How to create new jobs the easy way
The rain in the forest makes a spectacular sight. It is truly beautiful. I recently watched the rain calmly and appreciated its sheer beauty. And as it grew heavier, I realized it was almost time for the monsoon season. So it was no time to be sentimental! I thought of the landslide on Mount Umyeon last year and started to look around the house. The rain did not cause damage, but the street was flooded. The rainfall should flow along the valley and into a nearby stream, but that path must have gotten blocked. A similar flood happened last year as well. The water did not flow into the steam but flew down the slanted street, and the paved road turned into a small creek.
Only two months ago, a group of county workers came to the site for a few days supposedly to fix the problem. They must have identified the blocked waterway as an issue. But to my surprise, they left without fixing it. Why? Because they’re trying to create more jobs.
In the late 1970s, I was studying in America. When I ate out, a hamburger was the only meal I could afford. So if I had something to celebrate, I would eat at a burger joint. After I finished, I would carefully clear everything onto my tray and then into a trash can. Plastic utensils, plastic cups, paper plates and a soda can would all go into the trash. At the time, my younger self thought, “I am helping the economy and boosting employment by consuming and throwing out garbage. There are people who sort the garbage and recycle and people who work at the manufacturing plants for disposable utensils. I am giving them a job.”
But now, it sounds ridiculous that I did not feel any guilt about consuming and throwing away disposable goods, often to excess.
Maybe, the flood recovery work is based on the same faulty principle. Perhaps the government employees are intentionally leaving faulty drainage systems in their broken state in order to create jobs. If a flood happens again, there will be more damage to be fixed. By allowing for the same work to be repeated over and over again, jobs are secured and the economy gains a boost.
It’s true that when money allocated by the central government is not fully used, a local entity’s budget could be cut for the following year. So, some local government agencies do unnecessary repair works just to use the funds. But I never thought that faulty work might be a problem, too.
If repair work is needed because of an intentionally unfinished work in the past, the workers from the original project should be called in and made to work for free. This will still create jobs without the needless expense.
*The author is a guest columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Eom Eul-soon