Saturday, December 13, 2008

Till Death Do Us Part

Dear Brother Francisco,

The Yomiuri Shimbun, the newspaper whose first impulse is to burst into embarrassing, slobbering applause for whatever the Liberal Democratic Party's current leadership is trying to foist upon the public--Pravda-by-the-Palace, if you will-- has given up on you:

Aso silent on opposition to tobacco tax hike
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Taro Aso's latest decision not to raise the tobacco tax reflects his failure to override the ruling parties' opposition to the hike due to his weakening leadership following a sharp plunge in his Cabinet's approval rating.

A senior Liberal Democratic Party member criticized the government for lack of prior consultation on the delicate issue.

The government and the ruling parties decided Thursday to shelve a plan to raise the tobacco tax, one of the key elements of tax reform for fiscal 2009.

The government had decided to reduce the natural increase in social security spending by 220 billion yen each fiscal year. The idea on the tobacco tax hike was floated by the Finance Ministry as a stable revenue source to offset smaller-than-anticipated cuts in the automatic increase in social security expenditures...
When you cannot get your party and the New Kōmeitō (the real opponent to the tobacco tax rise due to its sister organization's bankrolling of tens of thousands of small retail outlets) to approve the revenue-raising measures necessary to keep healthcare and social spending at its current levels--this through an additional tax on an addictive substance that hastens the death and physical impairment of hundreds of thousands of citizens every year--and instead you allow the ruling coalition to just cut the spending, this the midst of a once-in-a-century economic downturn--then you and your party have to go.

Please call the election on Monday.

I am sorry. Anything is better than this.

1 comment:

Jan Moren said...

"Anything is better than this."

A sentiment I can sympathize with.

But then I reflect on the kind of political movements that in Japan are represented by uniformed people in black speaker vans. I consider how people like that have tended to find their way to the levers of power exactly when your sentiment became the norm in a society.

And I realize that no, anything is not better than that. In fact, as bad as the state of politics may currently be, quite a lot of other options are still much, much worse.