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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Are Joe Lieberman and Park Geun-hye banging?

Posted on February 23, 2010. Filed under: Dems, GNP, GOP, Issues, Policy |


They might not be banging, but they certainly have a lot in common these days. Joe Lieberman –along with Gore– was referred to as “Sore Loserman” during the 2000 US Election recount. We all know the gruesome details of that election and the slogan was unfair then, but I think it fits him quite well now.

His uncompromising zeal for the Iraq war made him an easy target for the Dems and progressives. He cemented his image as a traitor to progressive values with his support for McCain in ’08 and has continued to be the official “giant douche” of the Senate during the health care debates of ’09. Along with his conservatives overlords, he has found himself on the wrong side of nearly every issue he has stood-up for. And even though he was forced to run as an Independent and faces active campaigns trying to strip of his chairmanship, he remains stubborn as ever.

Park Geun-hye has followed a similar path. She was so close to winning the GNP’s primary last cycle, but fell short only to turn into a “sore loser” who chooses to obstruct rather than lead or offer sound solutions. She knows she is on the wrong side of this Sejong debacle, yet she continues to publicize and press for intra-party conflict. This is clearly not about policy; it’s about Chungcheong votes. Her reasoning for support has been all over the place, but my personal favorite is this:

“If the party changes its official platform, approval by two-thirds of members is required.”

I  respect procedure as much as the next guy, but arguing that it’s impossible to change the platform (that she created in 2005) is absurd. She is the only one responsible for obstruction. Her pro-Park faction would follow her in a second, but she refuses to budge. Even as new information continues to pour in that clearly expresses the downside of the project, she sticks to her original plan (which of course was the plan that Roh created for victory in his bid for the Blue House).

Joe and Geun-hye were clearly meant for each other. They pander poorly, get caught for it and, in the face sharp criticism, mounting opposition and –most importantly– contrary facts, they decide to stand tall.

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Policy, Politics and 체면: The Sejong City Fallout

Posted on February 17, 2010. Filed under: GNP, Issues, Policy, Political Parties |

The story behind the Sejong rift is not what’s being widely reported. What we hear is that the rift between Park Geun-hye & Company and the rest of the GNP is getting larger by the day. Every major paper has headlines dealing with the intra-party clash and yesterday, the Dongo Ilbo wrote-up had some reactions on the split and the entire Sejong City debacle.

While people might be divided and some pols are still wrangling over how to solidify the party, the real story is the ongoing cold war between Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Chung Un-chan. The difficult part of this story is not who though, but why?

Does Park really want to press ahead with the original plan because it’s sound policy or she trying to position herself for a mid-term power grab thus gaining the  subsequent momentum for a 2012 cakewalk?

Does Chung truly believe that moving administrative offices to Sejong will hamper efficiency or is he also poised for a 2012 run himself?

Or are both of them trying to save face (체면) because they made very potent policy decisions which –if proven wrong– will ultimately damage their reputation beyond repair?

Let’s examine it.

As I mentioned before, 60% of Koreans support Lee Myung-bak’s revision while only 37% support the original plan (which Park is advocating for). It seems that Park knows she’s on the wrong side of the issue which could suggest she believes in the policy. However, over 1,000 Korean economists, scholars and politicians all banded together in support of a revision of the plan. Does she disagree with the following sentiment?

“When administrative bodies are divided, ministers, vice ministers and many officials have to move from one place to another and it is inefficient.”

Doubtful, but Park Geun-hye continues to rail against it, claiming Lee Myung-bak lied about his Sejong support to get elected. It’s clear that the original Sejong plan wasn’t as sound as once thought and it now appears that Park is pandering for political dividends in the Chungcheong province with her uncompromising zeal for the project. She knows the path to victory goes through the province, but did someone else pre-empt her move?

Could it be that Chung is more 11-dimensional than I thought? After all, it was Chung Un-chan who was at the forefront pushing for revision. He knew it’d be a wedge issue that would provoke Park to act and possibly try to distance herself from Lee and the mainstream GNP. Or was he acting on sound policy? He is an economist you know.

Incidentally, Chung happens to be from Gongju (South Chungcheong province), which is the area Park is pandering to. This –to me– suggests that he’s hoping to get more hometown support for his calls for revision. North Chungcheong has already expressed their opposition to the original bill and even though the Governor of South Chungcheong resigned over the revision, the momentum appears to be with the pro-Lee faction of the GNP.

In the end, this whole thing looks like an effort to save face. Both Chung and Park made a bold decision and neither one of them want to walk away from it. This whole damn thing was orchestrated by Roh Moo-hyun in an effort to win support in 2002 and it has snowballed to the point that we’re at right now.

From where I’m standing, Park Geun-hye bet on the wrong side and is trying to fight off a severe blow to her 체면. Chung is pushing sound policy in an attempt to politically wash the floor with Park and her allies. And if the recent calls to oust Chung were in response to said washing, it looks like he’s onto something.

Nice try, Hankyeorah. It looks like you’re learning from from Drudge.

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