Monday, January 20, 2014

A Modest Proposal to Fix the Impending Pension Disaster

According to Bloomberg News, the National Pension Service, Korea’s biggest investor (both among publicly and privately-owned companies) holds about US$258 billion in assets. Seeing how this information is from 2010, assuming that the NPS has reached its goal of increasing its share holdings, it could be worth more today.

Despite the NPS’ attempt at increasing its liquidity and investment revenues, things are not looking good for retirees, current or future. For one thing, according to the NPR, though full pensions are available for those who are 60 today, by 2033, that age will be raised to 65; just in time for current-day working schmucks to be told that they have to work more than they thought they had to. Furthermore, though current retirees can expect a government pension equal to half of their average pre-tax earnings, by 2028, those benefits will be lowered to 40 percent.


These are all signs that the pension fund is bracing for a hard fall. No democratic government in the world, no matter how out-of-touch, ever dares to stoke the ire of the elderly without incredibly valid AND iron-clad reasons for no other reason than the fact that unlike most everyone else, the elderly vote in large numbers and vote often.

In an effort to make sure that the elderly are not sent into geriatric fits of rage, the Park Geun-hye government has promised that it would expand the national health coverage. For example, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) plans to fully cover the costs of treating “serious illnesses, including cancer and diseases of the heart, brain and blood vessels” for those over the age of 60 starting in 2016 because, you know, no one over the age of 60 ever has to worry about such silly things.

Furthermore, no one in government seems to be willing to seriously talk about the fact that Korea has one of the world’s fastest aging populations. It is estimated that the ratio of senior citizens to working age people – currently 1 to 6 – is projected to shift to 1 to 1.5 by 2050. As someone who has studied economics for no less than eight years, believe me when I say that in economics parlance, this kind of ratio is what is called a major clusterfuck. Look it up. I’m pretty sure that’s a direct quote from John Maynard Keynes.

That's right.  I said "major clusterfuck."  What?

So, like all governments that prefer to kick the can down the road so that future generations will have to deal with their mess, the government has decided that it would raise monthly premiums paid by salaried workers and the self-employed to the NPS because who the hell cares about young people and their right to live?

Basically, what it means for young people is that though they are going to have to pay more into the NPS (the current 9 percent of people’s income might be raised to 14 percent), considering the fact that the NPS is estimated to go belly up by 2053, when today’s young people become tomorrow’s senior citizens, they’re going to be paid less and for a shorter period of time, if they get paid at all.

For non-Koreans who might not be entirely informed about Korea’s NPS problem, especially when it comes to why it is so unfair to younger Koreans, it should be noted that Korea adopted the NPS in 1988. What that means is that, unlike many American senior citizens who have paid into Social Security (a major clusterfuck in its own right), many Korean senior citizens did not pay into their pension fund and those who did paid very little.

To put it delicately, young Koreans are proper fucked.


Seeing how no one in government seems to have a clue as to how to fix this looming financial armageddon, and this is only going to worsen the inter-generational conflict, I have an idea, a modest proposal, if you will, about how to fix this problem.

The National Assembly should pass a bill that calls for the voluntary suicide of any Korean citizen who reaches the age of 70.

Before you blanch in horror, please, hear me out. It’s the only solution that makes sense.

Firstly, as we all know, the elderly, regardless of ethnicity or nationality, love their children. There are many stories that we hear about how elderly Koreans are still giving away whatever little they own to their, not only fully grown but middle-aged, children; like the story that was published in Koreabang. They have sacrificed so much for their children already throughout their whole lives. But if they truly love their children, shouldn’t they show their sincerity by making the ultimate sacrifice? It’s truly selfish of them to keep living, after all.

But if suicide is too harsh a term for people to accept, we can always call it something else. Voluntary Celestial Matriculation, perhaps?

Now of course, not all parents are loving. Some can be downright evil and petty, especially those who dare to sue their children for financial support. These people are obviously human scum and should be executed en masse via firing squad. But of course, and I will freely admit to borrowing this idea from George Carlin, their executions should not be held behind closed doors, but rather on pay per view television. I will let the maestro speak for himself.

Are you shocked? You shouldn’t be. It’s not like as though they aren’t killing themselves already. Just last year, a 78-year-old Korean woman drank pesticide overnight in front of her city hall. So it’s not like as though the elderly don’t already have a flair for the dramatic. And this kind of stuff really brings the ratings for TV shows. It’s such a shame that the elderly are doing this without letting TV executives know about it in advance. Now people shouldn’t be forced to drink pesticide in public. People can die dignified deaths (I recommend death by snu snu) in the comfort of their own homes. All I’m saying is that dying like that is such a waste of a good opportunity to make a bit more money.


Of course, senior citizens shouldn’t just be told to celestially matriculate voluntarily while getting nothing back in return. That would be inhumane. The government should promise anyone who signs a contract to voluntarily celestially matriculate full healthcare benefits, basic housing, basic income, and no need to pay sales, income, or estate taxes from the age of 65 to 70 after which they must make the ultimate journey to the other side.

Now, it would be an understatement to say that people can be dishonest. There are likely going to be some people who, after they sign the contract and get all the benefits that were promised, might decide not to celestially matriculate. To counter this problem, the government must prepare a paramilitary task force that will hunt down and execute (this time on live pay per view TV) these geriatric swindlers in the most gore-rrific manner possible.

This way, the elderly can live the last five years of their lives in peace knowing that all of their needs will be met.  They won’t live longer than they are needed which in turn will help to ensure that the NPS will remain in place for people who have paid into the pension system.  And they in turn will have to sign their own Voluntary Celestial Matriculation contracts when the time comes, which will help to alleviate current and future inter-generational conflicts. On top of all that, Korean TV will finally rid itself of its disgustingly mawkish soap operas and will actually have something worth watching! It’s a win-win for everyone!

This would be a hilarious (and arousing) way to die.

Now, I recognize that the Internet is full of ill-read philistines who are about as smart as a pound of cheesecake. And considering the fact that there are many people who have read my blog and have questioned my sanity, I think I should make this clear: No, I am not a psychopath. And yes, this was actually satire, in case you didn’t get the Jonathan Swift reference from the damned title.

Of course I do not support the legislation of enforced suicide of senior citizens. Of course this was ludicrous, and of course such a proposal, if anyone was stupid enough to propose seriously, is both preposterous and morally evil. Not only would no one in the National Assembly ever pass such a bill, much less propose one, even if it were passed, no president would ever sign it into law. And assuming that we are living in Wonderland and some buffoon(s) in the National Assembly and the President proposed and signed such a bill into law respectively (I suppose it is unsafe to underestimate the level of idiocy that politicians are capable of achieving), no Supreme Court justice would ever think it was constitutional.

But as ludicrous and evil as my modest proposal to prevent the impending financial disaster may be, at least it’s an idea, which is a lot more than what the government has proposed.


  1. You have broken the first rule of the "modest proposal." You have argued as though it is not self-evident and that normal people of normal constitution would not obviously see the utility of your solution. Swift weeps.^^