[EDITORIALS]Resolving polarizationPresident Roh Moo-hyun will reportedly give a New Year speech tomorrow on the theme of “resolving polarization.” We agree with the government that the polarization of society has become critical, and eliminating the phenomenon is urgent. As the polarization in income distribution has worsened under this administration, the president should make an issue of it and come up with countermeasures. But first he must sincerely reflect about why polarization is happening now and how it has deepened.
Unfortunately, the government’s approach toward the issue has never involved such a process. The government has confused the cause and effect of the phenomenon, blaming the lagging economy and social conflict for polarization. The government glosses over the truth, as if the gap between the haves and the have-nots, the leaders and laggards was caused by polarization. However, the phenomenon of polarization is actually not the cause of such problems but a problem to be resolved in itself.
The major causes for income polarization are the stagnant economy and low growth. As economic activities becomes slowdown and the economic growth rate falls, it is the low-income class that suffers the most. As the number of jobs declines and workers have to accept lower wages, a vicious cycle of lower incomes sets in. Eliminating this vicious circle should be the starting point for resolving polarization. The shortcut to the solution is dragging up the economic growth rate and increasing jobs through an economic recovery.
The government should offer a vision for the future to those stepping into the society for the first time and to those struggling to set themselves on their feet by giving them the hope that they can make it to the middle class on their own. Simple monetary aid in the form of distributing the money taxed from the rich and given to the poor is not the right way. Helping them sustain themselves would be a meaningful welfare policy and would be an appropriate method to restore the nation’s middle class.
The polarization phenomenon should not be used to kindle a new blaze of social conflict and political confrontation. Any attempt to take political advantage of the issue should be prevented. It is highly hoped that the president’s New Year speech, which will reportedly emphasize how to resolve polarization, does not stir up impure intentions, and would rather be filled with messages of hope and unity meant for embracing this conflict-ridden society.