A Convoluted World with Japanese Americanized, Americans Japanized and Germans Germanized

Sunday, February 08 2009 @ 11:42 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

The maverick congressman looks to have grown haggard in his most recent video,
but he still remains optimistic about America's future.

Currently I am working on a provisional closing of my earthly books. Soon after I got started with the task, I realized that I should totally write off sizable pieces of asset, both tangible and intangible, in which I have invested my time, energy, money and emotions in the last 46 years. The junk that has hollowed out my balance sheet is my Americanism.

I have studied, worked, made a family, fathered kids and destroyed the family ties, all in a way an average American might have conducted himself in this country where civil liberty is an empty promise. I was Americanized from tip to toe, until that person of African ancestry became the President of the United States.

Since WWII, every nation in the world has been more or less Americanized. But no other sovereign nation has imported the American way of life as thoroughly and quickly as my country of birth has. When two different cultures meet, an allout conflict is unavoidable, most of the time. But that has never been the case with this country. Because Japan had long lost its cultural identity since it got into China's cultural orbit in the 5th century, it could absorb any foreign influence like a sponge in subsequent centuries. It was what I call a cultural salad that had paved the way for Japan's postwar Americanization.

I acquired my American way of thinking quite differently. Otherwise, I wouldn't have thought about writing it off at this late stage of my life.

What I found intolerable with today's America was the fact that there are unmistakable signs the vast majority of its people have been Japanized. For one thing, the Obama administration decided to set aside $33 billion for the State Children Health Insurance Program. Also the administration is going to fatten unemployment benefits while at the same time artificially creating 3 million nonvalue-creating jobs out of thin air. All in all, the stimulus package would eventually cost every American citizen $6,700, if the burden were to be evenly distributed. Now Obama and his followers are out of their minds. They wouldn't listen to the voices of reason, such as the one from Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, who asked, "Must we repeat Japan's stimulus mistakes?"

Obviously the half-a-century-old ties with the failing Japan has taken a heavy toll on America's health. Generally speaking, when two nations choose to stay with an incompatible partnership for too long, both peoples tend to emulate each other because they think that is the only way to make the relationship workable. In doing so they, more often than not, cherry-pick the easiest part to pick up. Usually the easiest part to imitate is found in the worst trait on the other end of the partnership. An empirical rule, which I have named "YY's Multiplication Theory," is always at work there. Whenever two incompatible traits mate, the outcome is 0.25 (0.5 x 0.5), instead of the intended 1.0 (0.5 + 0.5). In other words, the law of gravity governs incongruous crosscultural interchange at all levels. Small wonder that Obama's America is now repeating the same follies committed by its far eastern ally in the 1990s.

Most American friends of mine will not give a damn if they learn that the Yokohama-based obscure blogger has dropped his long-time love affair with America. Yet I am very sure that in the not-too-distant future, they will wake up amidst the huge ruins. At home they will find themselves having a bad hangover from the haphazardly-built welfare system and the overdose of bailouts. Overseas, they will be at a loss over what to do with the remains of the United Nations, the NPT, the U.S.-Japanese security treaty and the military bases in 130 countries around the world. Only then will they realize something was fundamentally wrong. Worse, still they won't have really learned their lessons from the suffering because nobody can tell what exactly was wrong.

In the course of closing my earthly books, I visited the Yokohama Branch of the Social Insurance Agency over the yearend. It took me five visits and more than 12 hours to make my actuarial questions understood by five different consultants sitting across the counters. It seemed to me that these zombie-like men had not been used to such essential queries about pension programs.

In the middle of second such meeting, the beefy guy in his mid-40s shed tears from his bloodshed eyes because he didn't understand my questions about the actuarial figures such as assumed and actual mortality rates, assumed and actual rates of return on investment, assumed and actual ratios of administrative expenses, etc. If I had raised my voice out of frustration, he must have burst into tears.

