Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Cut the Waste": A Dangerous Slogan for Strengthening One's Political Base

At the heart of the "cut the waste" slogan is a move by those holding political power and people in the media to encouraging whistle-blowing and get people's blood boiling as we beat the bushes for waste. It's a dangerous gambit.

Look at how dictators such as Hitler or Stalin consolidated political power. They'd come up with a slogan that no one could be against. When people started voicing opposition to the ideas, they'd be attacked and suppressed. "Cut the waste" is one of those slogans that has served dictators well in the past.

There's no one against cutting the waste. If the political powers that be decide to start a movement around this slogan, no one can oppose it. If the media become cheerleaders for the idea, then those who oppose it will be the objects of witch-hunts and will be ostracized from society.

No one can come out against "cutting the waste." If they call for "eliminating wasteful spending of tax money," there isn't a soul who wouldn't agree with the concept. In today's Japan, when the mass media has such overriding influence, if it decides to pursue with all its might this idea of finding and eliminating waste, anyone criticizing them will be persona non grata. If the media speaks as one and says "the dam is a waste," no one will be able to challenge them by saying that the dam is necessary.

If the media decides to go after public works, saying they are wasteful, anyone standing up for the role of public works will be unheard above the din. If they decide to call the independent administrative agencies wasteful, the public will begin to hum the same tune. If the politicians use this and the media joins in, soon anyone who uses tax money will be "bad."

Just about every tax expenditure made by the previous coalition of Liberal Democrats and New Komeito is being labeled wasteful now. At the same time, if the Democratic Party of Japan does something, the media is quick to praise it.

Using a moral code of "getting rid of the waste" is a dangerous political ploy because it invites dictatorship.

In politics, balance is important. You need to be careful not to go too far. The Hatoyama administration and the media bring us closer to a dictatorship with their campaign against "waste."

Politics needs to be large-hearted. Using a slogan such as "cut the waste" as an excuse to trample on freedoms is an old trick of dictatorship. We can't afford to repeat this stupidity.