December 3, 2004

THE HECK WITH TOMORROW, I'LL BE DEAD BY THEN:

The land of rising inequities: The traditional Japanese ideal of economic egalitarianism is in a shambles. The result is a polarization of incomes into a group of urban, highly skilled or older rich at one end of the salary spectrum and a growing number of rural, young and poor job-hopping automatons at the other. (Bennett Richardson, 12/03/04, Asia Times)

In addition to a widening income gap between skilled and unskilled, and rural and urban, there is also evidence of growing disparity between younger and older workers. People aged 60 and older are estimated to own more than 50% of the total 1.4 quadrillion yen (US$13.6 trillion) in financial assets held by individuals in Japan, and demand for services catering to elderly clients is surging.

Many firms are loath to sack inefficient employees in their 50s who entered the workforce expecting to be suckled from the cradle to the grave. Instead, companies tend to wait for them to retire, while opening less entry-level positions to compensate. Once the company has sufficiently reduced its number of full-time workers, it replaces them with part-timers or short-term contract workers.

Part-timers now make up roughly a quarter of the Japanese workforce, according to the Ministry of Public Management and Home Affairs. Firms generally pay these employees much less than regular full-timers, and if a worker remains stuck in the part-time labor pool for more than a few years, the chances of landing regular employment diminish.

The result is a polarization of incomes into a group of urban, highly skilled or older rich with luxury European leather bags and imported cars at one end of the salary spectrum, and a growing number of rural, young and job-hopping poor who are forced to shop at discount stores stocked with cheap Chinese goods.


Shocking! The wealthy childless elderly don't give a good goshdarn about the future of their nation and its young...

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 3, 2004 10:17 AM
Comments

What is so shocking about the fact there is not enough work to go around while at the same time plenty of wealth for us all? We should/will all be working "part time".

This is the only thing countries with stable populations have not figured out how to balance.

I just hope we can avoid socialism which destroys wealth side of the equation.

Posted by: Perry at December 3, 2004 10:34 AM

What do you think will happen to all the money those childless people have?

Posted by: Brandon at December 3, 2004 11:13 AM

What money?

Posted by: oj at December 3, 2004 12:04 PM

The "wealthy childless elderly" that you mentioned at the end of the posting. The money that they have.

Posted by: Brandon at December 3, 2004 1:20 PM

They spend it dying.

Posted by: oj at December 3, 2004 1:42 PM

It would certainly be a miracle of budgeting if all of them managed to use up all of their money just prior to expiring. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you mean that the ones who have money left over are offset by the ones who run out too soon.

Wouldn't that then mean that health care would be a huge growth business in Japan? Perhaps all the young ones will be working in that industry.

Posted by: Brandon at December 3, 2004 2:11 PM

They don't have enough young ones and the old die on the government's nickel, which is extracted from the young.

Posted by: oj at December 3, 2004 2:14 PM

So are the "wealthy childless elderly" wealthy or not? Because, if they are dying on government money, then they're not wealthy.

Posted by: Brandon at December 3, 2004 2:29 PM

Brandon:

Doon't you have grandparents or great grandparents or anything? You retire with some money, you make the government transfer much more to you. By the time you die you have relatively little left in most cases, but you die in comfort.

Posted by: oj at December 3, 2004 4:43 PM

That's more or less how they went. But none of my grandparents nor great-grandparents could be remotely considered wealthy.

Posted by: Brandon at December 3, 2004 5:56 PM

Brandon:

Any idea how rare that comfort is in human history or even in most of the modern world? Our elderly are wealthy.

Posted by: oj at December 3, 2004 6:03 PM
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