Archive for August, 2011

DP widens economic discrimination with free lunches

Posted on August 26, 2011. Filed under: GNP, Uncategorized |

Now that Oh Se-hoon has failed to reach the minimum quorum needed to overturn the DP’s signature we-love-all-people-and-they-will-love-us-with-votes policy issue of free kimchi for all, the sharks in DP are pouncing, demanding that he keeps his word and resigns. It’s safe to say that he won’t step-down until after the September by-elections which will help dim the pain the the GNP might feel otherwise. Pairing it with the Presidential election is a smarter move.

The entire issue of the free school lunch policy has been baffling. Take this cartoon from Hankyoreh for instance.

A man pulls up in a Mercedes with a license plate indicating he is from the wealthy conservative Gangnam District and says, “As our country is almost broke due to my tax breaks, you had better pay for you lunch,” rejecting the free school lunch program.

Apparently, Gangnam voters turned out in droves to vote down the free school lunch measure. Hankyoreh makes the claim that rich people didn’t want their tax breaks to be offset by this policy. That’s true. They didn’t want their tax money to fund this policy.

The problem with the claim in the cartoon is that it’s an outright lie.

First of all, Hankyoreh and the DP clearly misrepresented Oh Se-hoon’s position in their thirst to crush the  GNP in the upcoming election cycle.  He agreed to raise the percentage of students receiving free lunches from 35% to 50%. DP wanted 100% with no income differentiation. Now that they have gotten their way, they must own their claim that students will no longer have the ammunition to be able to discriminate upon one another based on income levels.

That, of course, won’t happen. Korea’s rapid economic rise puts great importance on wealth and status and kids learn that from their parents. Hell, even the Hankyoreh identifies where the wealth is (강남) a free lunch scam isn’t going to erase that reality.

Furthermore, there are many other indicators of wealth that children pick up on and while school lunches might be one of them, it’s certainly not the biggest one. Cram schools, or rather, the amount of cram schools that kids attend generally hint at the family income level.

And now that DP has given free lunches to all, those rich Gangnam parents will be able to send their kids to one more cram school thus widening the gap between the rich and poor.

Good move, DP. Next time leave the empty populism out of policy debates.

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Park Geun-hye’s March to the Center

Posted on August 25, 2011. Filed under: 2012 Elections, DPRK, Policy |

Ms. Park is once again proving her inability to have any principles or definitive policy positions. Her newest policy known as “trustpolitik” draws a vague line between the supposed hawks in the Lee Myung-bak camp and doves pushing a return to the rapprochement of the failed Sunshine policy.

“An alignment policy would entail assuming a tough line against North Korea sometimes and a flexible policy open to negotiations other times.”

Defining “something” is of course the challenge and if she is claiming to take a more “aligned” approach than Lee Myung-bak did, I take it that could mean the tolerance of at least  two military attacks which is exactly what this current administration did.

Of course, she could be suggesting that she’ll be more open to aid and other financial assistance like the Roh and Kim administrations were which, as history teaches us, leads to the murder of Southern tourists, development and testing of nuclear weapons and the firing of long-range missiles.

The bottom line is that Lee Myung-bak didn’t follow a truly hawkish North Korea policy. He pussyfooted his way through without fully committing to the hawkish policies he ran on and in return, he’ll be remembered as the president that allowed North Korea to murder more than forty South Korean citizens without consequence. Sure, he and his advisers will claim that they avoided a second Korean War, but the truth is that they punted on confronting Kim Jong-il.

I guess we should remember that by the time Lee Myung-bak had arrived in office, the South Korean voters were already split on DPRK policy and now, almost five years later, they seem to be just as split with a large segment of voters nostalgic for the faux-sense of security that Sunshine offered. Park is simply capitalizing on that while offering no substance with her moderate rhetoric.

It’s a pander that she hopes will allow her to waltz in on name recognition only.

The only question that remains and considering everything that has happened with North Korea over the past decade,  do people want yet another opportunistic politician claiming to know the perfect combination for dealing with the North?

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