Thursday, February 05, 2009

Briefly, Before I Think

As regards Prime Minister Asō Tarō's purported declaration to his fellow Liberal Democratic Party leaders that he will not be accepting the 20,000 yen due him through the 2 trillion yen handout proposal, the prime minister today is denying all the published accounts of what he supposedly said.

Reports had him at the meeting, thinking out loud that as a rich man he could not accept the government's handout. That the point of the proposition is for every taxpayer to receive the money, then spend it, thus giving the economy a kick in the pants, has been the the defense that Francisco has been repeating over and over in the Diet.

Were we dealing with almost anyone else (former prime minister Mori Yoshirō being a notable exception) Prime Asō Tarō's contemptuous dismissal of the news reports - "That is not something that would be said at a meeting of the executive board" -- would have some weight. Unfortunately, dear Francisco suffers from an extraordinary lightness of being: the course of his life is strewn with similar incidents of incredibly inappropriate phrases at indelicate times.

As for the plan to save Japan's economy by shrinking the size of the Diet and cutting the salaries of Diet members -- a trial balloon that floated in from out of nowhere -- it seems to be the handiwork of the New Kōmeitō. The party will be submitting a bill abolishing 30 district seats in the House of Representative, reducing the number of district seats from 300 to 270 and total House of Representatives seats from 480 to 450. New Kōmeitō Secretary-General Kitagawa Kazuo is quoted as saying he wants the bill cutting Diet salaries to pass in this Diet session.

First, that the New Kōmeitō's fingerprints are all over this plan to mess with the number of Diet members comes as no surprise. It pushed hard for the 2000 cut that dropped the number of members of the House of Representatives from 500 to 480.

Second, are New Kōmeitō's leaders out of their blinking minds? Oh sure, they can go to their own constituents with the message, "You see, we are like you, tightening our belts, sadly letting surplus people go" -- as if the Diet were a medium-sized law factory or a big, unhappy family.

If the whole point of policy making is to play pantomimes for your voters, sure, this is fantastic theater.

If, on the other hand, the nation's legislators have a duty to focus their attention on measures that could keep the nation from hurtling toward economic breakdown -- and not upon diddling around with the Diet's makeup or making symbolic reductions in the salaries paid out to the members -- then wow, is this ever a bad pair of proposals.

The corrosive effects of the New Kōmeitō's constant foistings of nonsense projects (the 2 trillion yen handout is also though to be one of their works of legislative art) upon the government is killing the LDP...and rule #1 for parasitic lifeforms is never kill your host.

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