If you keep forcing people to make decisions they can’t possibly make reasonably, don’t expect any reasonable results either. This occurred to me while reading an article on The Atlantic about fixing intersex babies with surgeries. Parents are asked (or even urged) to decide whether or not to do the surgery, even though even the doctors don’t have an exact knowledge of what consequences it may have. Then how can anyone expect laymen parents to make that decision responsibly?
That’s one of the big problems with democracy in general as well. Most of the people simply don’t care as long as they aren’t negatively affected by government policy, and the vast majority definitely won’t research sufficient information before forming an opinion.
One of the best examples of that is the Japanese society when it comes to economic policy (or security, but I’ve already written about that).
There has been a very vocal opposition to restarting the nuclear power plants of Japan since the 2011 disaster, and that alone makes sense. Nuclear power can be dangerous if mishandled, and the safety measures in Japanese nuclear power plants were less than adequate. It’s one thing that the safety regulations have in turn gotten extremely harsh since the accident and the power plants around the country are being upgraded to meet those requirements, so that they could be restarted as soon as possible. For some reason the public “conveniently” ignores that though… Either way, I could still understand the opposition as based on the natural fear of nuclear power.
However, things get complicated when the same people demand that the government stimulate the economy, fix the trade deficit, create jobs, provide cheap healthcare and keep taxes low.
Even if nuclear power plants are not operating, there are tremendous costs to just sustain them. (Costs that the plants would cover for themselves if they were operational.) Also, the power consumption of Japan is not considerate of the state of the electricity grid. People will keep their AC running when it’s hot, they won’t watch less television nor will they switch the lights off more willingly. Since the nuclear power plants got taken offline, the energy they supplied has been covered by conventional thermal power plants. Thermal power plants that run on fossil fuel. Imported fossil fuel. Importing massive amounts of fuel would’ve been close to impossible without adjusting interest (and exchange) rates. There goes the reason for a lengthy trade deficit.
It goes without saying that stimulating the economy is something governments are supposed to do to keep the country running. Boosting the economy when you have to keep import prices cheap isn’t so easy though and definitely requires funds.
So does sustaining the ever-growing elderly population, who for most of it only weigh in on the negative side of the balance. They need pension, daycare, healthcare. High pensions and low costs, preferably. Who covers that? The government, from taxes.
Point is, the people can’t see the connections between the different issues in the economy and society, which results in that they keep making unreasonable demands. If that ignorance alone wasn’t enough, there’s also the media and the opposition politicians, and honestly I don’t know if they are intentionally provoking tensions by backing (and thus giving credit to) such demands, or they’re just people too, ignorant and unwilling to care. Though that would also raise concerns about why such people can be in positions to form the public opinion.