Gangnam Style

“Broccoli Obama or Meat Romney?”
Simple choice cause I’m a vegetarian

This morning while the day has finally arrived for Americans to decide its future, President Obama was asked about PSY’s Gangnam Style dance craze, yes even amidst the Election Day, he too needs to do the ‘Obama Style’. “I just saw that video for the first time…I think I can do that move,” he said of the gallop dance from the viral Youtube video that has a traffic hit of a staggering 659.970.000 views since being uploaded in mid-July.
South Korean rapper PSY has taken the world by storm with his splashly ‘Gangnam Style’’s dance move, that it was performed to the British Prime Minister David Cameroon and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who hailed “Gangnam Style” as a “force for world peace” and sparked off “UN Style”. Next his video became a source parodies to many prominent figures1. Students and fans around the world through internet have organized Gangnam Style flash mobs. How can this catchy pop song gain so much popularity? And what is ‘Gangnam’ style?

Gangnam is in reality a district of Seoul about half the size of Manhattan where its neighborhood is covered with designer boutiques, a boom of plastic surgery clinics, women with trendy and classy style, which is often described akin to the Beverly Hills in California. It has been reported that Gangnam is home to the wealthiest 1 percent of Seoul’s population and the average Gangnam apartment costs about $716,000, a sum that would take an average South Korean household 18 years to earn. Indeed, this neighborhood has access to the country’s best education opportunities, best cultural offerings and best infrastructure. This Gangnam style is nothing new to many emerging countries around the world; in fact it is a global scenario where no country can escape from the present trend of unequal distribution of both wealth and opportunity. The gap between the more and less educated has widen and cronyism continues to prevail in all layers of society. One in which the rich get richer and the poorer get poorer. Unequal income distribution is a reflection of market and government failures which all in all impede growth and social mobility. Can we call this disaster capitalism as described by Noami Klein? Is Gangnam, a green zone – product of capitalism?

Yes, strategic and economic reforms are crucial, but to what extent? Firstly, enhance market competition and restrain cronyism and monopolies are measures to promote equality both at the national and global level. Hence, in our 21st-century liberal capitalism, the access to the free market should enable and offer equal opportunity to everyone to compete on the global playing field – the fittest and the evils of the state survive. However, the current trend shows otherwise. Going back, it’s rather G20’s playing field. After the financial meltdown in 2008 many worlds’ largest economies have reverted to trade protectionist measures to dampen foreign competition as oppose to a consensus in a G20 crisis summit in Washington. A study shows that EU and its 27 member states are the culprits who have generated more than a third of the protectionism policies which 93 percent of them discriminated foreign competition. Laissez-faire capitalism or Western liberal capitalism is clearly not the case here. Fair trading in a global economic system where some companies are benefiting from national government’s support, overtly and covertly is questionable.

On the contrary, developing countries in Asia-Pacific adopted vigorous open trading through exporting to rich countries during the Asian crisis in the late 1990s. State capitalism adopted today was started in Singapore and the model was then implemented by Deng Xiaoping in opening China up to global market. Clearly the intervention of state in the liberal market demonstrates a system’s contradiction and self-defeating. Vested interests at the end might initiate a trade war. On meta-level governments around the world are ready to commit to progressively increase social expenditure, to create more jobs and reduce hunger to tackle the divergence in fortunes of the people and boost national growth. Education is the main ingredient to build a competitive society which can drive a nation collectively. Money has to be largely spent on improving education materials and incentive for teachers and students in developing countries. For instance, while America allocates roughly 4.8 percent of GDP, U$ 700 billion in military spending in 2010, shift of spending towards education which holds 5.7 percent of GDP, U$ 972 billion can be utilized to boost social mobility through investing in the younger generation.

As the Americans have opted for “Broccoli” for a more sustainable diet, people around the world can rejoice and continue to anticipate for more equitable world!