[Viewpoint]Not yet ready for takeoff

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[Viewpoint]Not yet ready for takeoff

The people’s expectations for the new government under Lee Myung-bak are very high.
While listening to the inauguration speech of the president on television, the people surely held their own desires, big or small. Unemployed youths might have wished for jobs, workers for their own homes and entrepreneurs for the easing of regulations and taxes. Although what they want differs, the expectations they have for the new government are the same: They all expect it to do something good for them.
The grand plan of the president, “Let’s create a legendary success story on the Korean Peninsula that will even exceed the Miracle of the Han River,” will happen only when the small hopes held by individuals are realized. The Lee Myung-bak administration must give them results instead of verbal promises and assurances. The time for mapping out a plan is over. Now is the time for execution.
The main points of President Lee Myung-bak’s economic pledge can be summed up as “747.” He aims to achieve an economic growth rate of 7 percent per year, attain a national per capita income of $40,000 and make Korea the seventh-strongest economic power in the world. It is a vision full of hope for the future, which nobody can resist.
The term 747 reminds us of a huge Boeing 747 airliner taking off from a runway.
With that catchphrase, Lee’s camp probably aimed for the same effect during the election campaign. The strategy seemed to have found its mark.
The 747 pledge aroused the voters’ emotions. They long for an economic revival of the country, and that led to Lee’s victory in the presidential election. The problem now is that the expectations of the people for an economic recovery are too high.
Lee’s slogan was superb for an election, but it won’t be easy to accomplish.
An economic leap forward is like the flight of a Boeing 747, not only in image but also in the actual preparations for the flight.
The Boeing 747 was the world’s largest civilian airliner, with the longest non-stop flight distance, before the Airbus A380 appeared.
The 747 actually still flies all over the world as the main aircraft of many airlines.
Making a Boeing 747, with its huge body, fly in the sky was a modern aeronautical engineering success story, accomplished despite the numerous physical limitations.
The maximum weight the latest Boeing 747 model can lift off the ground is about 440 tons. It is not easy to fly such a heavy piece of equipment.
Two things are needed.
The first is a great driving force and the second is a really long runway.
If either one is lacking, the Boeing 747 cannot fly. It could even result in a terrible accident.
The Lee administration appears to have a big enough driving force.
It is also overflowing with the will to drive the economic growth engine. President Lee himself led a company with the driving force of a bulldozer, and he is demanding the same passion and effort from his cabinet members and his staff.
The problem is the runway. Without a smooth, long-enough runway, a plane cannot fly no matter how much driving force it has.
Unfortunately, the runway of economic growth in front of the Lee administration is neither smooth enough nor long enough.
It has holes here and there, and even weeds grow there. The runway has gotten in that condition because it has been left alone for the past 10 years. However skillful a pilot may be, he cannot make a plane take off on such a runway. It takes more than the will of the people concerned. On top of that, the surrounding circumstances are in the worst situation.
The international economy is showing signs of a depression and the commodity prices are rising sharply.
In other words, there is a storm on the runway, which has already been crippled.
Under such circumstances, the pilot who promises to take off may have a desperate feeling.
The engine should not be operated at full speed.
Even with a strong driving force, one cannot make a plane fly. The runway should be fixed first. Weeds must be removed and the holes must be covered.
We must persuade the passengers to have patience and wait for a while.
Taking off safely, though a little late, is more important than flying in a rush and ending up in an accident.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Jong-soo
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