[Viewpoint]Saving the economyThe economy is finally in negative growth. Although President Lee Myung-bak assured us that Korea will be one of the first economies to recover next year, the prediction cannot be accepted as it is. It is nothing more than the president’s intentional optimism to give the people hope. No one knows for sure what will happen to the economy this year, so how can the president say what will happen in 2010?
It is probably safe to accept that the economy will record minus growth for some time. After we accept cold reality, we can prepare for the future.
Minus growth means the economy is shrinking. Consumption and investments fall, and that leads to lowered production. When production shrinks, income and employment go down. The people will face thinner paychecks and their jobs will be in jeopardy. More companies will go bankrupt and unemployment will grow. If this continues for an extended period, we face a depression.
The current economic crisis is different from that of the financial crisis in 1997. This time the economy is shrinking gradually. But that does not necessarily mean people will suffer less or the situation is better. In fact, gradual economic recession can be more fatal.
If no one pays attention to it because the change is not dramatic, its condition may quietly get so bad it will be beyond repair.
Although it may not be serious right now, minus growth has already begun in Korea and the speed of the decline is accelerating.
The economy is not on its deathbed but its condition is deteriorating rapidly. If we leave it untouched, we will face a serious problem. The situation is extremely urgent. So far, we have only talked about crisis, but now the crisis is showing its ugly face.
It is deplorable to see politicians concentrating their energies on political fights while the economy has become a patient in the intensive care unit. They are doing nothing to treat the patient besides claiming the patient as their own. They pay no attention to the patient’s condition and pain.
Whether the patient dies or not, all they want is a political stake. It reminds one of the biblical story of King Solomon’s famous judgment.
When two women both claimed to be a baby’s real mother, King Solomon called for a sword and ruled that there was only one solution: The son must be split into two and each woman will receive half of the baby. The boy’s true mother cried out, begging him not to kill the baby, but give it to the other woman. King Solomon stopped the sword and gave the baby to the crying woman.
He wisely predicted that the real mother’s instinct would be to protect the baby’s life.
Right now, the people need Solomon’s wisdom to distinguish who will actually save the economy. Opposition parties have already taken to the streets, asking for the people’s judgment.
The true political party and politicians probably want to save the economy first, rather than concentrate on ideology and political stakes. The problem is that the economy may be ruined if we expect true integrity and conscience from our politicians.
What if both of the mothers in the King Solomon story said they wanted half of the child? King Solomon probably would have ruled that neither was the true mother and cast them both out.
However, reality does not allow us to expel politicians who did not concentrate their energy on reviving the nation’s economy.
There is a solution. We must pay attention to who destroyed the economy and then expel them in the next election. To this end, the people must be alerted and carefully observe the political arena.
The people must examine thoroughly to see if the government and the ruling party-sponsored bills are actually crucial to reviving the economy. The people also need to consider whether the economy will actually be revived if controversial bills are all scrapped and candlelight vigils against the government continue, as the opposition parties argue.
There is, however, one shortcoming to this solution.
Politicians will be judged in the next election, but our economy may have already been ruined.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jong-soo