Sunday, January 30, 2011

Old Japanese

While I am not entirely sure I believe that Japan is doing as bad as is generally portrayed, it is pretty clear that they did hit a brick wall. What was going to be the big scary country surpassing America in every way reached a certain level than peaked.

While I am pretty disconnected from Japan, the impression I get is they had a great generation. The generation after World War 2 built the country up from the rubble and created a world class economy. The generation after never stepped up to continue the growth.

The New York Times has the best description of why this happened that I have ever seen. Asian countries just have too much respect for old people for their own good. Most big ideas come from people in their twenties, thirties, and forties. To really make progress a country needs as many of these people as possible working as much as possible. When an older generation gains too much power to block younger people from competing with them disaster is likely.

This is a common problem in democracy. Old people get to vote, while those under 18 do not. Because of this the government spends a lot more money supporting the elderly, than it does helping young people. This really can make progress difficult if the older generation gets too large. I expect to see it during the next twenty years in America unless the baby boomers eat themselves into shorter retirements.

An easy solution would be give the parents of children too young to vote an extra half vote per kid. I am willing to bet that schools would shape up real quick if we did.

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