Five welfare suggestions

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Five welfare suggestions

Controversy over a new basic pension for senior citizens has gone beyond the boiling point. The enlargement of our welfare is dominating our local politics these days. The administration’s willingness to leave from an expensive campaign promise could have be foreseen, especially when you recall how the promise was made — a time of intense rivalry over welfare policies during last year’s presidential campaign. The resentment over the broken promise, the sense of betrayal and political exploitation of both parties could also be foreseen.

But if all the welfare policies promised during last year’s campaign were carried out, a sustainable social security system wouldn’t be possible and public finances would be wrecked. The consequences of that would translate into even more disastrous social divisions or even a crisis.

A better social welfare infrastructure is certainly essential considering the high rate of unemployment among our youth, an aging population and rising income inequalities, which have turned the country into a society of the lucky 20 percent and the unlucky 80 percent in lower-income categories. Political groups that were not interested in welfare before, or even were against it, poured out welfare pledges over the last couple of years. It comes as no surprise that some of those promises made in the heat of the political moment were unfeasible.

From the line-up of welfare policies in existence, South Korea has the appearance of a social welfare heaven. But in fact, the system lacks substance because most of those policies are connected to means, or personal assets. In terms of welfare for seniors, South Korea ranks 67th among 91 countries, according to HelpAge International, a global organization devoted to the rights and welfare of older people. In the category of stability of incomes for seniors, Korea ranked 90th — second to last — which gives a good idea of the state of insecurity Korean old people live in.

Because welfare programs are rushed and implemented with haste, some lucky older people get double and triple the benefits while others get none. Polarization is also evident in welfare benefits — it’s not a very fair system — deepening social divisions. All of this is because our welfare plans have not been organized very well or thought out.

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