Julian wonders whether non-Beltway insiders understand that most prominent people have ghostwriters penning “their” op-eds, books, etc., and whether there should be more outrage over this quasi-dishonesty. For my part, it’s never bothered me that a Times op-ed by, say, a U.S. Senator or the Secretary of Health and Human Services probably wasn’t written by the eminence themself – but I was shocked to find myself, during my first year in D.C., being introduced to a guy who ghostwrote for a syndicated columnist. I’m not sure what the difference is, exactly – I suppose there’s just something about a regular byline that made me assume, foolishly, that the “author” was writing the thing by himself.

This has been a Gregg Easterbrook pet peeve for many years, incidentally – though he tends to focus on praising celebrities and pols who credit their ghostwriters (like John McCain), and pillorying those who don’t (like Hillary Clinton, on both It Takes a Village and Living History).

FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS GIVEN: Unless, that is, you’re in Japan:

Japan’s population declined this year for the first time since the country began keeping demographic records in 1899, according to preliminary figures released by the government this week.

The decrease, which specialists say signals the start of an era of shrinking population, occurred two years earlier than had been expected . . . The number of deaths outnumbered births by 10,000 this year, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Excluding wartime figures, the number of births, at 1.067 million, was the lowest since records have been kept; births dropped 44,000 from the previous year.

. . . Japan’s current population of 128 million is expected to fall to 100 million by 2050 and to 64 million by 2100 if current trends continue.

And on that cheery note, Merry Christmas!

– posted by Ross


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