As with the last recession, it’s hard to tell there’s actually one on. The restaurants and izakaya are still full and the shoppers are as indefatigable as ever. Nevertheless, politicians are talking about extending the social safety net.
One reason for this is the move away from full employees to contract and part-time workers over the past two decades. This flexible workforce acts as a useful safety valve for companies as they can easily be fired in downturns, but exposes those people “downsized” to life without medical insurance or unemployment benefit.
People have now started questioning the morality of this arrangement. In a recent Sunday morning TV political debate a number of participants criticised the “lack of social responsibility” shown by companies which have shed large numbers of temporary staff recently.
Perhaps we will see the establishment of a European-style safety net on both sides of the Pacific simultaneously.