The United States is "survival of the fittest"? Ahem, ever heard of Nigeria?
By David Pilling in Tokyo--As its population ages, Japan should carve out a middle way between the social security systems of Scandinavia and that of the US, according to finance minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, one of several contenders to replace Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister.
Mr Tanigaki, who has just returned from a profile-raising trip to Washington, told a seminar yesterday that Japan needed to steer a course between the high benefit, high tax burden model of Scandinavia and what he described as the "survival of the fittest" model of the US.
I have always wondered about the political viability of constantly appealing to the mean. Moderation is a good thing, yes, and many Japanese leadership contests have come down to everyone accepting the moderate, humble, middle choice.
The public is aware, however, that moderation is more than just finding two positions and staking out a point equidistant from both. Policies have to possess internal coherence; they cannot be just pasted-together chimerae "half of this and half of that".
Tanigaki seems unaware of the increasing sophistication of his countrymen and women. The people are no longer being bowled over by Asahi Shimbun editorial board-type appeals to the middle way.
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