[Viewpoint] Surest way to win this electionPoliticians exist to get elected and political parties to govern. They do whatever they can to win votes. And to win, they must go out and attract voters, especially those under 40 who can sway the final vote count in the April legislative elections.
But it is funny how both the ruling and opposition parties are avoiding the easy way to win the hearts of those from 20 to 30 by delivering what they desire most.
According to the JoongAng Ilbo’s New Year’s series article “Jobs for Tomorrow,” what concerns those under 40 most is jobs. They bluntly say they will cast a vote for the candidate who can provide jobs. Yet no politician is addressing the needs of the young voters who can assure wins in upcoming elections.
The newly launched opposition coalition Democratic Unity Party as well as the Grand National Party’s emergency council aimed at reforming the ruling party have failed to come up with feasible action plans to create jobs. They are clinging to the same old strategy of touting better welfare even when young voters have more or less waved the trump card in their face.
Where do jobs come from? Large companies whose revenue largely comes from selling products overseas can no longer be depended upon to generate jobs at home. The domestic consumption and services market still has room to create jobs. Politicians must come up with a way to enlarge domestic consumption and the services sector. The local market failed to grow because various interest groups oppose its opening and liberalization. The medical, tourism, legal and education sectors that promise high-paying jobs remains tightly closed, guarded by lobbyists from the existing industry.
They appeal to nationalism by applying an ideological yardstick to protect their markets from outsiders. Government officials and legislators pressured by interest groups gave up deregulation efforts to create jobs for young people.
Liberalization and deregulation in domestic consumption and the services sector require sophisticated politicking to iron out various conflicts of interests. The one who can do that is a sure bet in upcoming elections.
The government and politicians all say they work for the common people or the working class. Yet their actions do not match their words. Common folks want their everyday lives to get better. They need stable jobs and increased income for better living conditions.
Reining in inflation does not make lives better. The economy must flow actively. Even if it generates wealth largely for selective large companies and the income class, the economy nevertheless must grow to boost jobs and income for the greater population. Enlarging domestic consumption and the service sector would restructure the economy to generate new jobs, not threaten existing jobs in large companies.
Politicians all promise better lives for the ordinary people and working class yet remain mum on ways to stimulate the economy to improve their livelihood. Without considering where all the money would come from, politicians are busy concocting generous and radical welfare benefit plans.
Yet they pay little attention to ways to increase national revenue by boosting the economy and jobs. They attack conglomerates and large companies as the 1 percent that enjoy the fruits of prosperity and promise to punish them when they get elected. They disregard that without them, even the tantalizing increases in economy and jobs won’t exist.
Politicians usually cannot be depended upon to come up with consistent policies. But it is unforgivable that the government too is dancing to the wrong and impromptu tune.
President Lee Myung-bak in his New Year’s address said his priority for this year is to stabilize the lives of the common people. He said he will bring down the inflation rate to the low 3 percent range no matter what.
It is unclear where the president got the idea that bringing down consumer prices is what the common households desire most and can best help their lives.
In textbook theory, if the economy is sluggish, inflation is depressed. In our economy, growth pace and consumer price rises have not been in parallel.
There is no reason to sacrifice growth to rein in inflation. What the people need is an increase in income and jobs through vigorous economic activities and growth. The government and politicians must get their priorities right first.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jong-soo