The Non-Financial Cost of Stagnation: “Social Recession” and Japan’s “Lost Generations”

The Non-Financial Cost of Stagnation: “Social Recession” and Japan’s “Lost Generations”   (August 9, 2010)

Japan’s stagnating economy and society are still operating on a postwar model which no longer makes sense. In response, its young generations are opting out of workaholic career paths, marriage and having children.

We in America are already getting a taste of the social costs of grinding economic decline. Young people who are graduating from college find a world of greatly diminished opportunities for full-time employment.

Many of the jobs that are available are free-lance/contract or other temp jobs, or part-time positions which pay one-third of what their parents earn.

Lacking sufficient income, young people are moving back home or staying at home because that is the only financially viable option open to them.

The cheerleaders cranking the hype machine shrilly claim that the U.S. economy will soon start growing smartly. But as this weblog and many others have documented over the past five years, that assumption has essentially no foundation in reality.

Much more likely is an “end to (paying) work” of the sort I have described here many times:

End of Work, End of Affluence (December 5, 2008)

End of Work, End of Affluence I: Cascading Job Losses (December 8, 2008)

End of Work, End of Affluence III: The Rise of Informal Businesses (December 10, 2008)

Endgame 3: The End of (Paying) Work (January 21, 2009)

Demographics and the End of the Savior State (May 17, 2010)

What happens to the social fabric of an advanced-economy nation after a decade or more of economic stagnation? For an answer, we can turn to Japan. The second-largest economy in the world has stagnated in just this fashion for almost twenty years, and the consequences for the “lost generations” which have come of age in the “lost decades” have been dire. In many ways, the social conventions of Japan are fraying or unraveling under the relentless pressure of an economy in seemingly permanent decline.

While the world sees Japan as the home of consumer technology juggernauts such as Sony and Toshiba and high-tech “bullet trains” (shinkansen), beneath the bright lights of Tokyo and the evident wealth generated by decades of hard work and the massive global export machine of “Japan, Inc,” lies a different reality: increasing poverty and decreasing opportunity for the nation’s youth.

The gap between extremes of income at the top and bottom of society– measured by the Gini coefficient — has been growing in Japan for years; to the surprise of many outsiders, once-egalitarian Japan is becoming a nation of haves and have-nots.

The media in Japan have popularized the phrase “kakusa shakai,” literally meaning “gap society.” As the elite slice of society prospers and younger workers are increasingly marginalized, the media has focused on the shrinking middle class. For example, a bestselling book offers tips on how to get by on an annual income of less than three million yen ($34,800). Two million yen ($23,000) has become the de-facto poverty line for millions of Japanese, especially outside high-cost Tokyo.

More than one-third of the workforce is part-time as companies have shed the famed Japanese lifetime employment system, nudged along by government legislation which abolished restrictions on flexible hiring a few years ago. Temp agencies have expanded to fill the need for contract jobs, as permanent job opportunities have dwindled.

Many fear that as the generation of salaried Baby Boomers dies out, the country’s economic slide might accelerate. Japan’s share of the global economy has fallen below 10 percent from a peak of 18 percent in 1994. Were this decline to continue, income disparities would widen and threaten to pull this once-stable society apart.

Young Japanese, their expectations permanently downsized, are increasingly opting out of the rigid social systems on which Japan, Inc. was built.

The term “Freeter” is a hybrid word that originated in the late 1980s, just as the Japanese property and stock market bubbles reached their zenith. It combines the English “free” a nd the German “arbeiter,” or worker, and describes a lifestyle which is radically different from the buttoned-down rigidity of the permanent-employment economy: freedom to move between jobs.

This absence of loyalty to a company is totally alien to previous generations of driven Japanese “salarymen” who were expected to uncomplainingly turn in 70-hour work weeks at the same company for decades, all in exchange for lifetime employment.

Many young people have come to mistrust big corporations, having seen their fathers or uncles eased out of “lifetime” jobs in the relentless downsizing of the past twenty years. From the point of view of the younger generations, the loyalty their parents unstintingly offered to companies was wasted.

