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Policy goggles (KOR)

Sept 08,2018
In its second year, the Moon Jae-in administration wants “inclusiveness” to guide its social policy. At a strategy meeting in the Blue House, aides discussed ways to envision “a nation for all, and an inclusive nation where everyone is better off.”

The aim is to enact policies that benefit all groups instead of select groups. Under this guiding principle, the government wants to strengthen social unity, ensure sustainability in growth and enhance social innovation.

Action items include reinforcing the social safety net, lowering inequality in the labor market and raising the number of decent jobs.
Every one of these goals is necessary and worthy. At the same time, every one of them is too rhetorical. They are not backed by specific policies or financing means. How they can be achieved under the government’s obsessive income-led growth policy is also baffling.

Before the meeting, a new special presidential commission devoted to income-led growth was formed with Hong Jang-pyo, the president’s senior secretary for economic affairs, at the helm. Jung Hae-gu, the policy planning chief who led the Blue House strategy meeting, said the Moon administration, in its first year, laid the groundwork for a new economic paradigm centered on people rather than corporations. He cited the minimum wage increase as its biggest achievement.

The Blue House alone is in a celebratory mood. All the economic data shows the steep minimum wage hike and reduction of work hours have only had negative impacts.

The labor market and income disparity have worsened, yet the government continues to defend its policies by adding the word “inclusive.” Before painting a rosy picture, policymakers must look around to see if people are as happy as they are about the course.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 7, Page 34