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Ed Driscoll

Turning Japanese? I Really Think So

January 9th, 2013 - 12:54 pm

In the 1980s, leftist economists urged America to become more like Japan. Or as Greg Easterbrook  wrote in 2010 at Reuters:

The epitome of this thinking was a 1980 book called “Japan As Number One,” by Ezra Vogel of Harvard, which became a bestseller in Japan and sold well in the United States, too. “It is a matter of urgent national interest for Americans to confront Japanese successes,” Vogel warned, before Japan takes control of the global economy. As Meredith Woo of the University of Virginia has written of the early-1980s U.S. mindset reflected by this book, “Japan seemed superior to America in every way.”

You know the rest: the Japanese economy stagnated in the 1990s while the U.S. economy roared, Japan replaced Turkey as the “sick man” of major nations, the Japanese experienced a real-estate crash, low growth, deflation – and MITI was folded in 2001, after compiling a track record of one bad decision after another.

And Easterbrook doesn’t even explore Japan’s ongoing demographic meltdown — but California is starting to, as Steve Bartin spots on his Newsalert blog: “California has fewer kids, more elderly:”

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

The number of children in California is on the decline, the number of elderly is on the rise and fewer people are moving to the state, according to a new report that argues the state will have to rely on fewer people to prop up its economy in the future.

The numbers aren’t good:

The report, released Tuesday, found that the number of children younger than 10 fell by more than 187,000, or 3.6 percent, from 2000 to 2010, and could drop 100,000 more by 2020.

But what’s the problem? California merely took the Chronicle’s advice from 2008:

Forget the twisty straws, Tootsie rolls and Dora the Explorer plates with matching cups, hats and tablecloth. There are signs that more parents would like to.

Anxious about the economy, global warming and our national image as people who would rent a limo for a kid’s party while a polar bear’s ice floe melts, many are toning down the trappings of that classic annual ritual, the blowout birthday party. They are saying no to plastic toys and water bottles, paper plates, gift wrap and new toys. There is even a modest backlash against the goody bag, the sack of candy and plastic knickknacks usually thrust into each sticky hand at the end of parties.

* * * * * *

“There is nothing more bacchanalian than a kid’s birthday party,” said Sarah Lane, a founder of Washington state’s Progressive Kid, which has a Web site with suggestions on how to raise kids with good values. “You should see what gets thrown away. It’s disgusting.”

San Francisco has long been avoiding those bacchanalian kids’ birthday parties, in favor of, well, other bacchanalian pursuits, which is why, in 2005, even AP noted that “San Francisco has the smallest share of small-fry of any major U.S. city.” It’s the one statistic San Francisco continues to remain atop. So it shouldn’t be all that surprising to its residents if the rest of the state if catching up.

Oh, and speaking of California, now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

Living the Turquoise Dream, baby.

Related: “As new fiscal crises near, Democrats seek more tax increases.” Can you say “Red Queen’s Race?” I knew that you could — even if McClatchy, with its hilarious “truth to power” slogan, can’t.

Update: Linking to this post, Bill Quick of Daily Pundit looks at San Francisco’s dearth of youngsters and writes:

The two reasons for this have nothing to do with culture, per se, but instead are dictated the immense local cost of living, particularly housing costs, and a terrible public school system focused primarily on “educating” illegal aliens and gangster wannabes.

No responsible parents want to raise kids here. To any sane person (without enough money to pay the piper for a decent house, private transportation, and private schooling) trying to do so is akin to child abuse.

Indeed. As I said, it sounds like those conditions are rapidly being exported from San Francisco to the rest of California.

Unexpectedly.

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