[Viewpoint]Candidates act like the presidentA very competent person became the chief executive officer of a company. He was known for giving clear briefings. He was good on the computer. He achieved excellent business showings many times, and received credit for his ability to run a company. He understood the importance of investing in research and development in order to be prepared for possible changes in the business environment. Large shareholders had nothing to do, but expected to see surging revenues. Well, that did not happen. Revenues shrank and stock prices nosedived. You might wonder why.
David Ricardo, a British economist, suggests one theory. The CEO was better than all of his employees in the company in areas such as business management, organization control, planning, marketing and advertising. He was much better than the rest. As he was not satisfied with the job done by other workers, he nosed into every matter. He even once typed a letter on his own because his secretary made too many typos.
But time is a limited resource. He spent less time and energy on managing and operating his business. He did not know that it would be more effective and productive to focus on management and operation, the areas where he excelled more as chief executive officer, although he was good in all areas. As a result, he failed as the chief executive officer.
We sometimes witness similar cases in reality. Some people who have been credited for being competent in their chosen sectors disappoint us after they become leaders.
We have seen this case in the Blue House for the past four years as well. Having worked as an excellent lawyer and popular lawmaker donot necessarily mean the person would be a competent president. The reasons can be found in Ricardo’s theory.
The president could not be satisfied with his ministers, even though he himself hired them.
He thought that the ministers could not know what should be done in regions other than Seoul, because they went to elite universities in Seoul, lived in Seoul and enjoyed operas in Seoul at their leisure.
The officials were believed to share ideologies with the president. At least, they tried to. Even if they did not, they abandoned their political convictions that they have been committed to all their lives and took the president’s, just because they were hired by the Blue House.
Nevertheless, the president could not leave work in their hands and intervened in every single matter.
The consequences are obvious. Housing prices more than doubled. The economy has lost its vitality. Diplomacy swung back and forth like a candle in the wind. The president totally neglected issues on improving the people’s livelihoods even though he had been credited for being comparatively good on that issue. People who elected him felt betrayed and his approval ratings fell into single digits. Some who still trusted him advised him to concentrate on the free trade agreement with Washington and national pension programs.
However, he produced large-scale rosy projects aimed at lengthening people’s working periods in life, and worked at investing money in national health insurance programs and social welfare programs, pushing the ministers whom even he does not fully trust.
Besides the feasibility of these projects, such policies are what a president who just entered office is supposed to think about, not one whose time to leave is nearing. He can say whatever he feels like, but his successor needs to clear up the mess he has made.
Criticizing this lame duck president might be pointless, because we elected him. However, we cannot but look into the behavior of those who are benefiting from his misrule.
The strong contenders in the race are not distinguished in areas where Korea is competitive. Thus, there is the potential to advance further away from areas where Korea is simply good but doesn’t necessarily need to improve upon.
They talk about building a canal penetrating the peninsula, an underwater tunnel bridging Korea and Japan and a railway connecting Korea and China. Or, they talk about achieving the economic growth rate of 7 percent each year or a national per capita income of $40,000. While taking about these plans out of the blue, they brazenly gave fancy names to their packages such as the Myongbak doctrine or Geunhye-nomics.
Then, how do they differentiate themselves from the president they criticize?
The president needs to behave like a president and the presidential hopefuls need to present pledges that befit presidential hopefuls. On top of that, Ricardo advises that one should have a competitive edge over others.
*The writer is an editorial writer of JoongAng Ilbo.
by Lee Hoon-beom