The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 4, 1997 · Page 20
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 20

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, December 4, 1997
Page 20
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if I ' m v i m m m v m i THE PALM BEACH POST THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1997 21A,. Korea can profit without corruption An attainable dream: Work, not welfare X .-;.-; , . - 1 r ft' y nJ 'I By Jorge A. Domenicis American Dream: A social ideal that stresses egalitarianism and material prosperity. The term was first popularized during Franklin Roosevelt's presidency. His ideas about our responsibilities for ourselves and others form the core of many of today's policies. . To paraphrase FDR, modern society acting through its government has the obligation to prevent the dire want of its fellow men and women who try to maintain themselves. In Palm Beach County, more than 3,800 people are receiving public assistance and in need of a job. Many thousands more work hard but still cannot support themselves. . Helping the needy is not enough; those in need must try to maintain themselves. In Florida, a new public assistance policy based on this simple principle is known as WAGES (Work and Gain Economic Self-Sufficiency). What does WAGES mean? If you need training, food stamps, transportation or day care and are able to work, you must find a job. Florida will provide the support and training to help you get a job. But there is a catch: the help will last only for L months. For many people, such as Ramona Baker (whose story appeared in The Palm Beach Post), that is the only help they need, and they will repay society over many productive, taxpaying years. Ms. Baker responded to the opportunity to work with County Commissioner Mary McCarty with enthu THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Elementary school students in Seoul, queue up Wednesday with dollar bills to donate to a campaign to help ease South Korea's struggling economy. Later in the day, the International Monetary Fund announced it would give $55 billion in rescue loans to the world's 11th largest economy. JVC Mr. Domenicis Humiliated by the need to ask for a bailout, South Korea may be vulnerable to a popular yearning for more authoritarian ways. By Donald Kirk The specter of South Korea's economic turmoil evokes memories of the years after the signing of the armistice that ended the Korean War in July 1953. Discipline was the only way to pull a nation from poverty, and strong leaders in the mold of emperors who united the country in dynastic wars and fended off Japanese invaders hundreds of years before were in demand. From this postwar milieu of poverty rose men who would come to dominate the giant chaebol or conglomerates that helped create the Korean economic miracle. A young general, Park Chung-hee, also emerged at this time. In 1961, he seized power, ushering in an era of dictatorial rule and precedented growth and prosperity. So successful was Park's rule in terms of forging the Korean miracle that he's remembered today with a certain fondness. Rhee In-je, a candidate for president in an election on Dec. 18 bears a resemblance to Park. He's rumored, in fact, to have shaped his hairstyle to look like Park's in an attempt to win the votes of people who think Korea would be better off with the stern leadership that marked Park's rule. It is not an idle fantasy. Humiliated by the need to ask the International Monetary Fund for bailout credit, South Korea may be vulnerable to a popular yearning for more authoritarian ways. There is plenty of reason to fear such a turn of events. Democracy remains a fragile blossom implanted on a civilization ruled under a strict hierarchical system until the Japanese threw out the last emperor. The Japanese then imposed their own harsh colonialism on Korea for 35 years, yielding to the United States in the south and Russia in the north after surrendering in August 1945. System of unswerving veneration For more than a thousand years, the ideology of imperial rule, was a Confucianism imported from China and transformed, Korean-style, into a neo-Confucianism more rigid than that in China more popish, as it were, than the pope. At the heart of this philosophy was unswerving veneration of one's elders and betters. Mr. Rhee says his resemblance to Park cuts both ways. Some people view Park's record with increasing admiration, he admits. Others, notably followers of Kim Dae-jung, the dissident whom Park held in jail and prison hospitals for years, blame Park for the current troubles. Now Mr. Kim is running for president for the fourth time, the third time since another general and disciple of Park's, Roh Tae-woo, under pressure from millions of demonstrators, introduced democratic reform in 1987, staged the first presidential election and won over an opposition divided between KY "Vi-rf, V workers, laid off or denied overtime. The downside of this kind of discipline is that it also will provoke dictatorial policies of the sort to which Korea has resorted so often over the past two generations. Not even Kim Dae-jung, venerated by American liberals for his courage against Park and Chun, is sure to change the pattern. He is saidto tolerate no dissent within his organization. Pressure from economy, North The worst fear, though, is that Korea might follow a still more dictatorial course under pressure from , a flagging economy and from the-North. There is always the risk, as the economy worsens, jobs are lost and dissent increases, that generals may decide they've seen enough of civilian rule and impose some law and order. That denouement would be very much in keeping with the pattern not just of the governance of Park Chung-hee, who may go down in history as the father, if not the patron