Tag: economist

Economist 2012 Conference on Korea: Foreign Ownership in Korea

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Each year in September, the Economist holds a conference on the Korea economy (a part of its Bellwether series on Asian economies). They invite me to come, and then I try to write up my thoughts on it in the JoongAng Daily (which I think is the best newspaper in Korea) as an op-ed. Each year, unfortunately, we seem to argue about the same things – a proper, untweaked float of the won and the openness of the Korean economy to foreign products and owners. Here are my thoughts from 2010 and 2011. I was so busy in the last few months blogging about the US election and other stuff, that I didn’t get a chance to reprint the JAD op-ed. But I like it, so here is the link a few months late, and here is the text itself:

“Last week the Economist magazine held its annual conference on Korea’s economy. This series is rapidly becoming the most important regular discussion in Korea for Korea’s foreign investors. Last year in these pages, I was critical of the Korean speakers’ response to foreign concerns. This year was an improvement. The finance minister particularly fielded a tough question about foreign investors’ rights in Korea in the wake of the Lone Star debacle. To his credit, he admitted what many already know from that case – that the Korean public is deeply ambivalent about substantial foreign profit-taking and ownership of major Korean assets.

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Sam Eagle: The Original Neo-Con


If you’re asking me if I’m a little upset right now, you’d be right. The Economist has just reported what I’ve been saying for years. The Muppets have a secret conservative agenda.

“What?!” You must be exclaiming. “Miss Piggy is a Palin Predecessor?”

No. It’s not so simple. Jim Henson was no fool and I’m sure Kermit does not believe that Obama is a secret communist socialist muslim agent. Or at least I really hope so.


According to the article (which is chronicling a debate on the issue as a break from the never-ending nightmare of the healthcare “debate”):

… the Muppets are temperamentally conservative. While they value education, for example, their interest in the subject is implicitly linked to their desire for children to adopt the norms of bourgeois society, and thereby to take their place as productive citizens. Mr Henson wanted everyone to count by numbers, in the order in which those numbers traditionally appear. Although Muppets occasionally dabble in the arts, notably Rowlf at his piano, Mr Henson had little appreciation for free-form intellectual endeavour. Among his earliest Muppet sketches two curious characters appear. One, “the philosopher”, is described as scatter-brained and often quoting things inappropriately or inaccurately. Another, depicted variously as an octopus and a sea-monster, is described as big, happy, and “normal-thinking”.

But I think it goes far beyond this. Exhibit A: Sam Eagle.

Sam Eagle, the protector of “American” values, who hammers on and on and on about culture. Who uses the show to deliver address against “namby-pamby” liberals who want to put a halt to industry to protect endangered species… like American bald eagles.

Sure, Jim Henson may have supported liberally-oriented civil rights in public(remember Roosevelt Franklin?) He arguably introduced tv’s first gay (albeit closeted) couple. But let’s face it – Sam was the dark heart of the Muppet Show. The Col. Nathan R. Jessep (“protecting these walls”) so that the show may go on. The true side of felt-based American television entertainment.

And who else could we add to this list?

  • The Count – Clearly the man loved to count. I’m thinking capitalist.
  • Wayne and Wanda – Possibly secret Canadians, but were clearly in on Sam’s agenda.
  • Miss Piggy – I have always seen Miss Piggy as someone who would (hi-ya! *chop*) fight for women’s lib. But with her lust for the lime-light, willingness to trample over others for it and love of clothing and shoes, could we indeed have another Palin on our hands?


I leave it for blog readers to suggest their own candidates for a “vast rightwing sing-along variety hour conspiracy”.

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