Pro-working class perils

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Pro-working class perils

President Lee Myung-bak and senior politicians from the ruling party are churning out pro-ordinary people - and pro-small and medium-sized business - remarks day after day. Lee allegedly ordered high-ranking government officials to “develop industrial policies promoting the mutual growth of big businesses and small-and-medium ones.”

He also said that he heard big companies have been trying to take credit for what their contractors did and even lure top talents away from them. Hong Joon-pyo, a leading member of the ruling party, stressed that the government will fully reflect the demands of the working-classes in its policies.

We don’t believe that such a line of thought is wrong. Rather, it is the president’s job to soothe and aid the socially - and economically - underprivileged. Large companies’ practices of cutting contractors’ prices should, of course, be scrapped, not to mention any unscrupulous attempt to steal hard-earned technologies, and the employees who developed them, from small companies. What we are really concerned about is the way in which Lee’s pro-working class policies are being pursued, primarily based on projecting a populist image rather than institutionalizing new measures.

The government emphasizes that it is not about “big company bashing.” Still, we worry that such a policy shift may heighten people’s perceptions that big companies are always exploiting small ones and that big ones are evil, small ones are good. If such a paradigm shift should lead to the promulgation of anti-big company sentiment among people, it doesn’t help anybody. Our country has already developed one of the strongest anti-business sentiments in the world.

If the problem is big businesses’ malpractices, the government can solve it according to the law. And if the existing regulations are not enough, the government can introduce new ones. However, the way the administration is making such a big fuss will be seen as populism, reminding the people of the previous administration.

The government argues that it is not against big companies and is only stressing the social role of big companies. Still, that line has problems because it may compel businesses to give their money to the working classes. That’s not what a government of a democratic country should do. Businesses’ social responsibility should be left to the businesses themselves. When the government coerces businesses to dole out their profits, the cost will eventually be delegated to its employees and customers.

Irregularities and corruptions should naturally be eliminated. But the government should not condemn big companies as if they were criminals.
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