Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mañana con arroz

Yoshikawa Miho of Reuters has an excellent article out on the insanity of rice agriculture policy. You cannot imagine a more ridiculous and counterproductive (literally) way of managing land.

Rice subsidies and acreage limits are classic examples of "after the next election" problems. Everyone knows the current policy is nuts; everyone with a brain knows the current policy cannot drag on indefinitely. But no one can do anything until "after the next election." Except, of course, there is always a next election, even immediately after you hold one.

So bad policies live on - making a mockery of both democracy and the nation's patient citizens.


Anonymous said...

Yoshikawa's article is excellent but, if anything, it UNDERstates the case by leaving out several critical factors. Japan is failing to produce adequate foodstuffs to feed its own population (about 40% self-sufficiency) while having very substantial amounts of farmland (and forest land) in unproductive modes. Further, the extremely distorted political system (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestries, MAFF, included along with various other Ministries) perpetuates what has been identified as a dysfunctional system. However, there are more elements.
1. The aging of the farm population means that few young people are entering the profession. This is exacerbated by land costs which effectively preclude "newcomers" from becoming farmers
2. Further, there is a drumbeat of information to young people that living in rural areas, and doing jobs like farming, are very, very "not cool".
3. In addition, the inheritance taxes are such that even those (few) young people who are born into a land owning farming and want to continue may or may not be able to.
4. Other factors, such as a) the almost complete inability of the government to limit expanding urban sprawl or b) MAFF's insistence on Japanese cedar ("cryptomeria" or "sugi") monoculture simply add to the mess. This list could be easily expanded.
It is interesting that while there are dozens of studies and other "voices" that have identified all of these difficulties and suggested quite a variety of interesting and possibly effective solutions, the LDP (in particular) and MAFF have been unable to move effectively in any direction

Anonymous said...

Whats with the title in spanish??

Anonymous said...

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. : H.L. Mencken

But as Winston Churchill once commented, they've tried ALL the other systems of government...