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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.  

31 May 2007

Suicidal Society, Japan

This week has been suicidal week for Japan. On Monday, minister of Agriculture and Fishery, Toshikatsu Matsuoka  committed suicide by hanging himself in the Diet members' residential building. He left several suicide notes including one to the whole nation. He was amid so many scandals. On the same day, famous singer, ZARD stepped down from the stair of the hospital, where she was hospitalized for her cancer cure. She did not leave any suicide note but it was speculated that she may have committed suicide. Next day, an old man who was the head of the organization linked to the minister's scandal jumped off the building.

Then on Wednesday, a high school girl hanged herself in her school. Everyday around 100 people committed suicide. It is estimated 1,000 attempted to kill themselves. Japan's suicide probability rate is double that of the U.S.

Why, so many?

We had the tradition that valued suicide act like harakiri of Samurai. It had been considered honorable.

We live in the society that an individual cannot speak out inner-self. It is called "Culture of shame."

We are living in kind of depressed society.

The theme to live in Japanese society is how to survive in such depressed and stressful environment.

21:00 Posted in Japan News, Society | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: suicide, Japan

25 April 2007

Gay Issues in America, what I learned

When it comes to homosexuality, the entire American society is softening up in recent years evidence of which can be seen in the revisions in the legal systems of several states that have made possible the union of gays in matrimony or some other partnership arrangement. Also, movies like “ Brokeback Mountain ”, which brings homosexuality to the fore for all to see, are getting rave reviews thus demonstrating a trend that sees the lessening of bias and prejudice.

 
I had lived in San Francisco, a city known to be one of the US’s most liberal cities, during a popular movement that would brand it as the Gay Capital . With most inhabitants of that city tolerating homosexuality, when I spoke harshly about gays usually they shunned me .
 
I met with some gay liberation activists in that city and asked the following questions.

Children cannot be born from gay sex, therefore, it is against the laws of nature and accepting it would imperil the humanity. What do you think of this?

Humans engage in sexual activity not for procreation but for pleasure. Sex without the intent of making children is practiced equally by heterosexuals as it is by people who have lost their ability to reproduce as well as those practicing birth control. Also, with the explosion of worldwide population in recent years threatening the very survival of humankind, all those “pro-lifers” now have it wrong.

Isn’t homosexuality forbidden by Christianity?

Christianity is but one of many religions and there are many followers of Jesus that are gay. In the Old Testament, it is written that sex between same-gender individuals is behavior punishable by death. However, in the very same book, it also says that those who work on the Sabbath Day and those who wear clothes made with a mix of different fabric are to be condemned. There are many “Commandments” that just make no sense in this day and age. The Bible in its present form was compiled in the Middle Ages and, since we know that Jesus Christ himself never said anything homosexuality, it cannot be definitely asserted that Christianity forbids it.

Isn't homosexuality mental disorder that ought to be cured?

In the US, psychiatrists and psychologists have agreed back in the 1970s that homosexuality is not an illness. The behavior itself is between consenting individuals and does not pose a threat on others. It is not scientific to brand perfectly sane individuals as neurotic only with respect to sexuality and nothing else.

Why do people become homosexual?

Many say that it is a product of the environment in which one is born, however, in actual fact, no one really knows why. This can also be said of heterosexuality. It is not scientifically proven why men love women and women love men. It is in the quest for a reason for this that one encounters the belief that homosexuality is abnormal behavior.

So, why is society regarding gays as outcasts?

A major factor is the fact that statistically gays are a minority. But aside from this, it is the general repulsion of the sexual act itself by society. Sex is regarded as impure not just between gays but also between straights. This is why virginity is revered as a virtue. However, if no sex occurs between members of the opposite gender, humanity will be extinct. This is where the notion that only heterosexual love for the intent of reproduction is accepted as holy and sex for the purpose of sheer pleasure becomes regarded as sinful. And, not only homosexual love but all sex performed with, for example, a condom or some other form contraceptive is also seen as a sin.

What do you think?

17 April 2007

Now "Bowling for Virginia Tech"

The horrible incident happened in the state of Virginia. Shooting on the Virginia Tech University Campus resulted in killing of 33 people. I deeply express my condolence to the victims.

This incident reminds me of Micheal Moore's documentary film "Bowling for Columbine (2002)"

The documentary explores the causes of the shooting incident that took place in Columbine High School in Colorado, 1999.

The main point was guns are not the main cause of the massive occurence of gun crimes in US. Nor violent video games, family crises.

The main cause is the culture of fear which the US traditionally has. It affets not only domestically but also internationally. Why the US attacked Iraq without sufficient evidence of weapons of mass-destruction and link with Al-Quaida terrorism? You are afraid of fear, always! Even though there is nothing to fear.

 Remember what President Franklin Roosevelt said, "The only thing to fear is fear itself."