[EDITORIALS]Stop bashing businessesThere are several prerequisites for us to have good economic growth ― an entrepreneurial spirit, a will to work by laborers and a sound consumer spirit. The economy will grow healthily only when these elements are synchronized. If these economic players lose their spirit, the economy of the nation is bound to fall into lethargy. Expecting economic growth under such circumstances amounts to looking for fish in trees.
A recent survey by the Federation of Korean Industries, which showed that six out of 10 Koreans dislike the owners of major conglomerates, should not be taken lightly. Compared to a similar survey conducted last year, the public’s perception of major conglomerates has improved only slightly, and dislike for corporate owners and the wealthy has deepened. Antipathy toward haves grew deeper as the sentiment against the wealthy because of social polarization was linked with anti-business sentiment. Two-thirds of businessmen surveyed said the nation’s anti-corporate sentiment was serious.
The factors that fueled that sentiment are complicated. Businesses cite the media’s critical coverage, hostile labor-management relations and the government’s constant investigations of Korean businesses as major reasons for the popular suspicions. The general public says Korea’s conglomerates have brought the problems on themselves.
Certainly companies are responsible for not ending the cozy and often corrupt relations they have had with politicians. But that does not mean that politicians can be called clean themselves. Every single time the administration has changed, politicians have raised new grievances against companies, blaming them for all social problems and fanning more anti-corporate sentiment.
Korea makes world-class products, but it is also true that its ethical standards are poor and its corporate cultures archaic. Those things must change; companies should be more ethical, more transparent, more philanthropic.
But the most important thing of all is that the government and the governing party stop creating anti-corporate sentiment, dividing people and bashing big businesses. The government shouldn’t pass the responsibility for the social polarization and cozy relations between politicians and businessmen to the haves and the conglomerates. The government must establish an environment where companies can be judged according to their corporate performance. No countries that are hostile to the haves and businesses have ever become developed nations.