Throughout the 1990s, the Japanese unemployment rate was – ready for this? – about three percent. Not 30 percent, that’s three percent: about half the US unemployment rate at the time. During that allegedly “lost decade,” the Japanese also had universal health care, less inequality, the highest life expectancy and low rates of infant mortality, crime and incarceration. Americans should be so lucky as to experience a Japanese-style lost decade.
The best measure is not overall GDP growth, but the growth of income per head of the working-age population (not per capita). This last element is important because only the working-age population represents an economy’s productive potential.
When one looks at GDP/WAP (defined as population aged 20-60), one gets a surprising result: Japan has actually done better than the US or most European countries over the last decade.
Okay, not everybody is happy this morning. For my less-enthused readers, I thought I’d post a special edition in our “What to Read” series. Herewith, I reproduce the best articles, columns, essays, and posts that I’ve read on the health care debate since I started this blog. But first, I want to second Steve Coll’s motion to celebrate one journalist in particular:
If you, like me, are uplifted by the historical potential of Sunday’s vote, then the best way to sit still inside what has happened is to scroll back through Ezra Klein’s blog. If you haven’t been reading Klein throughout the health care reform debate, you’ve missed one of the inspiring examples of how new forms of journalism in the hands of a new generation of journalists (who don’t always admire, but don’t always disrespect, the example of the generation before them) can produce vital new work. Klein is an example of a policy wonk in possession of both passionate opinion and scientific method who put himself into position to cover the dull-but-important story of a lifetime.
Coll has inspired me to create a new tradition for this blog: a “Journalist of the Year” award. With a little backdating, we are proud to honor Ezra Klein with the 2009 Trading 8s “Journalist of the Year” Award.