Practical solutions are crucialLast Tuesday’s first three-way televised debate among presidential contenders was very disappointing. It did not successfully present each candidate’s pledges on politics, diplomacy and security. Tonight’s second debate should not be a repeat of the farce as it directly deals with people’s livelihoods: economy, welfare and jobs. Three contestants must do their best to present their solutions to the recession as clearly as possible.
The Korean economy is at a crossroads as vividly seen by meager 2 to 3 percent growth rates over the last two years. The figure for the third quarter this year even froze at zero. Our future prospect is not bright. Many experts predict that our once-viable economy will register as low as 3 percent growth next year, with more dire forecasts that the rate will remain at 3 percent on average in the next administration.
Against such backdrops, candidates must unequivocally express what to do to wisely weather such hostile conditions as a global downturn, our over-dependence on foreign trade, massive household debt, quickly aging society and chronic unemployment.
As economic steam fizzles out, conflict and confrontation deepens. With a critical lack of jobs demanding additional spending on welfare, candidates must come up with tangible solutions to the dilemma of raising our potential growth rates while calming social discord. They must also make their positions clear this time on the foremost issue of tax increases to meet the growing demands for the social safety net.
The candidates must also clarify the thorny issue of “economic democratization.” Despite their persistent vows to identify themselves as the most qualified candidates for the mission, voters still do not understand the fatal relationship between economic justice and people’s livelihoods. Presidential bidders must clearly explain if the chaebol reform will really lead to improvement of people’s lives.
Then they must answer another question: Can the government create jobs without economic growth? Not to mention how many jobs will be created by job-sharing, for instance, and whether their efforts to shift nonregular workers into the regular work force will help decrease jobs as it would inevitably damage businesses’ competitiveness.
Tonight’s debate is about people’s livelihoods. The candidates must not turn it into a weird debate lacking any clear vision for our future. The crippling negative attacks and mudslinging must also stop. We hope it is a productive venue for presenting practical solutions to economic problems.