Stop promoting welfare privatization that denies people’s right to care
On May 31st, President Yoon Suk-Yeol personally presided over the ‘Social Security Strategy Meeting’ and expressed the view that social services should be marketized and industrialized, and a competitive system should be introduced. While the government highlighted its focus on policies for the vulnerable, no specific proposals were put forth to support low-income and second-highest-income families or to eliminate blind spots in social security. This means that the government does not make efforts to ease the pain of low-income and vulnerable groups in the face of deepening income polarization and social inequality. Instead, in effect, the government declared that it would filter out and exclude the weak, leaving them with nothing but their own means. In addition, it is no different from declaring that the role of the state will be limited in the future by promoting the privatization of social services. The Yoon Suk-Yeol government should immediately abolish “the welfare state strategy” that has abandoned the state’s responsibility for care, that is, there is no welfare or care for the weak.
Private-led social welfare services are policies that have already proven to have failed. Many social service providers, such as long-term care for the elderly, are already operating under private competition, and the poor working conditions of care workers and the resulting low-quality of care services have been pointed out as chronic problems. The Yoon government is practically abandoning state responsibility for care by trying to leave social welfare services to the private sector, let alone strengthening the publicity of social welfare services to improve the treatment of care workers and the quality of services.
The welfare state is a country that guarantees the human standard of living of the people through active social security provisions. The more advanced welfare states are, the more people are protected from various life threats such as poverty, unemployment, and disease. Korea is the 10th largest economy in the world, but the amount of public spending on social welfare is almost the lowest in the OECD. In order to actively respond to the current ultra-low birth rate and ultra-aged society, the Yoon government’s privatization of welfare is anachronistic and regressive, despite growing public demand for further strengthening national responsibility for care, ensuring publicity of social welfare services, and expanding public institutions. We express our serious concern about the philosophy and welfare policies of the Yoon government.
The marketization of care cannot be on the national agenda. Social welfare services such as social care are not designed for profit. If companies that aim to generate profits provide social welfare services, they will avoid providing care for the elderly or severely disabled living far away and prefer middle-class households against low-income households. Under the market competition rampant by private institutions, social service stratification, in which institutions used vary according to economic power, will intensify. Further, the less they have, the more marginalized and excluded from social welfare services they are.
Despite many concerns and objections, the Yoon government continues to push for the privatization of social welfare services. They are trying to evade responsibility by cutting the welfare budget directly related to the people’s lives or passing it on to the private sector. Is there any reason to exist for such an irresponsible government if it requires the people to live with nothing but on their own? The Yoon government should give up immediately promoting the privatization policy of social welfare services that pushes the vulnerable to the cliff and practically give up its responsibility to protect people’s right to be cared for. Instead, the Yoon government should actively prepare policies to ensure the publicity of care.
June 2, 2023
Members of the Democratic Party of Korea’s National Assembly Health and Welfare Committee (Kim Min-seok, Nam In-soon, In Jae-geun, Jeon Hye-sook, Han Jung-ae, Jung Chun-sook, Kang Hoon-sik, Kang Sun-woo, Ko Young-in, Kim Won-yi, Seo Young-seok, Choi Jong-yoon, Shin Hyun-young, Choi Hye-young)
People’s Solidarity for Securing the Publicity of Care and Realizing the Right to Care
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