Aug 15, 2012

Economics of austerity don't add up

Do Europe’s budget-cutting austerity-minded planners understand simple math? They say they have to embrace austerity policies to reduce excessive national debt. But those policies inevitably cut tax revenues more than they cut spending. National debt increases rather than decreases. Worse, recovery from the economic ...

Jul 4, 2012

Reforming Japan's universities

Media reports say Japan’s education bureaucrats are considering allowing students with “stellar” academic records to graduate from high school before they turn 18. In other words, the required three-year stint at high school might be cut to two. In most countries, allowing university entry ...

Apr 30, 2012

Fact-checking Japan's critics

The better U.S. media now use fact-checkers and truth meters to debunk outrageous claims by politicians. Maybe Japan should do the same toward its critics. High on the truth-meter treatment list would be the never-ending claims that Japan is a racist society. One of ...

Mar 1, 2012

Labor showdown in Canberra

It was a battle of the opposites. On one side we had ex-Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, 54, a former diplomat with baby-face looks, devoted wife and family, carefully cultivated religious persona and impeccable CV. Opposed was current Prime Minister Julia Gillard, 51, ex-lawyer, ...

Feb 9, 2012

Dubious reasons to attack Iran

It is hard not to be impressed by the one-dimensional reasons the United States gives for its various animosities. U.S. antagonism to Tehran began in 1979 when some revolution-minded Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy there and held 55 staff members as hostages for ...

Dec 29, 2011

North Korea's Khrushchev

Scenes of Pyongyang citizens wailing the death of “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il remind us how easily dictatorships can manipulate public opinion. But are the rest of us so immune to similar manipulation? The commentaries after Kim’s death tell us repeatedly that the deceased ...

Nov 30, 2011

TPP: APEC's anti-China son?

The French have a saying: “The more something changes, the more it remains the same thing.” When the forerunner of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) grouping first emerged four decades ago, the aim was to create a trade bloc that would exclude China. Now ...

Sep 22, 2011

The economic morality play

World attention focuses on the problems of the Greek economy — no doubt with a large helping of schadenfreude added: There, but for the grace of God, go the rest of us is the thought. But Japan has already been there. Debt relative to ...

Jul 20, 2011

Murdoch's moral rise and fall

Recent U.K. phone-hacking revelations have made the Australian-born media tycoon Rupert Murdoch a symbol of all that is wrong with U.K. tabloid media — scoop mania, rampant political bias, sex, sensationalism and trivia. But it was not always like that. The Rupert Murdoch whom ...