Monday, July 21, 2014

Paying for North Korean Cheerleaders?

With the 2014 Asian Games set to begin in Incheon in September, the North Koreans initially proposed to send up to 150 cheerleaders to the games. At the time, the total cost of hosting the cheerleaders and the North Korean athletes were estimated to be around ₩1.5 billion (US$1.45 million).

Since then, however, the North Koreans have declared that they would send up to 350 athletes and 350 cheerleaders. Of course, this does not count the bodyguards and the political minders that the North Koreans will most likely send to ensure that none of their athletes or cheerleaders gets any ideas about defecting.

If South Korea ends up paying for the North Korean delegation as it has in the past during the days of the so-called Sunshine Policy, then I have a feeling that it would cost more than the aforementioned ₩1.5 billion.

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During the negotiations about how many delegates the North Korean government was planning to send (Does it strike anyone else that it is ludicrous for the meeting to have taken place at all?), the South Korean government, which seems to have grown something that resembles a backbone, did not play the game that the North Koreans wanted. A South Korean government official reportedly said:

At past international sporting events, it was customary to provide all accommodation free of charge for the North Koreans, but we decided to adhere to international practice this time. And under Olympic Council of Asia regulations, each country is responsible for the expenses incurred by its athletes and cheering squads, although accommodation subsidies are provided for underdeveloped countries that are sending a small group of athletes.

On top of that, South Korean government officials told the North Koreans that their flags that they wanted to bring were too big and could become a safety issue.

When the North Koreans were told that they were not going to get a free lunch and that their flags were going to be the same size as everyone else, as per their typical behavior, the North Koreans huffed and they puffed and said something about how South Korea displayed an “improper attitude” to the talks.

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The fact that the North Koreans even brought up these ridiculous demands should not come as a surprise to anyone.

North Korea is a nation of thugs – a country that was founded on the principle of taking everything from everyone and giving it to the Supreme Leader. What is money to the North Koreans? To everyone else who lives in capitalist(ish) economies, money is a tool of exchange – it is what people use to trade with others.

And we have to keep in mind that unless forced to do so, no one in the world trades down. People always trade up. What that means is before I decide to pay for a product, I will always make sure that the product will be of higher value to me than the money that I would give up in exchange for the product. When we accept money in payment for our effort, we do so only on the conviction that we will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. In other words, people trade value for value. That is what money is used for.

And where does our effort, the goods that we produce, come from? They don't magically appear out of thin air. We have to use our minds to create something that is worth selling. If we didn't use our minds, we wouldn't be able to create a single thing.

In sum, money is the tool that we use to exchange with each other the efforts of our minds.

That is why money is sacred. That is why we hate those who steal and commit fraud. Thieves, through no merit of their own with the exception of thuggery and skulduggery, take from the rest of us what we have rightfully earned by the sweat of our brow. That is why in a civilized society, thieves are shamed and punished (or at least ought to be).

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What do North Korean officials know about money? They certainly know that it is something that they need to buy luxury cars, French cognac, Uzbek caviar, and Danish pork. But what do they know about earning money? Why go through the trouble of earning money when they can just get easy riches by printing counterfeit money or producing crystal meth or selling women as sex slaves?

They have no rational minds to speak of – only power lust and the desire for unearned greatness. They wouldn't even know how to begin to think of something as being sacred. They are unthinking brutes, and the only good thing that they could ever possibly do for themselves and the rest of the world is to commit mass suicide.

However, now that I think about it, I think I may have been far too charitable to people who live south of the DMZ when I said that everyone who lives in capitalist(ish) economies knows that money is a tool of exchange. There are clearly some people who not only lack that knowledge, but also lack anything that resembles a brain altogether.

Case in point, The Korea Times published an editorial about how Seoul should have been the one to initiate this unbelievable fiasco by having invited North Korea to participate in a regional sports festival in South Korea and offering to pay the cost. The editorial goes on to say that Seoul needs to be more magnanimous and tolerant, no longer citing “international standards” or “popular sentiment.”

Never mind that the North Korean government is responsible for numerous crimes against humanity as well as against South Korean sailors, marines, soldiers, civilians, and diplomats. As far as The Korea Times' editorial staff is concerned, Seoul ought to be more magnanimous and tolerant toward these thugs who have threatened to attack us AND actually attacked us on numerous occasions.

When faced with such incredible stupidity, I suppose there really is only one thing that can be said.

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  1. I do... a little.

    Can you explain what you mean when you say money is sacred?

    1. Certainly. When I say "sacred," I am not associating the word with any kind of divinity. I am, however, showing reverence.

      But it should be noted that I am not showing reverence to money itself. Money is merely a tool. As I said, people use money as a medium of exchange. For example, if you and I were to engage in a trade, I would use money to buy the best of your efforts and you would use your money to buy the best of my efforts. If either of us did not put in our best and/or we found other trading partners whom we think can offer us better value for our money, we move on. Money is therefore the tool that we use to express our highest potential. Trading with one another is, therefore, the highest form of compliment that one person can bestow upon another.

      It is a way to say "I value the product of your mind so much that I am willing to give up a part of my earnings, which I have gained from the product of my own mind."

      And the human mind is sacred. Without it, we would be no different from any other beast. It is through our rational minds that Mankind has built skyscrapers, satellites, rockets, and medicine. The only way to exchange the products of our minds with each other peacefully is through trade and the thing that makes trade possible is money. If there were no money, there would be no widely acceptable medium of exchange. In such an absence, the only other alternative is theft and force.

      That is what I am showing reverence to - Man's highest potential and our ability to trade with each other our highest potential for the mutual benefit of all parties involved.

    2. Having read (and enjoyed reading) your blog for the last several months I'm not surprised to hear you answer the way you did. You have obviously spent a great deal of time studying economics and its functions in contemporary society.

      I agree with most of what you say, particularly that South Korea shouldn't be making exceptions to accommodate a nation whose policies have been consistently antagonistic toward both them and the North Korean people. I also agree with your belief that the human mind is sacred and your classification of money as a tool.

      I do take issues, however, with the idea of that tool being sacred and equating it to the ultimate realization of the mind and humanity’s potential. The idea that money and trade is an expression of human potential is probably true, but that potential manifests itself in less than savory ways just as often as not. There's no shortage of articles to be read on how money gets spent by the people with the most money-- a laundry list that one might find comparable to some of the crimes you listed alongside the North Korean regime.

      So yeah, I guess money is sacred in the sense that it is very important and certainly needs to be respected, South Korea shouldn’t feel obligated to spend the peoples’ money on North Korean athletes and cheerleaders, for example, but I don’t think that it is necessarily as ideal (“trading with one another is…. The highest compliment…”) as you make it sound in this post.

    3. What you say is true that there are plenty of instances whereby people have spent money for clearly immoral and evil purposes. However, does that make money evil? Money is only a tool. People can use money for whatever purpose that they wish but it does not define the person who wields it.

      The foolish, the immoral, morally bankrupt, or evil brutes will always use money as a source of unearned greatness. They will build themselves monuments on top of the corpses of widows but how long does their wealth last? When it comes to mere individuals, their money might last for a while, but it won't be long before others refuse to trade with them.

      It's a slightly different story when it comes to political leaders. Unlike the previous group, they have the ability to use force to make sure that they stay rich.

      But either way, what does money bring them? It doesn't make them happy. It doesn't bring them a sense of pride or satisfaction or purpose. It merely grants them a little more time in their lives before they die in ignominy, despised by almost everyone who has ever known them.

      Money refuses to serve them to give them what they crave the most.