saint, of modern South Korea, but of a couple of millennia of Korean history. For an example of a Korean dictatorship in the old style, one need only look north. While North Koreans starve, Kim Jong-il, son and heir of "Great Leader" Kim Il-sung, reigns supreme. That's all in keeping with the deepest instincts of Confucian Korean society, if not of the communist ideology that purports to inspire North Korea through its suffering. Donald Kirk is author of Korean Dynasty: Hyundai and Chung Yu Yung. He wrote this article for the Los Angeles Times. Kim Young-sam Kim Dae-jung them to take over company after company on borrowed money. It was Park's determination to "export or die," to turn Korea into a world-class economic power, that drove the aggressive chaebol to all corners of the globe, shipping, selling and building at costs far below the competition from Japan, Europe or North America. And it was Park's intolerance of democratic debate that stifled the kind of dissent that might have given voice to doubts about the chaebol system and the wisdom of assigning so much economic power to such a small sliver of society. Workers may be first casualties It is altogether likely now that . Koreans will hark back to that discipline in considering how to extricate their society from its present . plight. The strictures of a top-down order are likely to be harsh. The IMF undoubtedly will force the closure of some of the merchant banks, conduits for many bad loans. But . the next president and his finance minister will have to go much further in compelling bankrupt companies to close and in shutting down . prestige government projects. The first casualties may be thousands of ParkChung-hee Reeh In-je Kim Dae-jung and Kim Young-sam. Then, unable to succeed himself under the 1987 constitution, Mr. Roh merged his party with that of Kim Young-sam, who defeated Kim Dae-jung for the presidency in 1992. Even without the latest economic trauma, this show of democracy was, at best, an overlay on an old system. The chaebol, the political parties, the bureaucra'cy are all top-down structures whose leaders expect complete loyalty. Competing structures have gotten along with each other by greasing the way with payoffs.. It is the way vassals have displayed fealty in Korea from ancient times. In return, these loyal subjects looked to the emperor for leadership. One reason for the confusion these days is that Kim Young-sam, zealous in his prosecution of military officers and bureaucrats for corruption, has not offered tough or shrewd guidance. Instead, he has failed to control the bureaucrats and to impose the discipline needed to hold rival structures in his grasp. Determination to 'export or die' It was Park's disciplinary zeal and vision of a dynamic Korea-against-the-world that ignited the explosion of the chaebol, driving siasm and effort, She now has a permanent job. But how does one get help in finding work or improving skills? Creating a user-friendly system for job-seekers and employers may be our best chance to improve employment opportunities. Nowhere is a community better prepared for this challenge than in Palm Beach County. We've learned important lessons. , From local employers we learned: Make it simple to find productive workers who add value to local businesses. By dialing 1-800-556-JOBS, employers can place job orders, and a workforce development professional will work with them to fill their needs. From job-seekers we learned: Too many obstacles can keep even the most determined individual from achieving self-sufficiency. From professionals with experience in helping people we learned what has and hasn't worked and what rules need to be changed. As a result, we are developing a system that will help the motivated to find and maintain employment that will sustain them and their families. , The Workforce Development Board and its partners are: Placing in employment more than 80 1 percent of dislocated workers who participated in sponsored training, the highest rate ever achieved locally. Securing permanent employment for more than 1,500 people this past year, thus earning additional federal training money. Privatizing public assistance in Palm Beach County to better integrate the delivery of services. Joining the Enterprise Council, a U.S.-sponsored initiative reserved for Workforce Development Boards that excel in performance. Serving more than 1 ,300 youngsters who learned the skills that will help them understand the world of work and the work ethic. Attracting a $600,000 grant from the Legislature to develop a computerized system that will connect the resources of the various agencies that assist job seekers and employers. Marketing workforce development activities including an employer survey and a job fair that helped place more than 160 job-seekers, with another 250 pending hire. Designating five conveniently located Workforce Development Centers that provide the services job-seekers and employers need to succeed. In 10 months, some residents will no longer be eligible for government assistance. As that-time draws near, the Workforce Development Board will advocate changes to federal and state law that will continue improving the road to self-sufficiency. , There is no greater reward than to make the American Dream attainable for Ramoha Baker and others like her. Five decades after FDR, we are rediscovering that at the core of the American Dream, the work ethic remains. ., Jorge A Dominicis is a vice president of Florida Crystals Corp. and serves as the chairman of the Workforce Development Board and the WAGES Coalition of Palm Beach County. If you would like more information about these programs, call Overweight Army's new motto: 'Eat all that you can eat'? 'If we sent these kids to war, you'd have sick calls out the ying-yang.' said one drill sergeant. 