Good news that is also bad

If I took the Korean newspapers seriously then I would have to believe that Korean society has fallen apart.

* * *

Jeon to tackle low birthrate
Anti-Mom Community Shocks Bloggers

Minister for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Jeon Jae-hee yesterday expressed
her strong will to tackle the falling birthrate and the aging of society.
"When I think about the issue of low birthrates, I feel a flame burning on
my back," said the minister in a press meeting arranged to mark her first year
in the office.
The Korean government wants to do something about the low birthrate. What, mandate that Korean couples listen to Barry White or Marvin Gaye music all night?

After reading what some Korean youngsters have been saying about their moms I'm thinking that the birthrate is already too high...

And what would the fathers who want to leave home have to say if they had their own blogs to vent? Actually, I suspect that some of the kids who were attacking their moms were actually disgruntled fathers...

* * *

School Principal, Couch Accused of Extortion

"Senior figures at a Busan elementary school have been accused of coercing parents into paying them cash bribes, known here as 'chonji.'" The school principal and baseball team coach were engaging in the extortion on a regular basis, according to MBC TV. Some parents said they also offered them meals and other treats, with one parent saying he even bought sex for the coach, showing a bill for 1.9 million won ($1,535).
$1,535 for sex? And he had the bill showing he had paid for it?

* * *

Tips on speed reading commentaries

I'll admit it, I skipped through this Korea Times piece about racism. It is easy to do that with most commentaries. Here's the trick:

* Read the first paragraph. A good writer will set the table for you in that first paragraph.
* Read the first and last sentences of other paragraphs. A good writer will start each paragraph with the key point and the last sentence in the paragraph will wrap up the point and transition to the next paragraph. Of course, some writers are so long-winded that the paragraph may be one long sentence.
* If there's a paragraph that looks interesting then read that one in full.
* Read the last two lines of the commentary. The writer should bring it all together.

Everything else in the commentary is just filler that can be safely skipped.

The writer of this article argues in one of the paragraphs that "[t]he racist has a self-loathing of his or her own race and low self-esteem."

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Another explanation that has nothing to do with race: People enjoy using the boot of government to control other people.

Let's look at the intro for just a second:

"The arrest of eminent American Black Professor Henry L. Gates has got America talking about racism and the police."

Editors always want a current news hook for opinion pieces. The author mentions the arrest of Harvard professor Gates--then doesn't mention it or him again. That was the best way for the author to talk about what he wanted to talk about anyway while trying to connect it to something in the news.

"Was the policeman racist or not. In my mind this incident has ignited a question of far more panoramic dimensions. Why are people racist?"

Meaning, what he is saying is not really related to anything in the news. When a writer addresses "panoramic dimensions" then you can be sure there is no real news hook and it may not be relevant to anything specific...

* * *

Good or bad news?

It is not a good idea to spend too much time looking at statistics. As Peter Bauer argued in an essay I read years ago, a cow has more value to a nation's GDP than a child.

During the mid-1990s the Korean government cracked down on Koreans growing abroad. A number of reasons were given: Koreans were draining the nation's resources by purchasing items abroad. Korean companies were suffering as a result. Korean tourists had become notorious around the world. Either the Korea Times or Herald even suggested that Koreans would need government permission when traveling abroad to cut down on "overconsumption."

So I suppose today's story about the decrease in the number of Koreans traveling overseas is good news!

"The number of Koreans traveling overseas in the first half of the year plunged a record 31.9 percent from a year ago due to economic malaise and the weak won. According to a report by the state-run Korea Tourism Organization, the number of outbound Korean travelers dropped to 4.47 million from 6.57 million a year ago."

But this is good news in the sense that you got rid of a hanging fingernail by cutting off your finger.

As the Korea Times continues:

This is the worst growth rate of travelers leaving the country in ten years, the report said. Korea saw negative growth of 41.1 percent in 1998 when the country suffered from the Asian financial crisis.
So, to reduce the number of Koreans traveling abroad the solution is simple: wreck the national economy so nobody has extra cash to go anywhere.

This is the kind of good news/bad news that confuses intellectuals and politicians who spend too much time looking at statistics. A lot of Americans who couldn't wait to get rid of immigrants probably weren't sure if they should celebrate when it was clear the immigrants had left because there weren't jobs.

On the other hand, keeping more Koreans in Korea could
(1) increase the birthrate
(2) get more fathers to leave home
(3) have more kids feeling like slaves to their parents.