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[Opinion] The Vote Is Not a Panacea

Posted January. 06, 2005 22:46,   


The Taj Mahal or the Great Wall? Internet users around the world are scrambling to vote to decide the seven mysteries of the world on an Internet site (www.n7w.com). The results will be released on January 1, 2006. At the moment, the Great Wall in China tops the list, but it might change. Starting from a month ago, the Taj Mahal in India began soaring on the list. It has pushed down even the Colosseum in Italy into fourth place and currently ranks third. The reason is simple: India has loudly advertised it, with aid from a former Miss World.

It is quite natural that the Great Wall is at the top. The population of China surpassed 1.3 billion at 12:02 a.m. on January 6. It’s the biggest in the world. The majority of the voters are also Chinese, which consists of 42.69 percent of them. The total population of China and India-−who has the world’s second biggest population−-amounts to a whopping 2.3 billion. Imagine that there was a “World Government” elected by a democratic popular election. In nine out of ten cases, a China-India federation government would be created. They might conduct a policy to rob the U.S. and Europe by taxation and redistribute the wealth to the rest of the world.

We cannot decide by a vote if the whale is fish or mammal. We can do so on the world’s seven mysteries, but there are issues that cannot be resolved by a vote. Sometimes, leaders who were elected by democratic elections ignore the constitution and restrict the basic rights of their people. That is an anti-liberalistic democracy. This is why we restrict the direct intervention of ordinary people in the areas of laws and institutions, and why we need social elites who are not elected by a vote to watch over liberty and democracy with expertise and conscience.

For the first time among government agencies, the Fair Trade Commission decided to reflect the results of an employee vote when appointing directors. They may intend to improve the public official community by selecting directors who have both capacity and the approval of their colleagues. However, good intentions do not always translate into good results. There is the possibility that employees vote for candidates who they think will be beneficial for themselves, or who are foolish and lazy, but have good personalities, rather than those who are smart, diligent, and spur their subordinates. Korea seems to have too many “experiments” in state affairs.

Kim Soon-duk, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com