They have also come to see diminishing value in the grueling study and tortuous examinations required to compete for the elite jobs in academia, industry and government; with opportunities fading, long years of study are perceived as pointless.

In contrast, the “freeter” lifestyle is one of hopping between short-term jobs and devoting energy and time to foreign travel, hobbies or other interests.

As long ago as 2001, The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates that 50 percent of high school graduates and 30 percent of college graduates now quit their jobs within three years of leaving school.

The downside is permanently downsized income and prospects. Many of the four million “freeters” survive on part-time work and either live at home or in a tiny flat with no bath. A typical “freeter” wage is 1,000 yen ($8.60) an hour.

Japan’s slump has lasted so long, a “New Lost Generation” is coming of age, joining Japan’s first “Lost Generation” which graduated into the bleak job market of the 1990s.

These trends have led to an ironic moniker for the Freeter lifestyle: Dame-Ren (No Good People). The Dame-Ren get by on odd jobs, low-cost living and drastically diminished expectations.

The decline of permanent employment has led to the unraveling of social mores and conventions. Many young men now reject the macho work ethic and related values of their fathers. These “herbivores” reject the traditonal Samurai ideal of masculinity.

Derisively called “herbivores” or “Grass-eaters,” these young men are uncompetitive and uncommitted to work, evidence of their deep disillusionment with Japan’s troubled economy.

A bestselling book titled The Herbivorous Ladylike Men Who Are Changing Japan by Megumi Ushikubo, president of Tokyo marketing firm Infinity, claims that about two-thirds of all Japanese men aged 20-34 are now partial or total grass-eaters. “People who grew up in the bubble era (of the 1980s) really feel like they were let down. They worked so hard and it all came to nothing,” says Ms Ushikubo. “So the men who came after them have changed.”

This has spawned a disconnect between genders so pervasive that Japan is experiencing a “social recession” in marriage, births, and even sex, all of which are declining.

With a wealth and income divide widening along generational lines, many young Japanese are attaching themselves to their parents, the generation that accumulated home and savings during the boom years of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Surveys indicate that roughly two-thirds of freeters live at home.

Freeters “who have no children, no dreams, hope or job skills could become a major burden on society, as they contribute to the decline in the birthrate and in social insurance contributions,” Masahiro Yamada, a sociology professor wrote in a magazine essay titled, Parasite Singles Feed on Family System.

This trend of never leaving home has sparked an almost tragicomical countertrend ofJapanese parents who actively seek mates to marry off their “parasite single” offspring as the only way to get them out of the house.

An even more extreme social disorder is Hikikomori, or “acute social withdrawal,” a condition in which the young live-at-home person will virtually wall themselves off from the world by never leaving their room.

Though acute social withdrawal in Japan affect both genders, impossibly high expectations of males from middle and upper middle class families has led many sons, typically the eldest, to refuse to leave the home. The trigger for this complete withdrawal from social interaction is often one or more traumatic episodes of social or academic failure: that is, the inability to meet standards of conduct and success that can no longer be met in diminished-opportunity Japan.

The unraveling of Japan’s social fabric as a result of eroding economic conditions for young people offers Americans a troubling glimpse of the high costs of long-term economic stagnation.

There is even a darker side to this disintegration of the social fabric and convention: child abuse is on the rise as well. Sadly, people under long-term stress often take out their multiple frustrations on the weakest, most marginalized people–including children:

Record 44,210 child abuse cases logged in ’09

Japan hit by huge rise in child abuse

Both Japan and the U.S. alike desperately need a peaceful revolution in expectations, financial justice (i.e. the absence of fraud, collusion, looting, gaming the system and parasitic leeching by financial and political Elites) and in the social definitions of wealth, security, community, “growth” as a measure of well-being and prosperity, and ultimately, what constitutes meaningful “work.”

In effect, postwar Japan grafted a mercantilist export economy based on insane work-hours onto a traditional patriarchal society in which women were expected to sacrifice their autonomy and ambitions for the good of their children, husband and the husband’s parents.

