February 10, 2009
Are we turning Japanese?
By James Wilson

Quote of the Day: "Are we turning Japanese? I really think so." -- The Vapors

Subject: What we are failing to learn from Japan's example

"The Vapors" were a band whose only big hit, "Turning Japanese," could be the theme song for the so-called stimulus package. Congress too is a one-hit wonder whose one solution to every problem is more government spending.

But they should pay attention to the example of Japan, and turn back from their desire to "turn us Japanese."

Russell Roberts and Tyler Cowen point to a New York Times story dissecting the Japanese government's previous attempts to spend its way to economic recovery . . .

"Japan’s rural areas have been paved over and filled in with roads, dams and other big infrastructure projects, the legacy of trillions of dollars spent to lift the economy from a severe downturn caused by the bursting of a real estate bubble in the late 1980s. During those nearly two decades, Japan accumulated the largest public debt in the developed world — totaling 180 percent of its $5.5 trillion economy — while failing to generate a convincing recovery."

"In total, Japan spent $6.3 trillion on construction-related public investment between 1991 and September of last year, according to the Cabinet Office. The spending peaked in 1995 and remained high until the early 2000s, when it was cut amid growing concerns about ballooning budget deficits."

"In the end, say economists, it was not public works but an expensive cleanup of the debt-ridden banking system, combined with growing exports to China and the United States, that brought a close to Japan’s Lost Decade. This has led many to conclude that spending did little more than sink Japan deeply into debt, leaving an enormous tax burden for future generations."

"Dr. Ihori of the University of Tokyo did a survey of public works in the 1990s, concluding that the spending created almost no additional economic growth. Instead of spreading beneficial ripple effects across the economy, he found that the spending actually led to declines in business investment by driving out private investors. He also said job creation was too narrowly focused in the construction industry in rural areas to give much benefit to the overall economy."

"Critics also said decisions on how to spend the money were made behind closed doors by bureaucrats, politicians and the construction industry, and often reflected political considerations more than economic."

Please use our quick and easy Educate the Powerful System to send Congress another message opposing the "stimulus" bill.

Cut and paste the above quotes from the "New York Times" into your person comments. You can also give them the link to the full story --

Please also use this Dispatch to educate, recruit, and increase the pressure on Congress. Forward this message to others and Digg it on our blog.

Perry Willis
Communications Director, Inc.

NOTE: Some music fans may want to write us quarreling with our assertion that "The Vapors" were a one hit wonder. It's true that the band did have two other songs that cracked the top one hundred in Britain, but we stand by our claim. Many people know "Turning Japanese." Few people know any of the other songs.

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