Tuesday, June 26, 2012

About that Consumption Tax thing...

I've written here previously (various comments as well) about the Noda naikaku (cabinet; administration)'s remarkably ill-considered plans to raise the Consumption Tax (a.k.a. Sales Tax) from 5% to 10% over three years...

***Caution: baseball reference follows***

Well, here's the wind-up... (Mainichi News) (BBC)

...and the pitch.

It's a long fly ball... it's well hit... it looks like it is going... going...

But, before anyone signals a 'home run', I've got a couple of things to point out:

Yes, 363-96 in the Lower House is a crushing success for the ruling party. But they only got there by getting what's left of the Liberal Democratic Party (Jiyuu-minshutou; LDP) to join in support... so much for being the Opposition... and the minor LDP-allied welfare-loving New Komeito (Shin Koumeitou; NKP; the name is no longer related to its literal meaning) as well.

Voting against *their own party* was the Ozawa Faction (roughly 50 strong) of the Democrats (Minshutou; DPJ), where the always opportunist Ozawa Ichirou (I. Ozawa) saw a chance to get on the populist side of the vote. OK, he's still not one of the good guys... but he's on the side of right for his own reasons this time.

However... There are still three ways (at least) that this bill can die.

Big #1: Ozawa leads his faction out of the DPJ and forms a new party in Opposition. This, if 54 Representatives leave the DPJ, would put the Noda administration in a minority in the Lower House. That is an opportunity that not even the recently-pathetic LDP could resist. No-Confidence; Down comes the government; New elections called. Any bill pending dies with the session end.

#2: The vote was yesterday, local time. If this morning the sun comes up and every LDP Representative finds his e-mail and voice-mail queue filled with outraged calls from constituents, it would be shall-we-say more difficult for LDP Party HQ to order strict party compliance with the support agreement. Without that order, when the bill comes up in the Upper House (where the Democrats lack a majority) it might get sent back. Or the debates might be long, nasty and inconclusive. Sent back means the Lower House has to marshal a supermajority (2/3) to bulldoze the bill through. That, without a party order binding LDP Lower House Representatives (who face the next election fairly soon, snap or scheduled), is unlikely to get the same votes the bill did this time. No supermajority, the bill dies.

#3: Even if LDP Party HQ orders a line vote in favor... there just aren't that many LDP Reps left with totally secure seats. While #2 above is based on purely public outcry (also, read the big papers in the morning and see if the major media joins the outcry), the real support base for the remaining LDP strongholds is in the power of local supporting associations. Interest Groups. Business and Agriculture Interest Groups. How many of them are feeling "understanding" about this whole matter? How many of the leaders of such groups are thinking of making a few calls around in the morning... maybe to a Small-Government Low-Tax Party like "Your" Party (Minna no tou; Everyone's Party; once a LDP renegade effort, now a rising party in its own right)? Just one or two major supporting associations in a given electoral district signalling such displeasure would put the Fear of God, er fear of unemployment in the local Representative. Suicidal loyalty to one's party being quite the past thing here in Japan, some large number of Reps under such pressure can be expected to either miss the vote or go against the LDP leadership... losing one's party affiliation isn't career ending (cf. Suzuki Muneo, darn him)... losing one's supporting associations is.

So, yeah, it's bad. If I were to pick the one thing that would further depress consumption in the Japanese economy and feed the deflationary spiral, it would be just such a Consumption Tax increase as is moving through the Kokkai (Parliament) right now.

Whether that "long fly ball" is a home run for the Noda administration, or a long out caught at the wall, remains to be seen.

But the outfielder is going to have to climb the wall to bring this one back, I think.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fausta on Lugo

H/T to CompHyp friend Fausta Wertz.

Lugo will be spending more time with his families.


For those not following this, the administration of ex-President Lugo of Paraguay was one of the more distant of the ALBA-linked regimes in Latin America. Clipping his wings is another step in the roll-back of Chavista-inspired misgovernment across the continent.

I hope the people of Paraguay get a fairer hearing than Honduras got when M. Zelaya was taken down.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Syriaous Trouble

Readers here might well remember a discussion of Japan's need to replace its long-serving F-4EJ kai  Phantom II jet fighters, and how in comments it was pointed out that they lacked survivability against any reasonably modern surface-to-air-missile defenses...

Well, the Turks just got a lesson about just such a problem. Crew still unaccounted for. Ouch.

This is also further evidence, unfortunately, that the regime in Syria thinks they are going to get away with whatever they do in the course of prosecuting their little Civil War, er, irregular revolutionary uprising.

Somehow, I suspect the Turks will have something to say about that...


Important note for those concerned about how this fits in with the obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) to support member-state Turkey. The short form is: the Middle East south of Turkey is out-of-region, so any Article 5 claim by Turkey would be based on Syrian attacks into Turkey... which haven't clearly happened yet. But, if I recall correctly, Article 4 calls for mutual assistance and that may well be coming Turkey's way upon request, and lots of it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Update: And then the Title can be entered.

OK, the compose window works now...

...but you may notice a lack of a Title...

...because that still doesn't work. I can click on the "Post title" entry, but I can't enter anything.

Let's see if it will post.



It does! That means: ((quick edit later)) AH HAH! I can edit the title in an existing posting. We have a work-around until Blogger gets a clue.

Update 2: as of Sunday, 24.June, things are working as designed again. Hurrah!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


A dear friend, speaking to me a little over a year ago about the matter that has caused my many recent distractions, reminded me of the surgeon's wisecrack about bad things:
"All bleeding eventually stops."
Well, I'm not sure the problem this time has stopped, but it is out of my face for a while. Let's see if I can't do some good here while I've the chance.

Usual thread posting resumes Monday, 18.June.

Thanks for waiting, All.


Update Monday: Due to some mysterious new bug in Blogger, I can't create any new Topic Tread postings.

Update 2 Tuesday: Problem persists. Damn it.

Update 3 Wednesday: Problem persists. It isn't anything here (no changes to my set-up since posting this thread successfully on the 17th). Feedback to Google Blogger sent. Sending again.

Update 4 Thursday: Problem persists. No feedback from Blogger yet. ***See the comments on this thread for ongoing discussions, please.***

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Open Push

Same Story, Different Day. Just Worse.

Hope you All are well out there.

Here's an Open thread just to keep things available here. yadayada Rules; yadayada Play Nice.

Be back when I can be.