Friday, September 16, 2011
"A Tale of Two Countries"
While serving with the Air Force I was assigned to a base in Korea in 1976. Having served in Vietnam on three tours I was somewhat familiar with the Asian region. I have also always taken the opportunity when stationed in an area to seek out the locals and learn something of their culture. I was very impressed with the hard-working Koreans. Though poor, the Koreans exuded a "can-do" spirit and were very dedicated toward upward mobility and making things better for their children.
Korea in 1976 was still pulling herself out of extreme poverty. The typical household still heated their homes with a charcoal burning furnace and the typical Korean kitchen was a little one-foot sized butane stove and a small mini-fridge, typically in the same room that served as living room and bedroom. Almost all cars on the road were Hyundai taxi's; very few Koreans owned private automobiles. Public transportation was the primary means of getting around. Per capita income was $3,000 per year.
In 1982 I returned for another one year assignment in Korea. Upon my return I was amazed at the rapid progress this little Asian country had achieved in six short years. In the late 70's the government restructured their regulations to spur business activity. The results were astonishing. This time I witnessed middle class Koreans for the first time. They were driving their own automobiles, their homes were modern, replete with modern new kitchen appliances and everyone was extremely busy climbing the economic ladder! Per capita income had more than doubled to $7,000 per year, there was no inflation and industrial producton was beginning to spur export traffic. In 2010, Korea per capita income is $28,000 dollars per year and Korean products such as Kia and Hyundai and Samsung are known for quality throughout the world.
Korea's tremendous economic success is attributable to two factors; an impressive work ethic and a business environment nourished by government that believes in the free markets!
Contrast Korea's success with that of the United States during the past two decades. As the Koreans scoff at lazy laggards and champion the rewards of hard work, the U.S. has developed a "victim class" mentality that is sucking the very life from our economy. The U.S. government has become so intrusive in our lives and our political philosophy has turned so liberal that John and Bobby Kennedy, the liberal icons of their time, are spinning in their graves at liberalism run amok. Both would be considered Tea Partiers today.
Our massive debt, our severe unemployment problems and our depression-era economy is now forcing us to take a good long look at where we've been and where we're going. We are now at a crossroads and must choose the path we will travel in the future. Will America stop whining and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get going? Or will we follow the European socialist model and stifle all sources of innovation?
It is clear that Obama and the liberal Democrats are hell bent on a socialist model. Many will follow them as long as that government check keeps coming. Some Tea Party folks, some truly conservative and Independent Americans have seen the direction we're headed and don't like it. I believe we'll know by November, 2012 the choice America will make.