The male “salaryman” was expected to sacrifice his life up to retirement to his employer, via 60-70 hour work-weeks and killing commutes. Children were expected to sacrifice their childhood and teen years to study, in order to pass hellishly demanding exams on which their future livelihood, career and income depended.

These extremes of sacrifice might have made sense or seemed necessary to rebuild the nation after World War II. But now, 65 years and three generations after the war, these sacrifices make no sense and are destroying the social fabric of Japan.

Men who work 70 hours a week have no real role in their children’s lives, nor are they able to be husbands and fathers in any meaningful day-to-day sense. Understandably, many young Japanese men are opting out of that life of absurd, fundamentally meaningless sacrifice to corporations or the government.

For their part, young women are opting out of the burdens of being in effect a single parent who carries the immense responsibility of guaranteeing the academic success of her son(s) and the marriageability of her daughter(s). Further, as in standard traditional societies, she essentially leaves her own family and throws in her lot with her husband’s family, as she is expected to care for his aging parents as a daughter-in-law.

Given these burdens, it’s no wonder a third of Japanese young women have not married and have no plans to marry. According to one female author quoted in one of the above articles, Japanese men sometimes propose to women with lines like: “I want you to cook miso soup for me the rest of my life.” Quelle surprise that Japan’s increasingly educated and well-traveled young women are not impressed with this offer of lifetime menial servitude.

Japan’s youth are opting out of its stagnating economy and traditionalist society for good reason: the sacrifices demanded are inhuman and no longer make sense.What Japan needs is 35-hour work-weeks and shared jobs, not 70-hour work-weeks for some and dead-end jobs for half its youth.

If Japan wants to encourage families and women to have children, then it needs to recognize that the sacrifices demanded of young men and women no longer make sense in today’s world.

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On Obama vs Obama – The First American Presidential Debate

All this debate hoopla between Willard “Mitt aka Obama 2.0” Romney and Barack “Socialist Kenyan Muslim” Obama has really gotten out of hand. Sure, I enjoyed the memes about angry Big Birds, the Jim Lehrer incompetence rants, and the fact everyone was getting so worked up on Obama 2.0 supposedly beating Prez Obama to a pulp in last night’s debate.

But to be honest, I was more excited that the New York Yankees are going to the World Series again and how Ben Bernanke‘s QE3+ is causing inflation in Hong Kong. Since QE3+ was announced with the intention of propping up the stagnant American economy until unemployment drops to 5.5% (ROFL), inflation in Hong Kong has increased around 5-10% and the real estate bubble has gotten to the point where the government is getting involved to deflate it. Also, the price of food has increased and the HKD is going to lose more value against the Renminbi.

Note to self: begin splitting half of my HKD holdings in the bank into RMB to hedge against more damage from QE3+.

For all the theatrics and political WWF-style wrestling in the debate, neither Romney nor Obama really said anything substantial. Obama was just being passive as usual while Romney just pulled numbers out of nowhere and made them real with his confidence and photogenic smile. And yes, we now know Romney is a capable multitasker because he was able to both moderate the debate and hand Obama his ass at the same time.

I can say all these things while others are getting worked up over comments on their debate posts to the point of deleting either the comments, posts or even dropping a contact or two because I am not going to vote in November. Yes, I am not going to vote. No absentee ballots, no online voting and no write-ins for you-know-who and that Johnson fellow. Full disclosure, I voted for Obama in 2008 and it didn’t seem to pay off in any way so I am not voting for him or his Obama 2.0 (Romney) tool presented by the GOP. Even if I voted, my vote would be just filtered down to a handful of electoral votes that would go to Obama and my supposed absentee ballot will take its sweet time to pass customs to be added to the totals.

So no, I am not going to vote on November 6th. Conversely, I have no plans to play Halo4 that day either. I am just going to go to work, focus on the work, attend a few client meetings, have lunch with colleagues, and then head home to exercise and read a William Gibson novel or even one from Phillip K. Dick. Not voting on election day by choice will be one of the most American things I will do since becoming a naturalised citizen of the United States of America.