'Or they'd all be dead' ups, pull-ups. Increasingly though, P.E. is an elective. By 1990, only 42 percent of high school students had mandatory P.E.; in 1995, that had fallen to 25 percent. This didn't haunt us in the Persian Gulf War, in part because in 1990, our soldiers were in better shape and in part because the conflict was mechanized and fought almost entirely at long range. Now we are in an era of "small wars," in which massive firepower takes second place to the ability of a soldier armed with a light weapon. In one such war, a unit of Army Rangers armed with little more than small arms was ambushed by a huge Somali force. But the Rangers inflicted 10 enemy casualties for each of their own and extricated themselves. As the obesity epidemic worsens, our ability to fight such conflicts has been severely compromised. We've already got a military that gives a whole new meaning to the "doughboys." Michael Fumento is the author of The Fat of the Land: The Obesity Epidemic and How Overweight Americans Can Help Themselves. He wrote this article for the Los Angeles Times. By Michael Fumerrto In combat, soldiers live and fight in boots. That's why when I was in the military a decade ago, we did all our physical training in boots. Today's basic training is done in lightweight running shoes. In combat, soldiers must surmount walls. Obstacle courses in basic training still have walls, but if you can't climb over them, you can run around them. That's fine if the enemy has erected walls only a few feet wide, but few are so obliging. Though the military is increasingly mechanized, soldiers in war's main mode of transportation is often their feet. But not in training. The 20-kilometer road march at Fort Knox now avoids Heartbreak Hill because hiking over it was too difficult. The situation is bleak throughout the services. A 1996 Pentagon study found that a fifth of troops under 21 were overweight "This is the the couch potato generation, and I'm really afraid of what'll happen when they go into combat," said one drill sergeant. "If we sent these kids to war, you'd have sick calls out the ying-yang. Or they'd all be dead." What has happened? The nation as a whole just keeps eating more and moving around less. Restaurants serve steaks the size of small calves and pile the pasta so high you practically need oxygen tanks to get to the top. A Butterfinger candy bar is seven times larger than one of the most popular candy bars in Europe, while 7-Eleven sells Cokes 10 times the size of the original Coca-Cola bottled servings. At the same time, we keep finding ingenious ways to become more sedentary. Mowers are being developed that will mow your yard while you sit back gulping your bathtub-sized cola. Americans now watch an average 4.4 hours of TV a day while complaining, of course, that "there's nothing good on." Children bear the brunt of these trends. In the 1960s, physical education was required and real. It was wind sprints, circuit training, long runs, push This time, Clinton won't hang civil rights nominee out to dry come a test of strength for both Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, and the president. Mr. Lee got unexpected GOP support last weekend from popular retired Gen. Colin Powell, who urged Mr. Lee's confirmation and cited the continuing need for affirmative action. Defying his party's opposition, Gen. Powell called it "one of the tools available to us to right the wrongs of the past." Mr. Lee's nomination was blocked in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Hatch has crusaded to dump Mr. Lee in order to shore up support among right-wing activists. Depending on when it is made, a recess appointment would put Mr. Lee temporarily in the job either until force Mr. Clinton's image as a gutless wonder, since the president insists that NAACP lawyer Lee's approach to affirmative action reflects his own thinking. Mr. Clinton deserted Ms. Guinier largely because he did not want to pick a fight with Congress early in his administration, when he had many controversial legislative priorities to advance on Capitol Hill. The political timing is more favorable to Mr. Lee. The president's toughest legislative battles are behind him. Affirmative action has exploded into a central issue the president cannot ignore. This could also be political payback time for all those judicial nominees the Senate has stalled. And it is awkward to back down in a confrontation that has be By Marianne Means The odds are that President Clinton will grant a recess appointment to rescue Bill Lann Lee, his stalled nominee to be assistant attorney general for civil rights, because of two little words: Lani Guinier. Mr. Clinton took a drubbing for failing to stand behind Ms. Guinier when her nomination for the Justice Department's civil rights job ran into opposition in 1993. He withdrew her name rather than defend her against Republican charges that her support for affirmative action plans made her an extremist "quota queen." His retreat from Ms. Guinier, a University of Pennsylvania law professor, continues to rankle civil rights activists. Deserting Mr. Lee now would rein Congress concludes the current term at the end of next year or until midway through the subsequent session in the fall of 1999. The president has the power to make such an end run around the Senate Judiciary Committee, but thus far he has never done so to bail put a controversial nominee. He has appointed 37 officials this way for convenience rather than defiance, and none has provoked retaliation or escalated partisan tensions. But Mr. Lee is a special case, a symbol of the escalating debate over diversity and racial fairness that splits the country and the political parties. B Marianne Means is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. H Lani Guinier

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