When I first came to Japan in 1980 I was amazed to see fish swimming in the rivers in downtown Tokyo. Japan of the 1980’s was by many standards the most advanced nation on earth. By 1985, after decades of sizzling economic growth, they had the highest per capita income on earth, the lowest gap between the rich and poor in any developed nation and a very healthy natural environment. They also were the greatest creditor nation on earth, having supplied cars, electronics and other goodies to the rest of the planet often in exchange for IOUs.
One of the reasons I chose to go to university in Japan was to study the system that had made this miracle possible. This is how it worked. Japan’s government was run by a combination of highly talented bureaucrats, industrialists and politicians with deep roots in their local constituencies. They presided over a system that was a combination of central planning, free market capitalism and socialism.
At the apex of the system was an organization known as the Economic Planning Agency. It was run by a group of about 30 members of the bureaucratic, industrial, academic and political ruling elite. They would come up with a 5 year plan for the country. Politicians would explain in detail what their voters desired. Bureaucrats would explain exactly how much money there was available to realistically meet their desires. Industrialists would explain what could be profitably done to contribute to the plan. The country as a whole also had a mission: to overtake and surpass the West.
The system was not like the central planning of Stalinist economies, where even such thing as the amount of toothpaste was centrally planned, because it was based on market forces.
The plan might, for example, call for doubling the amount of roads, sewers and port facilities over a 5 year period, and would allocate the money for this. However, it was private companies who bid for the actual work. Furthermore, companies were free to carry out their own independent activities regardless of the bigger plan.
The only countries that had systems arguably as good as the old Japanese system were the Scandinavian countries, Germany and Canada.
In 1985 the US government set out to destroy this system out of what I can only describe jealousy and fear of being over-taken. George Bush Sr., then vice-president, ordered Japan to dismantle this system and hand economic control over to American oligarchs (gangsters). When the Japanese refused, they shot down Japan airlines flight 123 on August 12, 1985. On September 22nd, 1985, Japan signed the Plaza Accord that signaled the beginning of the systematic destruction of the Japanese economic system. Since then, Japan’s economy has been looted to the tune of about $5 trillion by American and European gangster oligarchs.
The system that created the Japanese miracle was by no means perfect. One flaw was the system of forced early retirement of low paid bureaucrats. This meant that bureaucrats, instead of thinking of the greater good of their country, had an interest in currying favour with the companies they regulated in exchange for cushy, post-early retirement jobs. The other problem was the system of lifetime employment. While this did create employee loyalty to firms, it was also a feudal system that made it almost impossible for people to change jobs. The political system was also radically biased in favour of rural citizens and against urban residents.
Singapore, to this day, has a better system, where bureaucrats are not forced to retire early and get paid as much as their private sector counter-parts. That is why Singapore keeps sizzling along to this day.
In any case, China’s Deng Xiaoping carefully studied the Japanese and Singaporean systems and adopted them to China. That is one of the main reasons for China’s long economic boom.
The West would do well to create its own, improved version of this system. That is why I have been proposing creating a future planning agency. This is different from the White Dragon Society, which strongly insists on ending poverty, stopping environmental destruction and expanding earth life exponentially into the universe. This is simply a personal proposal, based on 30 years’ experience as a geopolitical journalist.
The future planning agency I propose would have an initial funding of $7 trillion. That is the amount of money the Japanese have legitimately earned since World War 2. It is based on cars, electronics and other real things sent to the rest of the world. This is different from gold carefully hoarded in caves over the millennia by Asian dynastic families or fantastical numbers put in computers by Western Bankers. It is based on actual production.
The future planning agency would exist in harmony with existing institutions and not replace them. It would recruit some of the best brains from all over the world in the fields of government, business, academia etc. Their job would be to study and make real the wishes of the people of the planet, as expressed through the internet and opinion surveys.
Here are some possible examples of what such an agency could accomplish. First, it would accept bids and plans for a massive campaign to turn the deserts green. Many competing plans would be allowed to go ahead and those that succeeded would be copied and improved upon. Such an effort could double the amount of land now available for agriculture and nature preserves.
In the case of the oceans, the agency could hire the navies of the world to stop the unsustainable over-fishing that is destroying the ocean eco-systems. Within 5 years it should be possible to increase the amount of fish 10 fold. Feeding the ocean with nutrients may make it possible to further increase this 100 fold.
Another project it could oversee would be to make sure every child on earth is well fed and well educated. Human brains are the most under-utilized resource on the planet. Allowing all those young minds to reach their full potential would unleash wonders we cannot even imagine at present.
These are just ideas meant to form a starting point for a debate about what sort of system we could create to allow us to successfully navigate into the future. It is not a final plan. Nor is it a plan for a single central world government. Many competing corporations, governments, charities, foundations, etc. could all work in harmony with the future planning agency.
In any case, let us look at what we now have in the West. The system of unfettered capitalism is based on the “profit motive” which is a nice way of saying human greed. It has created a black hole sucking up all the world’s resources and wealth into the hands of a tiny, rapacious elite. They spend the world’s savings on a military industrial complex meant to preserve their power.