Saturday, August 15, 2020

Korean New Deal

A featured article in the Catholic Times on the Korean government's New Deal can be compared to what President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented between 1933 to 1939, prompted by the stock market crash and the Great Depression in the States. The article considers the limits and alternatives to the Korean Version of the New Deal from the Church's Perspective.

The policy considers three areas: Digital New Deal, Green New Deal, and Human New Deal: strengthening the employment and the social safety nets with a vast investment of money and the hope of creating millions of new jobs by 2025.

Korea has passed a period of national development centered on economic growth. In contemporary history, Korea achieved rapid economic growth, but behind the scenes, the socially underprivileged: women, youth, and non-regular workers have been discriminated against. It is no longer difficult to solve tasks such as qualitative leaps forward, creative development, and improvement of the quality of life for some. However, the overall potential growth rate is falling, people feel uneasy. Korea must overcome the problem of the low birth rate and raise the happiness level of the citizens.
Korea's version of the New Deal is promoted with the intent of opening a way for all the people to join hands and overcome these difficulties. From the perspective of the Catholic Church, this Korean version of the New Deal policy is positively evaluated in that it strengthens the social safety net for the socially underprivileged while pursuing harmony, coexistence, cooperation, and solidarity. However, the lack of awareness of the climate crisis and the great many labor problems is worrisome.

The Digital New Deal is a plan to transform digitally the foundations of the nation and industry. The Green New Deal plans to build infrastructure for new and renewable energy: wind and solar, and expand support for the supply of electric and hydrogen vehicles. The Human New Deal is a plan to raise investment and education in people to the highest level and to have a solid social safety net throughout life, and the more vulnerable groups to receive government subsidies.

In the Green New Deal, however, there is no specific goal related to the reduction of greenhouse gases, which is the core of the Green New Deal and there is no way to find a way to reduce the 'gray industry' centered on coal energy. It looks like it has stopped listing existing eco-friendly businesses.

Efforts to grow only the economy of human society while exploiting the global economy have ultimately resulted in destroying the global ecosystem. If we continue to do this, humanity and the creatures on the planet will suffer even more. "We must remember the warnings from scholars that in the worst case, we will be on the path to extinction."

On July 20th, labor-related civil society organizations held a press conference and raised their voices of criticism about the Korean version of the New Deal as "a labor-free work policy." It is pointed out that there were few countermeasures for the numerous problems in the domestic labor market, such as the dual structure of the labor market and the problem of non-regular workers, social conflicts resulting from this, the recent rapid increase of temporary jobs and the reality that nearly 1,000 people die from industrial accidents per year. 

Another criticism mentioned: "The Korean version of the New Deal does not contain measures for overall social structural reform such as easing inequality." The mid- to long-term policies necessary for decent jobs were not presented. To improve the quality of jobs, it is necessary to strengthen the bargaining power of trade unions as well as corporate responsibilities. This should be supported by the government's responsible labor supervision and policy implementation.

It is also pointed out that the Korean version of the New Deal is lacking in explaining how to solve the fiscal burden and how it will relate to the existing government policy of 'increasing income' and 'innovative growth'.

However, the Korean version of the New Deal is just beginning. The government and the public must constantly communicate and supplement policies on how to respond to the desperate situation of the times.

We must continue to sympathize with the policy direction and contents so that the government can come up with the right path and all work to achieve it.

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