Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Flap over the AIG Bonuses Reveal Our Origins

Looking at the flap over the AIG bonuses, I couldn’t help thinking, we’ve been there…
Does anyone remember the flap over the rollout of the Late-Term Elderly Medical Care Insurance System last year? You know, how all the old folks were offended by the name “Late-Term" and how elderly dependents were killing themselves in despair because a couple of thousand yen or so were being automatically deducted from their public pensions instead of being billed to the heads of their households (mostly one of their children) and...and I could go on, but my point is: This was the watershed event (or “tipping point” as pundits call it these days) for the short, unhappy life of the Fukuda administration, while all the while the infinitely more important question of the long-term viability of the Japanese pension system was given a pass. And how often has this pattern been replicated over the last three Japanese administrations?

Fast forward: President Obama’s enemies are saying, It’s 165 million f@cking dollars, while his friends are saying, It’s only 165 million dollars… Guess who wins? So Obama’s kingdom is to be lost for want of a nail?

We focus on the emotive, the tangible, the immediate—it is what we are comfortable with, what served us so well for so many years—while we neglect the detached, the abstract, the distant. We are, at heart, the little band of apes that only yesterday stepped out of the African savannas, when survival was about the here and now.

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