Protecting human rights of sexual offenders

By Jay Kim

As I watch the seemingly constant news stories about child rapists, I am
curious about who ordered the police to put so much effort into
covering the faces of the criminals. Don’t parents need to know what
these brutal criminals look like to protect their young sons and
daughters in the future? It is regrettable to see the police pulling a
hat over the criminal’s face, lest the wind should blow it off and
reveal his identity. Who protects whose human rights?

These people are taken to the scene of the crime to reenact it, and even
confess in detail that they planned to kill the victims to prevent
their faces from being identified. Does it follow from the principle of
protecting human rights to conceal the faces of these monstrous
criminals?

The media is not that different. They will report on criminals for a few
days, only to move on once the next incident happens. There is no way
for the parents of victims to know how long these criminals are in jail,
or whether they are included in the one million convicts that were
freed by the Aug. 15 special presidential amnesty.

I read that one arrested sex offender turned out to be a repeat offender
with a history of having committed the same kind of crime 12 different
times. On the 13th time, the person committed murder, which led to the
culprit’s capture and the revelation of his monstrous deeds. Parents are
trembling in fear that many cruel career criminals still yet to be
arrested are walking the streets and targeting their children right at
this moment.

They say that these heinous criminals are the most afraid of the
exposure of their identities. Thus, Korea must be heaven for them, since
the police go to such lengths to hide their faces with hats and masks.
Furthermore, three out of eight sex criminals are on probation, which is
ridiculous. Being arrested does not seem to mean much.

What about the United States, a country that’s dedicated to preserving
human rights? The U.S. is the most cold-hearted country toward crime.
Criminals who eat away at society are not wanted in America. In China,
those who commit sexual molestation of children are put to death without
exception, and even in the U.S., they have to be put in jail for at
least 30 years. Even after the 30 years in prison, their criminal
records continue to follow them, and there is no community in the U.S.
that will accept them. If an ex-criminal who committed a sexual crime on
children moves to a different town, the pictures of the person will be
posted all over it to warn parents. Thus, these sexual molesters of
children have to move to desolate places, change their names and spend
the rest of their lives in hiding.

In contrast, it seems that, for whatever reason, there is so much
respect for the rights of murderers in Korea while there is little
consideration for the families of the victims. Their suffering from the
crimes is totally ignored.

To protect human rights is to protect good citizens. Those who commit
such cruel crimes have already given up their own rights as human
beings. Being drunk while committing a crime reduces a criminal’s
sentence in Korea, while increasing it in the U.S.

We Koreans are compassionate. We act like mortal enemies during a fight,
but forgive each other over a bowl of makgeolli; we are a warm-hearted
people. However, we have to find a certain degree of cold-heartedness
now. Those who commit crimes should pay the price, no matter who they
are. Letting them off because they are rich, because they have
contributed much to society, because they were drunk or because they
grew up poor only encourages more crimes as a result.

Recently, criminals in our society have become bolder, and crime has
increased at a dangerous rate. This is no time to put forward
compassion, pitying criminals for the faults of society. According to a
foreign press source, international drug rings are considering moving
their bases to Korea because of its leniency on crime.

Where are the victims’ rights that the Republican Party of the U.S.
contend for? I have not seen many news reports about the families of
victims, whose lives have been torn apart forever. Our country should
not become a place unfair to victims. It is deplorable: who argues for
whose human rights for whom? It is a negative side effect of
interpreting the meaning of human rights too far.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the
Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s
website (www.jayckim.com).

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Reforming US healthcare programs

By Jay Kim

Medicare is an old welfare program in the U.S. that provides free health
insurance coverage for anyone 65 or older. Currently, 40 million people
are covered by Medicare, at a cost of about $700 billion. Twenty years
from now, the beneficiaries of this program will have increased twofold
in number to reach 80 million. We should feel happy about such an
increase in the number of people that are 65 or older, but the biggest
issues are who will pay this enormous cost and how. The concern is that
as the way things are, it would not take too long for the revenue for
Medicare, and then that of the whole country, to run out completely.
Nearly 17 percent of the federal budget is spent on Medicare.

The problem is not just that. Doctors often send patients to specialists
to get needless tests to avoid medical malpractice suits. These cases
add to the cost of the government, which is rising sky high, and the
medical claims are made directly to the government without the patient’s
review and without anyone to check them responsibly. Hence, there is
urgency in some people’s minds that this irresponsible system should be
fixed at once.

Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s
Premium-Support-Program, which is usually called a “voucher program,’’
is a proposal to address such issues. Under this voucher system, the
government gives money to those who are 65 or older to buy insurance
plans from insurance companies individually, and each individual pays,
or keeps, the difference between the vouched amount and the cost of the
insurance policy that he or she buys.

This idea is based on the calculation that only under a system like this
will insurance companies check medical claims one by one and protest
the costs of unnecessary tests, which will naturally reduce the
government’s cost. The concern is that rich people will buy expensive
insurance policies, while poor people will buy cheap policies they can
afford, which will generate another case of polarization. For this,
Ryan’s voucher plan contains an idea to help the poor and seniors with
costly long-term health problems with special vouchers.

This plan does not apply to those who are currently 65 or older but to
include those who are 55 ― the ones who will be beneficiaries of
Medicare in 10 years or later. The value of the voucher would be
adjusted annually according to the inflation rate. Besides reducing the
cost, it is more significant to give seniors the right to choose health
insurance plans that they like instead of Medicare which is directly run
by the government. The plan intends to reduce the deficit by taking the
federal government out of the Medicare program and getting rid of the
government agencies that are in charge of the program.

Next, let’s look at Ryan’s Medicaid reform.

Medicaid is a healthcare program that covers not only seniors but also
the poor of any age. Its beneficiaries also include poor people that are
65 or older. These people supplement their Medicare benefits with
Medicaid. Most of them are disabled seniors who need long-term care and
treatments. Currently, the federal government covers 75 percent of the
cost of Medicaid and the rest is paid by each state government. The
problem is that the federal funds for Medicaid will also run out soon.
Ryan’s plan on Medicaid is to change it into a block grant program whose
management will be left to each state government which will receive
block grants from the federal government. Many states seem to welcome
the idea.

Since Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a campaign
promise to repeal Obamacare, it is expected that Ryan’s plan on Medicare
and Medicaid will be carried out if Romney is elected.

It is not yet clear how American seniors will respond to this bold plan
on Medicare. Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are
aiming for senior votes with this issue, and each of them feels good,
claiming that seniors are on its side. One thing to be sure is that the
current Medicare system cannot continue as the way it is. It seems that
it is also about time for Korea to reform its national health insurance
system for its rising cost.

It is something to keep an eye on ― how Americans will respond to Ryan’s plan.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the
Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s
website (www.jayckim.com).

Presidential primary system should be changed

By Jay Kim

The presidential primary system of Korea is full of contradictions. It
would be desirable to adopt a U.S.-style open primary system. This means
we should hold primaries. If they are completely left to people’s votes
without any interference by political parties, complaints or criticisms
will disappear. Above all, unfortunate incidents like boycotting can be
avoided and the strange case of one party bringing in a new candidate
from the outside ― after selecting one through fierce internal
competition ― will not happen.

An open primary allows anyone to run freely regardless of the person’s
party affiliation but disallows anyone who does not participate in
primaries the right to run in the main election. A candidate, and its
party, with less than 10 percent (or 5 percent) of votes in the
primaries is naturally eliminated from the main election. Only in this
way, can candidates from all kinds of minor political parties be weeded
out.

We do not have to rush open primaries. It can be implemented step by
step. For example, the first primary can take place in North and South
Gyeongsang Provinces. Then, after two weeks, the next one can be held in
North and South Jeolla Provinces. Proceeding in this order, the final
one can take place in Seoul. Then, a candidate and his or her party
would be selected by the result of these primaries to enter the main
election. It would take 12 weeks to finish this process. During the
three months of primaries, candidates would undergo serious scrutiny.
Then, the parties can become involved in the main election full scale to
be verified once again for their policies and candidates.

We should not rush to choose a president to be responsible for the fate
of our country without having at least five months, three months for
primaries and two months for the main election, of verification and
judgment.

Any candidate who does not like this fierce verification process may
always drop out but may not sneak in after the primary process, since no
one may enter the main election without having been in the primaries.

The current primary system should be scrapped. Look at the behavior of
candidates of the Saenuri Party, a party with a great majority, such as
boycotting the primary because the rules were not changed to their
advantage, or threatening to boycott in the middle of a primary and
demanding the resignation of the chairman of the party. This kind of
behavior can only bring trouble. Fortunately, the good news is that they
changed their minds about participating in the primary, accepting the
conditional resignation of the party chairman.

