Germans, former African colonies for the French, and former British colonies for the British. The U.S., of course, has drawn heavily from Latin America and East Asia in recent decades. Absent allowing mass immigration, these social welfare systems will be unsustainable. Implicit in all of this, however, is the assumption that workers are fungible: a British or French or German worker is the same as a Nigerian or Syrian or Pakistani worker. This, of course, is a lie.

The original Malthusian trap was population growth versus agricultural production. At the close of the 18th Century, Malthus predicted that population growth would soon outstrip agricultural production, and would lead to mass starvation. He was proven wrong as the agricultural revolution, industrial revolution and other technological advances allowed industrialized nations to produce more food with less resources. Combined with the eventual declines in the rate of population growth, the industrialized countries have escaped the trap.

Japan believes there is a third way: that technology also offers the way to escape the trap by, as Black Pigeon explains, focusing on per capita GDP growth rather than overall GDP growth. That is, standards of living can be maintained and even advanced by making industry more productive without adding workers--through automation and artificial intelligence. At this point, only time will tell who is correct. However, it seems to be working for Japan so far, and it is likely the route that China--which is even more hostile to immigration than Japan--will also follow.

Aren't you glad that you are the lab rats in the greatest social experiment ever conducted?

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