[EDITORIALS]Plight of the poor concerns allIn the past few days, a 4-year-old boy in a poor family died of starvation and a woman in her 80s lost her life in a fire that was started by a candle she had lit to lower her electricity bill. These are tragic deaths, deaths that are hard to believe took place in a country whose per capita income is over $10,000.
It is doubtful whether we can still boast that Korea is the 12th-largest trading country in the world. The current administration has been emphasizing the importance of a social safety net, so how can these tragedies happen in Korea? Can we ignore them because the government is responsible for saving needy people?
The poor couple who lost their son earned about 1.5 million won ($1,415) a month from manual labor, but they had been out of work for the past two months because of the bad economy. They couldn’t pay their rent, electricity and water bills, and so the family of five had to skip meals one day a week. But because their income was considered above the minimum living wage of 1.06 million won, they did not qualify for basic support. The handicapped wife and the son were also not registered as residents at the local office.
Although they belong to the lowest-income level, they were not supported by the government’s safety net. We can see that the government survey to find people who qualified for basic support was poorly carried out.
A total of 1,358,900 people get basic aid from the government. As the economic recession persists, many self-employed and temporary workers are losing their jobs. Consequently, the group of people who are in the next-to-lowest class but who do not qualify for government help, like the couple who lost their son, is growing. As they are excluded from the social safety net, going without money or health insurance, their lives are under threat.
The government plans to study the situation and draw up plans for these people. According to some research, there are some 1,099,500 people who belong to the next-to-lowest economic class. It is uncertain whether they can endure this winter without problems.
The government’s role is important, but the care and attention of wealthy people is vital. There is an old saying that poverty can’t be solved by the government alone.
It is necessary to pay attention to our neighbors. We must see whether there are people who can’t afford a living and extend a helping hand to them.