[OUTLOOK]Government-made DilemmasIt’s odd. This government just keeps creating problems. Why is it so important to make Jeon Hyo-sook chief judge of the Constitutional Court? Is there nobody other than Jung Yun-joo competent enough to head the Korean Broadcasting System? Why does the government insist on complicating things? These two are just the tip of the iceberg.
There exists a regulation to limit corporate investments. The government talked about erasing the regulation by the end of this year and so debate on the law has started. But the government then came up with an alternative measure to ban circular investment, so the topic of the debate has suddenly changed. Now nobody can tell where the debate is heading.
Why put bans on circular investment? The debate was about not blocking corporate investment with useless regulations. Corporations have surplus money to invest, yet are hesitant to put the money into business. That’s the reality. But the government raised the issue of the ownership of jaebol, large corporations, a topic that jobless youth are not interested in. It has now presented a measure to “ease” its regulation to limit the total amount of corporate investment.
The government has also presented a new real estate policy. It is very complicated, but still lacks substantial content. I don’t think this administration’s real estate policy was entirely wrong from its inception. I basically agree with increasing the real estate holding tax, imposing more tax on owners of two or more properties and imposing regulations on financial fields to control demand. Those measures were reasonable, I feel.
However, the problem is that ideology was involved in designing government policies. I feel pity when I look at those government real estate policies which have now become disastrous.
A decent administration would handle real estate issues by simply increasing supply and controlling demand. It would let houses be built where they are needed and it would apply a flexible tax system when appropriate purchases are made.
However, the administration has raised questions of “growth or fair distribution?” and “tax increases or tax reductions?” It then poured out such outrageous sayings as, “20 percent of haves versus 80 percent of have nots.” Leaders who are in charge of running the country should never say such things. The administration should handle real estate issues as real estate issues, and nothing more than that. Instead, the government has created unnecessary dilemmas and forced people into them.
There is no other government that blames citizens who abide by the law and pay taxes as required. The government can raise taxes, if needed. That is a matter of a choice.
However, the government should not blame the people. I do believe that current housing prices are crazy and that they will eventually fall.
But that is not because of any government measures, but because of changes in the population and family structures, flows of liquid assets and changes of lifestyle. The government should know that.
I feel the same way about government measures in regard to North Korea’s nuclear test. If the administration was in its right senses, it would act differently when the North has nuclear weapons from when it had possessed no such arms. But the administration is not determined, even after the North conducted a nuclear test. It refused to officially join the Proliferation Security Initiative, citing its worry over a possible clash between South and North Korea.
The administration says that the North’s abandonment of nuclear weapons should be a precondition of inter-Korea relations. But it has asked another question, “War or peace?” making people feel insecure.
As its old question of “Self-reliance or alliance?” did not work, it has come up with a more emotional approach. The government says it can never accept North Korea possessing nuclear weapons but it believes that the North will not use its nuclear devices on the Korean Peninsula.
Of course, no one wants war. But instead of finding ways to avoid war and to rid people’s minds of insecurity, the government suddenly asks “War or peace?”
That is a phony dilemma. The Sunshine Policy and engagement are important.
But when implementing them, the government should use logic. It should not force the people to choose between war and peace.
I have relatives in the North and I believe that humanitarian aid is necessary in preparation for the era after reunification.
But what is happening is not right. The government should stop creating unnecessary dilemmas and forcing the people to choose from irrelevant extremes. People already have too many problems and dilemmas in their personal lives.
*The writer is the chief of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Park Tae-wook