[Letters] Differentiation is key for optimum welfare

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[Letters] Differentiation is key for optimum welfare

It seems the elderly’s free subway ticket has renewed discussion on welfare. Korea draws awe from major developed nations with its completely electronic, easy-to-access subway networks. On the other hand, Korea also surprises most OECD countries with its free ticket distribution to all elderly aged 65 and above. Few OECD countries offer such benefits commensurate with distribution. And yes, the distribution is a benefit, not a granted must for which taxpayers bear responsibility. It is time to review the rarely unquestioned, now budget-consuming practice.

Welfare by definition applies to those clearly incapacitated or underprivileged to perform tasks ordinary tax-paying citizens can execute. True, welfare should not distinguish conditions - whether by birth or accident - that characterize the disadvantaged; that is, the government should guarantee welfare to the incapable regardless of how they have come to be so. Welfare, however, should differentiate between ability and inability. If citizens remain able enough, outside assistance can find better recipients. Assistance promised to the capable fails the very spirit of optimum welfare to allocate all resources efficiently and effectively. Optimum welfare or selecting “the right” recipients of the elderly begins with differentiation that tests all candidates’ suitability for welfare admission.

by Choi Si-young Editing Adviser of Yonsei European Studies at the College of Law at Yonsei University
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