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[Opinion] Misunderstanding Hamilton

Posted June. 14, 2006 03:45,   


Cheong Wa Dae this time came up with the Hamilton Project, a policy proposal report from the Brookings Institution, saying that it was surprising how this report resembles Cheong Wa Dae’s strategy. It must have discovered a new model again after squeezing some juice out of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for half a year. This is the achievement of having wandered through such models as the Dutch model of grand compromise among labor-capital-government, the Swedish model of grand social agreement, and finally the Bangladeshi model whereby people are happy though poor.

The fundamental rules of a nation’s strategy on economy, according to the Hamilton report, are broad-based economic growth, economic security, and an effective government. But Cheong Wa Dae’s interpretation was that the Hamilton Project emphasized national responsibility for reducing economic polarization, the parallel promotion of both growth and welfare, and renovation-led growth, which implies that the report was similar to policies of the Roh government. This is an extreme case of self-centeredness, drawing water to one’s own mill in other words, as the Korean saying goes.

What the original report emphasizes is quite different. First of all it said that broad-based economic growth requires the expansion of opportunities for which the good quality of public education becomes very important. It scared the teachers’ union by saying that evaluation on teachers should be strengthened. On the economic security that Cheong Wa Dae interpreted into welfare, the Hamilton Project said what is important is how things are provided is as important as how much they are provided. Cheong Wa Dae also said, “The theory of small government for growth is an issue chosen with an error,” whereas the original report said, “Public roles are needed for investment on education, training, science, and building infrastructure because the market cannot afford sufficient investment on these, but for this to be performed, it is important to use the resources effectively and to minimize control expenses.”

Alexander Hamilton, whom the project is named after, is the first treasury secretary of the U.S., who valued the private sector and balanced finance. This report also maintained the importance of strengthening the market power and of controlling government expenditures. It does not clap at a big government that claims a tax increase for raising the number of public personnel. Is the reason why the Roh government cries out “Welcome Hamilton,” holding an evaluation report downgrading the efficiency of the government from 31st to 48th, because it lacks knowledge or that it is shameless?