Thank you and I love Big Bird too.

Hong Kong Healthcare vs. American Healthcare

Hong Kong Healthcare vs. American Healthcare

Earlier this week I caught the flu as a result of being exposed to the typhoon and from heavy use of air conditioners. The symptoms of the flu were different from the typical flu because although I didn’t get the fever, I was having a bad case of an infected throat, coughing, stuffy nose, and a stomach virus. The stomach virus didn’t come out until after I had a traditional Chinese dinner at the grim and gritty part of Kowloon.

When the symptoms started appearing, I was hesitant to go to a nearby clinic since I was uninsured. Instead I went to buy a bottle of Methodex cough syrup and drank hot water in the hopes this would stop the cough. After 2 days, I started getting feverish and decided to go to the local clinic after insistence from my relative. I honestly did not want to go for fear of being price gouged for just a few minutes of meeting with the doctor and for the fear of having to pay a great deal for the prescription medicines.

When I went to see the doctor at the clinic, he was able to diagnose my flu and proceeded to give me a list of medication to fight it. The final bill for the visit was at $240HKD, which is roughly $31USD, and the fee included the prescription medicine. If I had local health insurance in HK, the entire doctor’s fee would be fully covered. It was shocking that I only had to pay around $31 just for a doctor’s visit and prescription medication despite being uninsured. If this was America, I would have to pay around $20 just for the co-pay and then more funds to get the prescription medicine. Otherwise, I would be paying somewhere close to the $100s if I was uninsured.

One more thing to note is that in Hong Kong, the doctors and pharmacists only give the amount of medication prescribed by the doctor. For example, if the doctor only prescribed 3 days’ worth of medicine, the pharmacist would only give 3 days’ worth of medication with the assumption the patient would use all of it within that time. This is not only a way to prevent medication from being wasted but a great way to control costs of prescription medication. In America, doctors would simply prescribe the medicine and the pharmacist would give you the entire package with the assumption the patient would simply stopped using it when all symptoms disappear. The problem with this approach is that the patient is buying unnecessary amounts of medicine and is taking on extra costs instead of just getting exactly what he or she needs per the doctor’s prescription.

Later that week, I started getting abdominal pains and had to go to the hospital to see a doctor. When I arrived, the doctor took the time to diagnose me after waiting for at least an hour, then got the nurse to inject me with anti-viral medication and gave me prescribed medication to fight the stomach virus and pains. At the end of the hospital visit, my bill came out to $580HKD or $$75 for the doctor’s consultation, anti-viral injection and prescription medicine. Also, if I was insured, the majority of this fee would be covered by the health provider with no co-pay. However, if this happened in America, I would be stuck with at least $580USD in doctor’s fees and get hounded by the hospital to pay off the fees as soon as possible. Also, keep in mind that I went to a private hospital and I learned that the government hospitals charge no more than $50HKD for treatment despite longer wait times.

So I really am confused by Americans who keep claiming that US healthcare is the “best in the world”, when it simply isn’t true. Whether the healthcare system is managed by the government, such as in Canada or France; or it has a two-tier system with a variety of options such as Hong Kong, these arrangement seem to be far more efficient than what we now have in America. Despite all the sensationalised nonsense from American media about the extremes of state-controlled healthcare or fully private healthcare, people in those places are overall content with their system compared to those in the USA.

I don’t think forcing American taxpayers to pay more taxes for being uninsured and making it mandatory to buy healthcare is the best option. It’s really clear that US healthcare is broken with their medical fees and prescription fees that are nowhere near the real market value of these goods and services. Most of all, it is simply arrogant to believe that Americans do not need to learn how the world implements their healthcare system to actually improve American healthcare on the basis of the big lie that “America is the greatest [insert noun here] in the world”.

Obama is Exceptional

Obama is Exceptional
By liberal Taylor

I am proud of being an exceptional man in an exceptional country called the United States of America. This is a country that has the Bill of Rights, the New Deal and won world wars. I am even prouder of the fact that we finally overcame racism by electing Barack Hussein Obama as our President. I can now finally say that everything is going to be alright now that Obama is in charge.

