[EDITORIALS]Rocky road to advancementA recent study showed that archaic politics and rigid labor-management relations are obstacles on the way to becoming an advanced nation. Those findings were the result of an analysis of foreign countries by scholars from the government’s “Vision 2030” plan. The government overlooked these aspects and went on to announce its pompous plans which require more than 1.1 quadrillion won ($1.2 trillion). The academics said the developed nations with more than $20,000 in per-capita gross domestic product maintained consistency in their policies under strong leadership, but politics were much more unstable in nations yet to reach the $20,000 mark. Their studies also showed that developed countries favored small government and took on pro-business tax reforms, and relaxed regulations, but others were characterized by large public sectors. Plus, the developed countries succeeded in stabilizing labor-management relations, and tensions between the two were protracted in other countries.
So where do we stand? Politics are a mess. The government wants to be big. Labor unions and management are constantly at odds. In other words, we have all the traits of those nations that have yet to become advanced countries.
To add insult to injury, we have security concerns from North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons.
It’s not news that our politics are not just second-rate, but even fourth-rate. Still, too many politicians try to extend their careers by capitalizing on regional popularity and ideological differences, and changes in the alignment based not on political convictions but on the trend of the day.
The public sector has become too large under the current Roh administration, with the number of civil servants growing by 26,000. With the larger number of civil servants come more regulations.
There appears to be no improvement in the relationship between labor unions and management. Owing to labor disputes, Hyundai Motor has lost some 3 trillion won, more than one-third of its operating profit, over the last five years. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions is planning a full-fledged strike on Nov. 15 to protest the government’s “Roadmap to Better Labor-Management Relations.” It will challenge the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, which agreed to the roadmap, during a labor-related event in Austria. Solutions to becoming an advanced nation are available. It’s a shame we’re moving in another direction.