Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Random thoughts

Ok, so what’s going on with this whole Livedoor! Horie thing? Lots has been written by far more knowledgeable people than me, but for the uninitiated out there it’s the age old tale of: brash young chap starts up internet-somethingorother firm, pretends to be Steve Jobs by not wearing a tie (annoys other salarymen), buys up lots of other firms (annoys more salarymen), tries to buy a baseball team (annoys anonymous grey suited salaryman-like team owners (old money)), the kids really dig his can do attitude (never a good idea), tries to buy a TV station (annoys you know who), runs for parliament when the Kool Kid boots out the postal rebels and needs new recruits and almost gets in (like, really annoying the entire over-50 great suited mass of Salaryman i.e. the ones with the real power), then gets found out.

Now corporate Japan, as is quite obvious to anyone living here or reading the business pages, is built on a foundation of white-collar crime, fraud, corruption and incompetence. But to join this club you must work your way up, wear a grey suit, put in the hours and prove that you are of the requisite calibre to continue this great tradition of avarice and screwing people over. It is not the done thing to attempt to join these ranks at the tender age of 33, having made your own money and not even owning a tie. Just doesn’t work like that.

That, it seems to me (and other from whom I am cribbing, I freely admit) is why Horie’s fall from grace has been so swift and so absolute. I don’t think it matters now if he and his company did indulge in insider trading and dodgy funding buy-back share deals, or whatever, he is, as far as everyone seems to be concerned, guilty as charged and up a certain creek. And that’s a real shame because he was just the sort of person that Japan Inc. needs to pull the stuttering economy out of its somnolence and back to health. But no, seems he tried to take on the ‘old’ way of doing things with a new approach, whilst retaining the palm-greasing that is necessary (at least he wasn’t some crazy, holier-than-thou, crusading anti-corruption nutter), but found the culture of ‘that’s not exactly how we do things around here, you know’ just a little too tough to crack.

Also interesting that the whole Livedoor! Fall from grace exploded just when the Aneha homes construction scandal was about to get interesting by moving from the people whole designed and built the buildings to those who turned a blind eye or two, which may well have included a few politicians and other assorted bigwigs who would far rather some 33 year old internet yob took a bit of heat than, say, they did. Weird that. But anyway, Horie is now heading for a big fall, as was the Nikkei until people started realising that buying cheap stock was great and so now the Nikkei is at a 5 year high, or something, so looks like he was good for business. One can hope that his fall will force the Kool Kid into doing something about the corruption that seems to pervade all levels of commerce and business in this country, but I doubt it as they are the ones who bank roll all the parties (along with the construction industry which, no doubt, is very happy the Livedoor thing has taken them off the front pages) and the politicians and top businessmen will continue their cosy little relationship.

Haven’t had a rant for a while, quite enjoyed that, so here's another...

OK, so what’s going on with this American foreign policy thing then? In the red corner (so to speak) we have Krazy Kim’s North Korean People Mart – they are, allegedly, a terrorist nation, they kidnapped lots of Japanese from lonely beaches in the 1970s, the country is run by an unpleasant dictator with bad hair and dress sense, they have nukes in contravention of everything that is right a proper in the world according to America (do as I say don’t do as...), and all the other stuff as well, and yet the US cannot wait to get them to a negotiating table.

Similar story, though with notable exceptions, going on with Iran, the biggest being that they haven’t actually got any nukes yet but they have the temerity to suggest that they might like some. Now I am in no way condoning these regimes (especially the nonsense spouted by the new Iranian PM regarding Israel, the holocaust and suchlike) – the world does not need any more nuclear weapons, or weapons of any kind, and so these states should be brought into the world community and their toys taken away.

But what gets me is the American, and indeed world, reaction to the election of Hamas in Palestine. Now again I am in no way condoning Hamas and their methods of action or their desire to destroy, again, Israel – there is enough hate in the world, we don’t need any more, thank you. But, here is a democratically elected government, surprised at their own success, to be sure, but elected they have been. They have a poor state, they have little clout and yet already the US and most other countries have signalled they will refuse to even talk to them unless there is a swift and unanimous split from the military wing. Now, has Krazy Kim been told that he has to distance himself from his army before 6-way talks will begin? No. Has a similar request been made of Iran? Nope. Indeed did anyone, including Bush’s old man, make such a request of Gerry Adams, to spilt from the Provisional IRA, when he took tea at the Whitehouse every fecking year? I don’t think so.

But Hamas, well, they’re only little and in the puny, very new, easily squashed state of Palestine aren’t they, so we can darn well tell them what to do. Ha! No one f*cks with the good ‘ole US of A (unless they also have a very big stick).

Hmm, lucky I’m in a happy place right now, chap could get a touch down if he were to think to much about these things.

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