One of the first things he did was pass a stimulus bill that saved the economy and jobs. Thanks to this stimulus, many Americans are no longer unemployed and are able to enjoy time to protest Republicans and corporations in the occupy wall street movement, which is supported by our president. Most of all, the stimulus bailed out the poor and wisely stopped the recession.

Another achievement under President Obama was fixing healthcare. We all know that President Obama cares about us and that’s why Republicans call the reform obamacare. Under his healthcare reform, prices for insurance premiums went down for everyone, healthcare corporations lost money, and our healthcare now is closer to what Europeans enjoy. His speeches on reform were also so inspiring. It is just depressing that so many people think this reform is so bad because of racist Republican propaganda.

Obama’s major victory was killing terrorists. I remember 9/11 like it was Tuesday morning when those horrible attacks were shown on CNN while I was at home in southern California. I still feel like I was in midtown New York City when those towers went down. Fortunately, no one I knew died from the attacks but I always dress in black every 9/11 to remember all those who died because I am a proud American.

I am writing a bit more about killing terrorists because I was deeply moved by the 9/11 attacks. While Bush stumbled in his attempts at getting Bin Laden, Obama was able to kill him as he promised and made better use of the Patriot Act and enhanced interrogation that Bush couldn’t do. This is how I know President Obama is a good leader; he was able to kill terrorists with great success and with style.

Our President is a good judge, legislator and avenger and this is why I trust him with the War on Terror, with managing my healthcare and most of all the economy. All of these things would be squandered if Republicans took over. For those whiners who think President Obama isn’t that great, I want to remind you that he avenged those killed in 9/11, makes great speeches and is part of the 99%.  Only Republicans are the country’s problem while President Barack Obama is the final solution.

That being said, vote for President Obama in the 2012 election. After all, he is the only one we can trust who will make America stronger and more secure from the corporations and terrorists.

“It’s OK because Obama is President”

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HOW YOU CAN HELP RON PAUL WIN GOP PRIMARIES & CAUCUSES

HOW YOU CAN HELP RON PAUL WIN GOP PRIMARIES & CAUCUSES

Do you want to help Ron Paul win in 2012 but unable to make it over to 178 Mott Street?

Here are some details on Dr. Paul’s Phone from Home Program:

Hello! We just wanted to inform you about a great opportunity to help elect Ron Paul. We would appreciate it if you would consider spreading the word to your family, friends and local Ron Paul supporters.

The Phone From Home program is the best way to help Ron Paul right now by reaching voters directly in early primary states like New Hampshire. It’s easy to do because it is a Voter ID program, not a ‘sales’ call. We’re interested in finding out who will be voting, who they currently plan to vote for, and what top two issues helped them make their decision. By learning this information, we will be able to send them a message from Dr. Paul that speaks to their beliefs and concerns. This is a powerful tool and has other applications besides Voter ID. We can use it later on to persuade undecided voters, and get out the vote on primary or caucus day.

Would you please share this information with the people you know? The sign-up sheet can be found HERE: HTTP://Phone.RonPaul2012.com There is also an FAQ page that has a lot of useful info. This is really the best way to help the campaign because there is a literal army of Ron Paul supporters that can get on the phone and make an impact in this election. We need everyone to sign up and get familiar with this system. Even if you cannot make calls every night, we would at least hope you can devote some of your time to reaching voters in the states that matter most right now. By helping with this program you can increase the chances that Dr. Paul will be coming to your state in the future!

We need your help keep this campaign moving forward, and focusing on the early states is how we will do it!

With this in mind, you can help Ron Paul by setting up your Phone from Home account and calling right away.

Since New Hampshire is on the East Coast, we need the majority of calls to be made from 6:00 – 9:00PM Eastern. Those are the hours with the highest response rate when supporters call.

And keep in mind that whenever you receive an email from sender Ron Paul 2012 Volunteer, which will contain updates on what volunteers can do for Dr. Paul. Please check the regularly so you don’t miss any important information.

