|courtesy of [Jim] at Flickr|
That was a major dose of tough love from The Drummond Report last night, wasn't it? For those who are not in the Canadian news sphere, Don Drummond is the chairman of a commission on public-service reform, and he was drafted by Premier McGuinty to find out what needs to trimmed to save Ontario money. Well, his tome (tomb?)-like report recommended things like charging kids to use the school bus, slashing kindergarten hours, disbanding the Maple Leafs (just kidding on the last one...only feel like that when they go on a losing skid). In any case, we will all have to tighten our belts to wasp-like figures.
The Japanese feel our pain. They're in the 3rd decade of economic doldrums after The Economic Miracle and The Bubble. There has also been a commission on how to cut costs, led until recently by the far lovelier-looking Minister Renho, a former half-Taiwanese/half-Japanese former model/newscaster. Still, I was watching NHK this morning, and the news is not heartening. Decades ago, the average senior citizen could fiscally be supported by a small army of the working class. Currently, the cute graphic (even NHK likes to use cute graphics) showed just three people supporting that retired person. And it is predicted that within 40 years, there will only be one person to support one retiree. Of course, it is due to the fact that Japan is the fastest-aging country in the world. Not particularly happy news on the other side of the Pacific.
I am far from any economist...being part of the working poor illustrates that. But I am wondering if it's time for Japan to make another major paradigm shift at every level of society, and gear itself toward a 21st-century model of a good geriocentric nation. Maybe it will need to give up its current perch as the 3rd-largest economic power, go down a few notches and just become either more Canadian or Swiss...at least in terms of welfare. When I was living in Japan, I had to make 8 monthly payments a year of approximately 30,000 yen each for National Health Insurance...and we still had to pay 30% of the medical bill on visiting the doctor. I think OHIP is still a relative godsend...at least for now.