Despite my patient lectures on pension programs, most of my questions remained unanswered. All I got from them were piecemeal data which did not give a clear picture about how much, at the present value, I have contributed to the national pension plan and how much the country owes me as of now. But one thing is for sure; the media salient issues with the habitual embezzlement and misuse of our money are just the tip of the tip of the iceberg, and if I had to accept to write off what government-retained fund managers should have earned on my portion of the investment, still I would have to stay alive until I turn 90 to fully recover the principal portion of my entitlement. Now that my health has been dramatically deteriorating, I won't be able to reclaim what I have paid during my 46-year career by the last day of my life

My parting shot to the 5th counselor was, "You are all thieves." In response, the zombie said, "Yamamoto-san, it can't really be helped. After all, this is the social welfare system which is basically meant for income redistribution. The rich are supposed to support the poor, who can't afford to pay pension premiums." This didn't add up at all because I know very well that those who couldn't afford their pension dues have all gone homeless by now, or are hanging out at Internet cafes days and nights as "net cafe refugees." Even if there was some truth in his story, I would rather not support those social misfits at the cost of my own life which is already on the verge of sinking below the poverty line.

Some of my American friends keep telling me it's counterintuitive that Japan is on the verge of collapse, or has already collapsed. In effect, they want to say that it's not my country, but myself, that should take the blame for my misfortune. Admittedly, a good part of the severance pays I received in lump sum from two former employers vapored in alimony and I have lived most of my life like Aesop's grasshopper. But that does not make the robbery by the government any more permissible. I want these friends to show me the evidence that I do deserve the predicament I am going through as a pensioner. Maybe they don't like to hear an insider's account of Japan's inviability simply because they feel they are sharing with the Japanese the same boat which is about to sink.

My experience with the zombies at the Social Insurance Agency brings me to this question: Are Germans also being Americanized as they look at first glance? Do they really think and act like the Americans? Are they constantly ripped off by their government? The answer is, "Not quite."

The U.S. Census Bureau has tended to obscure the ethnicity-mix of the American population for an obvious and ridiculous reason. So you can't tell exactly what ethnic group is the largest of all. But I am reasonably sure that people of Germanic ancestry outnumber those of Irish, English, Hispanic or Chinese origin, let alone those coming from African continent. That would mean that it is not quite accurate to say the people of the Federal Republic of Germany are also being Americanized in the same way as the Japanese are. To be more precise, the Germans are being Germanized to a greater extent.

My late father admired them mainly for their technological prowess. I have never been a scientist myself, yet I admire their culture typically represented by the works of the likes of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and architectural works such as the cathedral completed in 1880 in the city of Koln. Every one of these creations constitutes its own microcosmos. This is something the Harvard-educated Santa Claus can never think of.

One Japanese scholar specializing in social security once likened the German welfare system rebuilt in the early 1970s to the cathedral and Beethoven's symphonies. What he wanted to say was that then Chancellor Willy Brandt and some other policymakers designed the system in an extremely methodical and principled way. Hence, there is an unparalleled logical consistency throughout the system. I am not saying the German system is flawless. But whenever a problem arises, they can readily identify and fix it with relative ease and without changing the underlying concept back and forth from one principle to the other.

If you are one of those surface-scratchers, you will see a certain resemblance between the Germans and the Japanese. It is true that both peoples look to be group-oriented. Sometimes they act like a monolith. But the important thing to note is that the Germans are not conformists. It's just that a good part of the Germans have been trained to conduct themselves in a highly-principled way.

Overall, they eclipses today's Americans and the Japanese of all times especially in terms of learning ability. The Japanese learned nothing from the war defeat and the Americans learned nothing, either, from Vietnam and Iraq.

The Germanic peoples may sometimes overdo things. But most important thing when you talk about their traits is that they tend to think:

Where there is no logical consistency, there is no ethical integrity - and vice versa.

Maverick congressman Ron Paul is a rare exception among his contemporaries. Perhaps that is in part because his ancestry is predominantly Germanic. Small wonder he always thinks in a strictly principled way. Although the 73-year-old former obstetrician looks increasingly weary these days, he says he still sees a ray of hope especially in young Americans who are seriously looking into the disastrous situation in search of a bright future. (See the YouTube video embedded at the top of this post.)

I wish I could share his unyielding optimism and untiring enthusiasm, but I won't be able to see the second American revolution before my earthly books are finally closed. Let me add that if the revolution comes too late, I may also miss a chance to witness Civil War II.

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