The situation of the Democratic United Party, an opposition party, is
also frustrating. It is pitiful to watch the major opposition party that
followed pure liberalism in the past shifting abruptly to the left and
getting lost in chaos by uniting with leftist organizations that are
completely different in ideology. I heard that the party will run its
presidential primary as follows: Seven candidates will run in a national
election. As a result of the first round, two will be eliminated. Then,
three candidates will be eliminated after another stage, and a
candidate of the party will be selected in the next round. However,
after this, another primary between the selected candidate and an
external candidate will take place.

I have never heard of such a case in the U.S., where a party went
through the process of selecting a candidate and then felt so little
confidence that they would require the recruitment of an external
candidate. The Democratic United Party should unite to put more
concerted efforts toward raising the competitiveness of its candidates.

If they intend to bring in an external candidate who may fare better,
why do they waste time and tax money on making puppets out of the other
candidates who go through the judgment by the people? It really amazed
me to hear that such a process increases ‘box-office value.’

The fate of our country may depend on who will be the next president. In
this time of crisis, the presidential election should be really a
solemn and truthful process.

The presidential election is not show business.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the
Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s
website (www.jayckim.com).

Reforming US healthcare programs

By Jay Kim

Medicare is an old welfare program in the U.S. that provides free health
insurance coverage for anyone 65 or older. Currently, 40 million people
are covered by Medicare, at a cost of about $700 billion. Twenty years
from now, the beneficiaries of this program will have increased twofold
in number to reach 80 million. We should feel happy about such an
increase in the number of people that are 65 or older, but the biggest
issues are who will pay this enormous cost and how. The concern is that
as the way things are, it would not take too long for the revenue for
Medicare, and then that of the whole country, to run out completely.
Nearly 17 percent of the federal budget is spent on Medicare.

The problem is not just that. Doctors often send patients to specialists
to get needless tests to avoid medical malpractice suits. These cases
add to the cost of the government, which is rising sky high, and the
medical claims are made directly to the government without the patient’s
review and without anyone to check them responsibly. Hence, there is
urgency in some people’s minds that this irresponsible system should be
fixed at once.

Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s
Premium-Support-Program, which is usually called a “voucher program,’’
is a proposal to address such issues. Under this voucher system, the
government gives money to those who are 65 or older to buy insurance
plans from insurance companies individually, and each individual pays,
or keeps, the difference between the vouched amount and the cost of the
insurance policy that he or she buys.

This idea is based on the calculation that only under a system like this
will insurance companies check medical claims one by one and protest
the costs of unnecessary tests, which will naturally reduce the
government’s cost. The concern is that rich people will buy expensive
insurance policies, while poor people will buy cheap policies they can
afford, which will generate another case of polarization. For this,
Ryan’s voucher plan contains an idea to help the poor and seniors with
costly long-term health problems with special vouchers.

This plan does not apply to those who are currently 65 or older but to
include those who are 55 ― the ones who will be beneficiaries of
Medicare in 10 years or later. The value of the voucher would be
adjusted annually according to the inflation rate. Besides reducing the
cost, it is more significant to give seniors the right to choose health
insurance plans that they like instead of Medicare which is directly run
by the government. The plan intends to reduce the deficit by taking the
federal government out of the Medicare program and getting rid of the
government agencies that are in charge of the program.

Next, let’s look at Ryan’s Medicaid reform.

Medicaid is a healthcare program that covers not only seniors but also
the poor of any age. Its beneficiaries also include poor people that are
65 or older. These people supplement their Medicare benefits with
Medicaid. Most of them are disabled seniors who need long-term care and
treatments. Currently, the federal government covers 75 percent of the
cost of Medicaid and the rest is paid by each state government. The
problem is that the federal funds for Medicaid will also run out soon.
Ryan’s plan on Medicaid is to change it into a block grant program whose
management will be left to each state government which will receive
block grants from the federal government. Many states seem to welcome
the idea.

Since Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a campaign
promise to repeal Obamacare, it is expected that Ryan’s plan on Medicare
and Medicaid will be carried out if Romney is elected.

It is not yet clear how American seniors will respond to this bold plan
on Medicare. Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are
aiming for senior votes with this issue, and each of them feels good,
claiming that seniors are on its side. One thing to be sure is that the
current Medicare system cannot continue as the way it is. It seems that
it is also about time for Korea to reform its national health insurance
system for its rising cost.

It is something to keep an eye on ― how Americans will respond to Ryan’s plan.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the
Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s
website (www.jayckim.com).