For those who are able to come to Liberty HQ, we’re open Mondays through Saturdays from 11:00 AM to 11:45 PM! We’re going to be phone banking everyday, except Sundays, until the Iowa Caucus, New Hampshire Primary and the Nevada Caucus.

Ron Paul’s Veterans Day Money Bomb – 11/11/11!

Ron Paul’s Veterans Day Money Bomb – 11/11/11!

He served. As an Air Force veteran, Ron Paul not only understands what it means to serve his country, but he also understands the costs of an adventurous foreign policy. Both the blood and treasure of a nation is exhausted in a time of war, and Ron Paul is the only one who has been consistent in his support of a non-interventionist foreign policy for decades.

That is why on November 11, 2011, thousands of average Americans, as well as Veterans, all across the country, will donate to the “Veterans Day Money Bomb” to honor Ron Paul for his service to this nation, as well as his admirable principles that have earned him the title as the “Champion of the Constitution.” It’s time to bring the troops home.

This is your chance to make a difference. Please pledge to support the “Veterans Day Money Bomb” by signing up to the right, and donating on November 11, 2011 at RonPaul2012.com.

RON PAUL: The Military’s Choice

Why are the top three contributors to Ron Paul’s campaign the US Army, US Navy and the US Air Force? Ron Paul receives more military donations than all the other GOP presidential candidates, and President Obama combined. As an Air Force veteran, Ron Paul not only understands what it means to serve his country, but he also understands the costs of an adventurous foreign policy. Both the blood and treasure of a nation are exhausted in a time of war, and Ron Paul is the only one who has been consistent in his support of a non-interventionist foreign policy for decades.

On November 11, 2011, thousands of average Americans, Veterans and military all across the country, will donate to the “Support Them Now” Veterans Day Money Bomb to honor Ron Paul for his service to this nation, as well as his admirable principles that have earned him the title of the “Champion of the Constitution.” It’s time to bring the troops home.

This is your chance to make a difference. Please pledge to donate at least $100 to the Veterans Day “Support Them Now” Money Bomb by signing up to the left. Our goal is to collect 17,000 pledges, the same amount of pledges we collected on the $4.3 million November 5th Money Bomb in 2007. On November 11, please only donate at RonPaul2012.com.

Please invite your friends, and tell them that it is essential that Americans all across the country donate to Ron Paul at RonPaul2012.com on November 11, 2011.

Pledge here:
http://www.supportthemnow.com/
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=163195827101460&ref=ts

Join the conversation at:
https://www.facebook.com/RonPaulNYCLibertyHQ 
https://www.facebook.com/RP2012NY

If You Love Security, Become a “Romney Democrat” (Just for a Year)

If You Love Security, Become a “Romney Democrat” (Just for a Year)
By Dan O’Malley

The United States began its decline when Americans voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

After two years, we now see that Obama 1) phases out operations  against countries that have Muslims (Yemen, Pakistan and Iraq) 2) oversees class warfare against businesses that have promoted American exceptionalism throughout the world (e.g. Goldman Sachs), 3) supports the legal framework for undermining security from terrorists, drug dealers and pedophiles (e.g. Patriot Act), and 4) is growing a deficit by pushing useless stimulus packages that are unpopular with the American people.

Put another way, when it comes to such things as the killing of evil terrorists, preventing class warfare, and increasing security to make our lives worth living, we had the hope, but we haven’t had the change.

Just as in 2000, Bush hadn’t shown his true colors, in 2008, Obama had not either. A vote for either in those years was fair enough. But in 2012, if you vote for the Democratic nominee for president, you better have a moral justification that is SO good that it is not worth a) having collateral damage to kill terrorists who threaten you, b) protecting the free markets, and c) tolerating your child from being touched by a government official with the full force of the law behind him as he just follows his orders to protect him or her from terrorism.

Do I labor the point?  Good.

