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[Opinion] Business-Unfriendly

Posted August. 11, 2006 04:41,   


“God stimulates humankind into bettering themselves by stoking their desire and vanity and placing pressure on them to differentiate from one another. Human beings are feeble, yet selfish creatures trying to be loved by this partial God, and to succeed with the divine help. Underdeveloped countries fall behind as they run counter to this simple logic. They lost the earthly Gods that help those who help themselves.”

These are the remarks made by Jwa Seung-hee, a professor at Seoul National University’s graduate school of international studies, well-known for his sobering diagnosis of the national economy. He criticized the sitting administration’s egalitarianism, referring to a “biased God” at the Korean Economic Association’s international conference held on August 9 and 10. The association with a membership of over 2,000 economists literally represents the academia of Korean economics, led by chairman Jung Woon-chan, former SNU president, who succeeds famous economists including Park Seung, Kim Se-won, Kim Byong-joo, Jung Chang-young, Ryu Jang-hee, Kim In-gi, and Lee Jae-woong.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Prosperity for all,” an oxymoron given Jwa’s emphasis on “difference and superiority.”

He went on to say that if we are to succeed, we should give preferential treatment to the successful. Nobody can be the same, but everyone should develop their ways. “Welfare policies should shift their focus from the previous notion that we should help out the poor and underprivileged because their lives are miserable to new ones that encourage those who struggle their way to succeed. Only with the change can we lead these people out of the shadow into the light. This is our way to go for welfare in the true sense of the word in the 21 century.”

Bank of Korea Governor Lee Seong-tae pointed out that Korea has increasingly encountered societal problems, often seen in advanced countries such as collective selfishness of labor unions, and the growing demand for enormous welfare benefits in exchange for little or no obligation,

Chung-Ang University Professor Ahn Guk-sihn asserted that the incumbent administration was trapped in leftism at the last 2004 conference. Seoul National University Professor Lee Seung-hoon said, “GE’s Jack Welch could not have been successful if he had worked in Korea, where investment regulations on large companies, anti-corporate sentiment, and too many expectations for corporate social contributions undermine sound entrepreneurship.” However, when the government, labor, and the public continue to refuse to swallow a bitter pill, they cannot cure the sickness altogether.

Heo Seung-ho, Editorial Writer, tigera@donga.com