Japanese also know how to loaf on jobA few months ago, a...

the Forum

May 28, 1992

Japanese also know how to loaf on job

A few months ago, a couple of Japanese politicians and bigwigs charged, in a spirited display of Yankee-bashing, that American workers are "lazy." We shouldn't take that feckless "lazy" charge lying down, so to speak. Such an indictment merits a counterattack.

Although the average Japanese worker spends 2,100 hours on the job annually, as compared with 1,900 hours for the average American, it should be pointed out that quite a bit of resting on the job by white-collar workers is an old tradition in Japan.

One of the most popular words over there is uchiawase, literally meaning an "appointment," and they have more "appointments" daily than you can shake a stick at.

Used when the urge to loaf strikes, the word is vague and broad enough to cover anything from reading newspapers to taking in a movie or the Japanese equivalent to the American's need for attending his grandmother's funeral on the opening day of the ball season.

Another leading Japanese politico referred to our good old Emersonian credo, that immortal one we all know and love, which holds that building better mousetraps gets paths beaten to doors. But he concluded with this eyebrow-raiser: "We now feel that the U.S. is no longer turning out mousetraps which are better than ours."

Now it's bad enough to be told that our workers over here enjoy too many personal energy crises on the job ("lazy," that is). But to be told further that we can't even make a better mousetrap than they do over there is too much. It's enough to make the ambitious, gung-ho Yankee worker break into sobs, or at least a bone-cracking yawn.

Wells Mears


We must build

I do not think we will ever reach racial harmony unless all of us make a special effort to achieve it. Remember those famous words, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what can you do for your country."

We came from different nationalities, it's true, and we are different, but we are all Americans now and we must cooperate together. That does not mean that we have to give up those things we like from our ethnic cultures, such as music, art and food, but if we continue as we are with each race trying to dominate the other, we will all fail -- and if we fail, so does our country. Remember these words, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Now that we have the Inner Harbor and a new stadium to bring in money for Baltimore, which we badly need to exist and to feed the poor, who will come here if there is continued violence?

I do not think the Rev. Martin Luther King wanted people to destroy their cities by fire. We cannot achieve success by burning down. We must build up.

Marie Nixon


Waste disposal demands regional view

Allow me to commend you on your lead editorial in The Evening Sun (May 11), "Trash Crisis vs. Cooperation."

You have hit the nail right on the head. Your synopsis of the potential trash crisis pending in the Baltimore region was extremely appropriate.

Regionalism is an important consideration in the managing of municipal solid waste. You are correct in pointing out that regionalism has often fared quite badly in the Baltimore area.

While you point out that the city and counties are driven by the same motives with regard to landfills everywhere quickly reaching their capacities, it should also be pointed out that Baltimore City bears more than its share of this burden in that both of the region's mass burn municipal solid waste incineration facilities are located within Baltimore City limits and Baltimore City takes all of the ash from these facilities at its landfill.

As City Council President Mary Pat Clarke has tried to point out on more than one occasion, regionalism does not mean that Baltimore City takes all of the region's trash with no assistance from its neighboring counties.

You do correctly point out that a success or disaster in one of the local jurisdictions is going to affect the other jurisdictions. For that reason, regional cooperation makes sense. It is imperative that decisions be reached in the near future with regard to the future status of the region's local landfills and what we are going to do about future landfill capacity. It is also imperative that this cooperation take place at the executive level.

Both Baltimore City and Baltimore County are presently working on their solid waste management plans for the next 10 years. Cooperation between the two jurisdictions with regard to this is imperative.

Howard Weisberg

College Park

The writer is chairman of the Mayor's Commission on Recycling and Resource Conservation

Times have changed

Nine years ago I wrote a letter to the editor extolling Baltimore county schools.

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