I believe that such a justification exists.  I’m having difficulty seeing how a Democrat who voted for Obama (whom I supported) for the right reasons in 2008 can in good conscience do so again given that there is another candidate who has been more consistent in his support to these things — not just in words but in deeds.

If you’ve read my other pieces, you already know who he is.  But if not, you should also know that Mitt Romney has opposed abortion, gay marriage etc. and to promote accepted social values on the country — even when he is unsure with them (as he has shown uncertainty on some of these issues). In other words, he is consistent in his beliefs in a strong, secure, and exceptional America.

If you are a Democrat, and you sit tight and vote Democrat again “because you’ve always been a Democrat” or because you think that some group with which you identity will benefit more from Democrat programs than a Republican one, then that is up to you, and I wish you well. However, don’t you dare pretend that you are motivated primarily by security, American values, or a government that knows how to fight.

That Mitt Romney who has stood up for these principles quietly during his lifetime, happens to be a member of the Republican party is a lot less important than the principles that we should be voting on. The fact that he is not just a party guy should be obvious from his extensive differences in policy from his peers and the fact that many think, given his views, he should not run as a Republican at all.

As Romney often points out, however, we live in a country that is exceptional… and the history that is rich and stacked against anyone who would dare oppose it.  Therefore, he is doing what he has to do.  Moreover, so should we as Americans who love security and freedom.  It really is not complicated.

Now, I know that the Republican party stinks to many Democrats and Independents who care about security and freedom, but we all need to be smart and play the system to get the political outcomes we seek: you don’t have to like a party or even identify with it to sign up as a Republican for a year to help make sure that the Republican primaries are won by the one governor who has always been for security, has always voted against socialism, and has always opposed the reach of government into your business, your taxes and your person.

In addition, if you are a Democrat or a socially progressive Independent, you cannot tell me you were not hoping for all that from Obama.

Perhaps you see too much small-mindedness, or mean spirit or religious craziness in the Republican party.  Sure you do.  You can find all of them in spades. But since you can’t change the Democrat ticket for 2012, why not act where you can make a positive change — by telling the Republican party where you really want it to go… in the direction of security and freedom (both of which, if you go back just a little way, can be found in the traditions of republicanism).

Just in case you need to make it absolutely clear for your friends at work that you have not gone to the dark side, I offer you a special moniker to set yourselves apart and give yourself a way back once you’ve done what needs to be done — the “Romney Democrat” — to signify, of course, your American sensibilities and perhaps even your history as a Democratic voter.  (On the other hand, why not just tell your friends that Cindy Crawford and Scott Brown seem to have already gotten the message?)

I am aware that the main objection to Mitt Romney from the left concerns his belief that private corporations are more effective in maintaining social welfare than the government.  To this I ask one question.  Do you believe so much in the effectiveness of our current centralized delivery of social welfare that it is worth the bailouts and the feel-good speeches supported by both Bush and Obama’s administrations?  Moreover, while Mitt Romney would look to privatize the huge federally run welfare programs in the end, which is not where he wants to start: his immediate fight would be to bring more forces to the terror-infested Middle East and to make laws to treat corporations with greater dignity.

Mitt Romney’s electoral weakness is not a difficulty in winning a Republican Primary.  It is in winning a presidential election in a country with a constituency that includes the far-left and Independents. An influx of security-loving and Muslim-hating independents and Democrats would change the math on the Republican side and potentially the future of America by setting up a presidential contest with a security-minded, pro-business candidate (who could outflank Obama on those issues).

Again, this is not an endorsement of the Republican Party or a claim that the Republican record is better than the Democrat on any of the issues discussed in this article.  (It is not.)  It is not even a statement that Governor Romney is a panacea of American politics.  Rather, it is to recognize simply that the one potential Presidential candidate who wishes to stop terrorists from killing innocent Americans and stop transferring the wealth Americans earned to the undeserving poor happens to be — this time around — a Republican.

It is also to recognize that any other political choice is for things as they are in which all the issues that really matter (terrorism, free markets) are settled for the socialists and the interests of the foreigners over Americans.

Therefore, what will it be — same old team allegiance or new, Romney Democrats?