[FOUNTAIN]What's wrong with the rich?"What is wrong with you, what is the matter with you? I don't know what the heck you are talking about, I really don't know what you are talking about. You better be doing good, otherwise, you will be sorry for that."
Those are the lyrics of a song performed by Kang San-e. The title of the song is "What is the matter with you."
Owners of some Korean conglomerates might see themselves in the song because the singer might be singing what they are feeling these days about the economic policies of President-elect Roh Moo-hyun and the transition committee.
High-powered businessmen are engaged in a losing struggle with the president-elect and the transitional committee, who announced the reformation of Korean conglomerates. This does not necessarily mean that most Korean people are anti-jaebeol. Rather, it means that people do not agree with what the jaebeol are saying any longer because they do not make sense.
Class-action suits by shareholders will most likely be introduced in Korea soon. Most people working at stock brokerage firms say the system should be launched as soon as possible. Even according to the market, the business foundation of jaebeol, their management is not fair and transparent.
According to the basic principle of economics, top business operators should concentrate on a cleaner and more transparent business environment. Korean conglomerates are busy making excuses that class-action suits will be abused.
Comprehensive taxation on inheritances will also be introduced. It does not come from the fact that poor people are jealous of what the rich have. It is natural economic sense that rich people should pay large taxes when they give their money or property to their children. Most people who work hard but make little money probably think that something has seriously gone wrong, considering the magic the rich people seem to have in avoiding paying taxes. The rich seem not to have heard about taxation without representation, or they might be pretending not to know the basic rule.
The fight between jaebeol and the committee should stop. This does not mean that one party will be vanquished by the other. Jaebeol should say, "Let's introduce class-action suits but regulations on the system should be detailed and highly developed to prevent abuse." And "comprehensive taxation on inheritance should be enacted and the standard of taxation should be more transparent."
Then, the jaebeol will gain a much wider acceptance among Koreans, and they will insist on laws and regulations that will help the jaebol prosper. The government will be more comfortable with passing economic regulations and the business environment will improve. Finally, Koreans will have natural respect for these companies.
by Kim Chung-soo
The writer is a senior economic affairs writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.