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[Editorial] Government Deepens Polarization in the Name of Protecting the Vulnerable

[Editorial] Government Deepens Polarization in the Name of Protecting the Vulnerable

Posted June. 15, 2005 04:26,   


A policy for the underprivileged is of no use if it makes their life harder. A government is abnormal if it has not even thought about improving it. Nobody would trust it if it merely worsens polarization with its real estate, education policies and others, making the socially vulnerable ever more miserable.

Almost every month, the Roh administration comes up with real estate measures, but house prices in the Gangnam area are skyrocketing, while those of Gangbuk are dropping, widening the gap even more. Reckless tax policies are giving ordinary citizens triple burdens: limited house transactions, dropping house prices, and sudden tax raises. The government carried out its national development plan as if it would restructure the whole territory, but in return, the lives of ordinary citizens became ever more challenging due to skyrocketing land prices.

In the name of “balanced national development,” and with such a narrow mindset of “lowering the house prices in Gangnam would do,” the government has neglected the issue of providing houses in the metropolitan area. As a result, construction work of high-end housing complexes eligible to replace Gangnam faced obstacles, including fluctuating real estate prices in Gangnam and the southern part of the metropolitan area, which are near the Chungcheong area.

The issue of education has numerous problems with two main codes or themes: “equality” and “balance.” Under the current standardization in education, academically talented children from middle and lower classes are the victims. According to a study by Seoul National University, the number of entrants to the department of sociology at the Seoul National University from high-income families was larger than that of an ordinary family by 1.3 times in 1985, but the figure rose by 16.8 times. Still, the government sticks to its “Three-No`s policy.” When a Japanese private company, Toyota Motors, is active in fostering the talented by building a special school for the gifted, Korea seems to be haunted by the anachronistic concept of “equilibrium.”

True, equality and liberty are essentials of democracy, but there should be a premise of “equality in opportunities.” History has shown us worldwide that obsession with “equality in results” leads to severe inequality in results, and this is what we see today. Nevertheless, such obsession with ideology-based economic and education policies results in “failures in the system of national affairs,” and a “crisis of the vulnerable.”

The June 17 Cheong Wa Dae meeting on real estate measures presided over by President Roh Moo-hyun should not be confined to discussions on lowering house prices. It must provide an opportunity to discuss economic policies fundamentally compliant to market principles. As for Pangyo New Town, it brought more adverse effects due to its code of balance and equality. If only the government had listened to requests from the people for better housing conditions and their demands for houses, it could have blocked the skyrocketing housing prices in Gangnam.

If the government keeps restraining the market like now by recklessly pursuing equality and balance, it will continue a vicious cycle that it never wanted in the first place.