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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Bullshit Explanations for Greatness

Posted on March 3, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I’m not sure why, but I guess people just love sitting around and rationalizing why they or someone else is good at something. David Brooks might not be the craziest or most self-righteous in his explanation for why Norway always excels in the Winter Games, but he does win the award for weakest argument.

After retelling the amazing survival story of Jan Baalsrud, he closes with this statement.

This astonishing story could only take place in a country where people are skilled on skis and in winter conditions. But there also is an interesting form of social capital on display. It’s a mixture of softness and hardness. Baalsrud was kept alive thanks to a serial outpouring of love and nurturing. At the same time, he and his rescuers displayed an unbelievable level of hardheaded toughness and resilience. That’s a cultural cocktail bound to produce achievement in many spheres.

Sorry Finland and Sweden. Your story isn’t as “retell-able” apparently. I’m not sure why Brooks is getting into this really. Is he saying that Norway has a unique sense of community that other nations don’t share or is this a weak pitch for more civility in the US?

It doesn’t matter. The main point is that I’m getting pretty tired of worn-out, nationalistic excuses and explanations for why people or countries excel in certain sports. And every nation does it, but Korea does it the best.

If I wanted to get into it, I could tell you why Koreans are good at science, handling spicy food, economics and math. They’re all absurd. In fact, I have only read one sports explanation that made sense to me. Of course, it was from The Korean on “Why Koreans are good at golf.

“…it’s a game where you can play in a limited space.”

That’s reasonable and doesn’t invoke some historical or genetic excuse or explanation. What I think is interesting is that Koreans seem to have used all of their faux-reasoning capital on archery and golf because when Chosun Ilbo has an article titled, “Lee Seung-hoon’s ”Miracle’ a Result of Hard Work and Effort”, maybe they’re changing their tune.

Being a champion takes work. That’s it. Spare me the bullshit explanations for greatness.

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