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30 December 2008

Speech on U.S. welfare reform and its failure

On 21 of December, the speech by a professor from UC Riverside, Dr. Ellen Reese was held in Hosei University, Tokyo. The speaker was critical of US welfare reform done since 1996. The purpose of the speech was to acknowledge Japanese people the welfare reform such as 5 year time-out period was worst thing for Japan to follow.

The main points were as follows,

  1. The U.S. is the most affluent nation in the world but 1 in 10 people are living below poverty line. 1 in 5 children were living in the household of below poverty line.
  2. Poverty is concentrated among ethnic minorities and single mother households. 
  3. Federal poverty guideline was set in 1960s. It is already outdated.
  4. Welfare reform started in 1996 did not actually reduce the poverty but glossed over serious facts to reduce welfare recipients.
  5. A common myth is that the welfare recipients live extravagant lives, wasting tax payers's expense. In reality, federal public assistance does not provide enough money to lift a family out of poverty or even pay for all of a family's basic necessities.
  6. Private welfare contractors are cheating on welfare recipients by encouraging them to to ask friends, families and churches for help to keep most of the money they have to use for the recipients.
  7. The states with more Black people implement more strict policies on welfare.  
  8. Those who time-out of welfare are in harder situation than those who left welfare for other reasons.
  9. Time-out people, especially women have to rely on their former abusers, often their fathers and damage their mental and physical conditions.
  10. The states with more strict welfare policy have higher rate of child abuse, fostering and out-of-home care cases.

It is very sad to know such facts.

The U.S. has been a role model of Japan since the end of World War 2. Japan was occupied by the U.S. force and democratized by them.

Thanks to the U.S. distribution of the wealth in our country has become much more even than prewar time. The constitution given by the U.S. insures citizens' rights to have healthy and cultural lives, which the government has to support.

Now the situation has changed. The U.S. has become "Do not follow" model.

Since Iraq war, the U.S. has spent too much money on military. Why not they want to spend that amount of money for the poor people in their own territory. The economy is going bankrupt by financial crisis. It is time to change.


I hope that in next year Mr. Obama can change the things better, pulling their troops from outside their territory and concentrating poverty issue in his country. The U.S. is not superpower any more.

The below is You Tube clips that post part of the speech (2 parts, 13 minutes).



Part 2


06 January 2008

Short Novel: 4 American Hostages, Introduction

After The Flight to Tokyo, I am presenting an interesting and shocking story to you, Americans.

The story is fiction but based on what is really happening in America now.

The facts came from two books written by 2 Japanese women. One is Ms. Yumi Kobayashi's and the other is Ms. Mika Tsutsumi's. Please read the related posts.

The story took place in Baghdad, Iraq. 4 Americans were captive by Iraqi insurgents somewhere in Baghdad. Each of them represents American society.

One of them was Loretta, 24. She was from the very rich family, Boltons. Going back for 4 generations from Loretta, George Bolton established the family's wealth by finding an oil mine in Texas, late 19th century. Starting with the oil business, they ran resort hotels, military equipment company, and broadcasting corporations. She lived in Beverly Hills with her parents. She became a celebrity woman after she made a debut in her family's TV show. She had been criticized that she was too much spotlighted using her family's name and power. So she wanted to prove herself how she was brave and independent. Then she went to Baghdad to be in a show to entertain the soldiers.

Next was Kevin, 27. He was born in the rich family, too but not as rich as Loretta's. His father was a lawyer and mother was a physician. He, himself made a fortune by computer software business. He studied business in Harvard. He, himself prided himself as self-made millionaire. He manages his own computer software company in Silicon Valley. He came to Baghdad to distribute and inspect his company's brand new software for the military in Baghdad. His company and Loretta's family company were doing business together for the military.  

Third was John, 19. He was born in Michigan from a father who had worked for the auto-maker and a mother who worked as a secretary in a small company. But when Kevin was 17 and in high school. His father was laid-off. His parents cannot provide tuition for the college. So he decided to join the army to go to the college.

Last guy was Fernando, 17. His family were actually illegal immigrants. Fernado and his parents and a sister crossed the border from Mexico to California when he was 11. His father worked in farms at lower wages than minimum wage set by law. But his father later died by the accident. His mother, sister and Fernando had no place to work and live. They became penniless and homeless. They lived in a homeless facility. Fernando decided to join the army in exchange for the U.S. citizenship.

