Out of touch

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Out of touch

The common person’s daily life is being bruised by skyrocketing oil prices. And yet, the Lee Myung-bak administration, which vowed to revive the economy and support the people, remains silent. The National Assembly ended a session after a meaningless debate about U.S. beef imports, failing to vote on the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and other pending bills. The people have no one to complain to about their impoverished livelihoods.

When the economy is bad, the middle and lower classes are the first ones to suffer. This government, however, has no intention to care for them. It did not even bother to pretend that it cares.

An oil shock is looming, but the government remains tight-lipped. Isn’t it natural for elected leaders to seek both long-term and short-term measures to reduce the shock if domestic gas prices inevitably follow the increase in international oil prices? Does it really want to wait for the peddlers’ trucks to stop running and for the cargo truckers’ union to go on strike?

Economic hardships due to the rapid increase of diesel prices were not hard to predict, because most of the vehicles owners depend on to make a living take diesel. The government, when it adjusted the energy tax, increased the tax rate on diesel, saying that the price of diesel will match 85 percent of the price of gasoline.

The international diesel price, however, went up steeply in recent weeks, and the diesel price in the nation climbed to levels nearly the same as those for gasoline.

And recently, diesel became more expensive than gasoline.

The government should have reduced the tax on diesel or provided subsidies to diesel vehicles used to make ends meet as a short-term, shock-absorbing measure.

If it could not shoulder the burden of diesel price hikes forever, the government should have drafted long-term measures including a plan to support truck drivers’ career changes in order to reduce their reliance on the expensive fuel.

The current crisis reflects this government’s lack of awareness of the problems linked to the people’s daily livelihood. It only learns the severity of the matters after the problems explode. It is only a matter of time until the government loses people’s trust, if the people’s hardships and the government’s indifference continue. The U.S. beef crisis will calm after some time, but the collapse of the commoners’ livelihood economy will bring about an irreversible aftermath.

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