+ A

In search of a better opposition (KOR)

Sept 19,2018
Kim Byung-joon, the interim head of the main opposition Liberal Korea Party (LKP), developed an economic platform to differentiate it from the conservatives of the past and also from the progressive ruling power. The public administration scholar, who advised former liberal president Roh Moo-hyun on policymaking, called his platform “public growth theory.” It is based on confidence in public capabilities with focus on an autonomous and fair economy. He argues that economy should be led by people and companies, not the government. The public sector should concentrate on promoting jobs, opportunities and fairness to propel and check the market.

What he and his party are proposing as their new economic growth model is nothing new. It has more or less bundled up the merits of mainstream market economy principles and liberal ideas. Much refinement is needed to remake the party’s image as a sincere representative of conservatives. It must work hard to demonstrate a constructive and efficient welfare system in opposition to blind government handouts. It is right to emphasize that job and income growth should come from enterprises and their investments. It is also correct to point out that a state-led growth through tax funded fiscal expansion can fuel moral hazard. His proposals stayed true to the textbook theory that distribution should follow market principles. His proposals to give local governments the authority to set the minimum wage according to regional incomes and price levels and reform the rigid and stratified structure of the labor market while stressing on industrial policy are also drawing nodding heads.

The LKP has not lived up to its role as the main opposition party. It must generate support for its economic platform to keep income-led growth in check. The party withdrew its vow to give 100 million won ($88,770) in assistance for every child as a measure to promote births over criticism over the treatment of women as instruments for giving birth. Its political standing will become pitiful if its economic platform ends up in the trash heap, as well.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 18, Page 30