John and Fernando were in the squad to guard Loretta and Kevin heading towards the military base. But the squad was attacked. Some of the military personnels were killed but they were luckily saved and captured by the Iraqi insurgents.

They were taken to the house and sit on the floor face to face.

The insurgents demanded them to speak on the videotape they shoot. Speak to their government to beg them to withdraw the troops from Iraq immediately. If not, they would be killed.

Go on to Chapter 1.

The stoy is copyrighted by this blog's manager, me, Masagata.  

16 December 2007

Christmas in Japan

Can you believe Japanese celebrate Christmas?

 As you know, our people are predominantly Budhist. And even among Budhist, only a small portion of them practice it seriously. Most of our people are atheist.

Unlike Europe and the U.S. Japan's Christmas is basically commericial event. Good for business.

History goes back to late 19th century, Christmas was imported from the West. The below photo is taken from the top page of newspaper in December 1937.


As you see, it says "X'mas," that is misspelling. No ' is needed to spell Xmas (Christmas.) That is the ad of lady's boutique. "Christmas sale for lady's hats and furs." Surprisingly the same page posted the news article of Japanese imperial army's victory in Nanjing battle, former capital of China. That is where Nanjing massacre took place. I can't believe people celebrated the war victory and Christmas at the same time.

I "You Tube" today's Christmas in Tokyo.

Please click on Christmas in Tokyo.

First scene is the flyer for Christmas mass in church.

Second scene is brass band playing Christmas song.

Third scene is Santa Clause from Finland spoke and translater translated what he said.

He said, "I was surprised that there is no snow in Japan. So I had to use good Japanese automobile instead of a sleigh. In Finland, fairies are making presents for good children."

Last scenes were illumination of famous shopping mall, Shinjuku Southern Terrace. 




17:15 Posted in Society | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: christmas, religion, history

10 June 2007

Paris Hilton and other Americans

I just know the news Paris Hilton was ordered to return to the jail.

She was once released after her 3 days of imprisonment because of her medical condition. There was enormous criticism that she could have been released because of her fame and family's wealth.

This incident and Paris Hilton herself represent what is going on in America.

In Japan, a book "Cho-kakusa-shakai America no shinjitsu (Super Class society, The truth of America)" was published. It was written by Japanese economist, Yumi Kobayashi. She contends there are 4 distinctive classes in America.

The first is High-Society that Paris Hilton belongs to. In this class you have nothing to worry about. They are ruling class and their assets are secured. They control economy, politics and media. Even their offsprings do not have to worry. It is like middle-age European aristocracy.

The second is professional rich like IT tycoons such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They are smart and succeeded what they want by their talents. They seem to represent "American Dream."

But there are two other classes that are left behind and growing.

One is poor class and the other is dropped-out. The middle-class is shrinking.

They are so poor that they cannot even get an opportunity to succeed. They grow up in families that cannot afford to send them to proper schools. Higher education costs so much money. Yes, US schools usually provide scholarships. But in order to be awarded scholarships, students have to have certain level of education. The schools they come to simply cannot provide that.

America used to be called "land of opportunity" where no matter how poor you are born, you all have opportunity to go to higher class. But the things have changed now.

But why that happened is easily explained. First America's system of wealth distribution had not been changed drastically since the Civil War. For example, our country, Japan's wealth distribution system was drastically changed by the war that ended in 1945. Japan was forced to redistribute the wealth by new authorities which was controlled by US occupied force. Ruling class of pre-war era lost so much fortune. Such things never happened unless the country experience the war or revolution.

Also, America's middle-class wealthy life-style that was appearent in 1950's and 60's was in fact supported by the fact that the world wealth was concentrated in America until those days. Other countries suffered from the loss of the war. Enormous amount of wealth was poured into Americans so that most of Americans could receive high standard of living.

After recovery of those nations, America was no longer the only key player for the world economy. Naturally in free market society, winner grow and losers shrink. The gap between the two is getting bigger and bigger. The result is now. Only top 5% occupy 60% of the wealth. 45 million people don't have medical insurance. 31 million are in hunger.

Maybe we should rethink about America's economical system and its value.

I do not care Paris Hilton goes to jail or not. But I am dissappointed to know that a girl who just happened to be born in a very rich family is spotlighted so much. She is treated like feudal society's princess.