[EDITORIALS]Teaching the teachersIt is not because we believe in the mercy of our butchers, brewers and bakers that we enjoy our dinner at ease. We enjoy our dinner because we believe that they will look after their own interests. That was how Adam Smith, a British economist and philosopher, summed up the spirit of capitalism.
But the reality in our society is different. According to a survey of Korean, Chinese and Japanese people conducted by the JoongAng Ilbo early last year, Koreans said that the purpose of business was national and social development. The Japanese said it was to improve consumers’ welfare and the Chinese said business was responsible for the interests and development of business. More than 80 percent of the Koreans surveyed said enterprises should return their wealth to society, and about half said they had a bad impression of businesses. That anti-business sentiment has not improved in the past year, and some people are beginning to believe that Korea is turning socialist while China becomes more capitalistic.
It is proof of the desperation of the chief executives of Korea’s leading business organizations that they have volunteered to give lectures on the economy to middle and high school teachers. Wednesday’s lecture was a great success; more than 200 teachers participated. The lecture will allow schoolteachers to instill in the minds of their students good economic theory and a balanced view of business. It is regrettable that the lecture was not arranged earlier.
Park Yong-sung, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that a textbook defines the purpose of business as returning a profit to society. This shows where we stand. The way that enterprises contribute to society is by making as much profit as they can and reinvesting the profits to create more jobs and pay more taxes. Because the government runs the nation with tax money, companies that make big profits are the nation’s salvation.
Nevertheless, our students are taught that making big profits is unethical. This is why anti-business sentiment is high in our society. We must review the contents of our textbooks and revise erroneous parts, and re-educate teachers who spread those ideas. Only then will our students have a correct view of economics and business.