Tuesday, January 06, 2009

To Take or Not to Take: the 12,000 Yen Giveaway

Cabinet members and the LDP and New Komeito leadership hold regular liaison meetings. At the latest such session today, Hiroyuki Hosoda, the LDP Secretary-General (deputy to Prime Minister Aso, who, following tradition, doubles as LDP President) insisted that Diet members take the 12,000 yen offered to each resident in Japan as part of the second-tranche economic stimulus package put forth by the Aso administration and spend it all. The thrust of Hosoda’s argument appears to be that Diet members are morally obligated to spend the money in order to goose the economy.

Now that would be sound advice, except that the Prime Minister himself has gone on the record to promise that he would not take the money and suggest that wealthy people who took the money were:
さもしい, as in (selfish; self‐seeking; mean; 《fml》 self‐interested
さもしい根性 《fml》 a mean mind; 《fml》 one's baser self
さもしい心から 《fml》 from base [sordid] motives
さもしいことをする stoop so low 《as to do
The giveaway itself is a sensitive subject in the first place for the Prime Minister, who had reluctantly acceded to the New Komeito’s demand for an income tax refund that has since mutated into the 12,000-yen per-head, 2 trillion-yen, money-from-the-skies scheme. It is particularly painful for the Prime Minister because the giveaway has not been popular with the voters. Just as important, he (and the LDP) mishandled the issue in ways big and small before the relevant parties settled on its final form. The whole affair is credited with much of the blame in the Prime Minister’s plummeting fortunes, and rightfully so. Can anything better symbolize the plight of the beleaguered Prime Minister than the sight of his own second-in-command openly contradicting him in front of Cabinet Ministers and party bigwigs?

But the Prime Minister does have a point. A Diet member makes so much money compared to the average Jun that it’s hard to show that the 12,000 yen has been recycled back to the Japanese economy in the form of more consumption.

However, there is an easy way for the wealthy people to prove that they have actually spent an extra 12,000 yen: buy something with that money that you would never, ever dream of buying. Rich people will still have all the money that they need to keep buying whatever they were going to buy anyway. And this is where your humble blogger can be of help to the Secretary-General. You see, Hiroyuki Hosoda is a fellow METI alumnus, so I think I know him a little better than you my dear readers, and in a better position to suggest some things for purchase that he would never be buying on his own. Namely:
this, 4,879 Yen (including tax); and
this, 1,260 Yen(ditto)
They add up to 6,139 Yen, more than half the necessary expenditures. I’m sure my senpai can come up with other stuff that he doesn’t need. Just in case, though, I have a suggestion that covers most of the rest of the money for the consummate conservative pol:
here, 1896 Yen;
here, 1812 Yen; and
here, 2065Yen;
for a total of 5773 Yen.
Add them up, and it comes to 11,912 Yen. I know, I know, the Secretary-General is still 78 Yen short. To which I say, let my senpai keep at least that much; you never know how much longer he’ll have a job.

Actually, I had a suggestion for another, small item that would let him clear the 12,000 bar with a little room to spare. But he’s a healthy 64; you never know, he might need it for himself?

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