You get what you pay for

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You get what you pay for

Needless to say, every government policy needs financial resources to implement it. Therefore, it is common sense that any expansion of welfare benefits calls for more government budget. However, survey results contradicting the conventional wisdom came out Monday: Less than half the population said it is willing to pay more taxes for more welfare benefits.

According to a report by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs on the future direction and development of health and welfare policies, 40 percent of the respondents said that they are ready to pay more tax for enhanced welfare services. Meanwhile, 26 percent said the government must lower taxes even if it means a decrease in welfare benefits for them, and 25.4 percent said that the government is levying an appropriate level of tax for the welfare services they receive now. Those were the findings of last December survey of 1,000 citizens over the age of 20 who live in 16 metropolitan cities across the nation.

However, only 18.5 percent showed a positive response to the government’s health and welfare services, while 28.2 percent demonstrated negative attitudes towards the services. Also, 44.9 percent said the government services are neither satisfactory nor unsatisfactory.

To put it differently, more than seven out of ten citizens are not very satisfied with the current level of the government’s health and welfare services, yet six out of ten are against the idea of raising tax for more welfare services. The results clearly show a prevalent recognition among citizens that they are reluctant to pay for expanded welfare benefits even though they seem obviously necessary.

Such a remarkable gap underscores the obvious need for the government to convince the people that expanded welfare benefits are needed, and more taxes are likewise needed to pay for them. The government must assure the people that they will indeed receive more benefits later at the cost of more taxes now.

At the same time, the survey shows that the general public didn’t have a clear picture of the government’s welfare system. The Park Geun-hye administration must find out exactly what kind of welfare services the people want - based on findings of surveys like this one. In addition to finding out what people want or need in their welfare services, the government must endeavor to crack down on welfare cheats among us. We hope the survey provides a precious opportunity for taxpayers to recognize that welfare benefits will return to them in proportion to what they pay for.
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