That Used To Be an Outrage

Adding to what DougJ said, I’m old enough that I remember it was an outrage when you called American workers lazy:

Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa`s remarks Monday that American workers lack drive and a strong work ethic not only elevated the war of words between the world`s two biggest economic rivals, they highlighted a growing gap in perception that afflicts U.S.-Japanese diplomatic relations.

Speaking during a parliamentary discussion of the declining American economy, Miyazawa said:

“I have long felt that (Americans) lack a work ethic . . . to live by the sweat of their brow.

“Because so many American university graduates were recruited into Wall Street, the number of engineers in charge of developing goods has declined.“ The Bush administration and several American politicians known for their tough stance against Japan responded quickly and forcefully.

“These kinds of comments are probably helpful in the sense of stirring the rages in all of us,“ said White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater.

“Beyond that, I would say that the American work force is second to none, that the American work ethic is legendary and has promoted the greatest prosperity in the world and throughout the world, including countries like Japan.“

House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) was more emphatic in his denunciation of the Japanese leader`s remarks, calling them an “ignorant expression of Japanese racism. . . . Americans work hard every day, and our productivity is higher than Japan`s.“

When the angry reaction began rolling in from Washington, Japan`s Foreign Ministry quickly issued a statement saying that Miyazawa “has no intention whatsoever of criticizing American workers“ and that the term “work ethic“ was used only to explain the “philosophy of work.“

Fitzwater said Washington regarded that as an “apology.“ President Bush said Miyazawa had “gone out of his way to make clear he is not denouncing all American workers.“

That was 1992, which in America is like ancient history. Interesting that what used to be called an insult is now the received view among our Galtian overlords.

Looks like Miyazawa wasn’t wrong about his Wall Street v. engineers remarks, either, was he?



Strapping young bucks not looking for work

Remember that if fiscal austerity helps keep the unemployment high, it will just be “structural unemployment” resulting from the laziness and ineptitude of the American working class (via):

It really makes you despair: we’ve been over and over the evidence, and there’s not a hint in the data that a mismatch between occupations and jobs can explain any important fraction of the jobless rate.

Sometimes I think there may not be enough strapping young bucks to account for all the ingrates soaking up gubmint unemployment benefits, that there could be some meth-addicted white trash on the job too, maybe some former union workers too.

The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds told me that his firm’s investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy. In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle class didn’t really matter.

How about a big Charlie Rose round-table about how the American middle-class doesn’t deserve jobs or health care because they’re all a bunch of fat lazy fucks who couldn’t cut it in China?