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[Opinion] A Generous Government

Posted December. 21, 2005 03:00,   


A farmer went to the bank to get a loan to buy some farming equipment. The bank requested a “Productive Farm” certificate issued by the farmland reform institution. The farmer returned to the bank after getting the certificate but was refused the loan once again. The reason was that the farmer had called for a referendum on the president two years ago. This is the reality of Venezuela reported by the British magazine Economist. People were cheering when President Hugo Chavez provided free education, free medical service, and even grocery expenses. They applauded the policy line that the judiciary, financial, and media circles and even private companies should place priority on social good. This was until the seemingly generous government started intervening in individuals’ lives.

During the seven years of Chavez’s rule, 40 percent of the companies went out of business. The poor increased from 54 percent in 1999 to 60 percent last year. The government which is experiencing a so-called “socialist revolution of the 21st century” is largely to blame for the nation being in this state despite the oil bonanza due to the nationalization of oil. Leftists commonly believe that a good government can change mankind and society. However the government is not omnipotent and cannot lead all world affairs to realize absolute good. To a president who stresses participatory democracy, the people stated their feelings clearly with a mere 25 percent participation rate in the general elections.

Halfway around the globe, another government that stresses the people’s participation, the Roh Moo-hyun administration, is about to allow a government-appointed director in social welfare companies after allowing the open director system in private schools. It is strange that the government would insist it is not leftist while only pouring out leftist policies. Though the new government-appointed director policy is a voluntary regulation for the transparency of company management, it is highly likely that the designated director will pursue “non-transparent social welfare” of, by, and for the government. Does the government believe it can hide its incompetence in supervision through existing policies by allowing these government-appointed directors?

Leshek Baltserovich, the governor of the National Bank of Poland who experienced communism first-hand, said, “It is clear that the government’s role should be restricted when we consider the fall of nationalism in the third world, the collapse of the communist Soviet Union, and the economic depression of European socialist states.” Except for the leftists, scholars around the world are all calling for the government to stop its intervention, but the participatory governments are still concentrating on expanding “participation as they would like it.” According to the Britannica dictionary, a type of government that puts all the lives of its citizen under the rule of national authority is defined a totalitarian regime.

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