Friday, August 19, 2005

Japanese politicians promise spending cuts

Elections are usually a repulsive contest where all the politicians try to outdo the other candidates in handing out money looted from the tax payers. A "advanced auction in stolen goods" as H.L. Mencken put it. Yet in a story (not available online for nonsubscribers) in the latest issue of The Economist, it is revealed that the Japanese election has a much more pleasant character. Prime Minister Kuizumi and his Liberal Dmocratic Party has undertaken some structural reform and reduced the wasteful public investments from 8% of GDP to 5% of GDP and is promising to continue along that path in order to reduce Japan's large budget deficit without raising taxes. But the opposition party Democratic Party of Japan now wants to go even further and cut public investment in half to 2.5% of GDP and implement privatisations. They also want to improve Japanese relations with the rest of the world by withdrawing troops from Iraq and not continue Kuizumi's provocative visits to the Yakusuni shrine, which in China and Korea is regarded as a shrine in honor of Japanese war criminals.

Of course, for a hard-core libertarian this is far too moderate. But for being politicians it is very good-if they keep their promises which we of course cannot be sure of.


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