Today we paid a visit to Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul. It’s the world’s largest church, with 750,000 members attending seven services on Sunday or on weekdays. If this statistic is true, then about one in twelve residents of Greater Seoul attend this church. We were surprised to find out that it’s located right next to the Korean National Assembly, Korea’s governing legislative body. We don’t plan to attend regularly–it’s too bustling and crowded and felt like attending a concert sitting in the stadium seating. We’ll continue to attend a much smaller church near home. Visiting this church was an interesting experience. The music–bar none–is the most beautiful I’ve ever heard (Koreans are fabulous musicians). I’ll write more about our experience tomorrow as well as about our visit to Seodaemun Prison on Saturday. I’m not feeling well right now, so I’ll keep this entry short.
For the Shutterbugs: I posted some new photos from our Saturday visit to Dongnimmun and Seodaemun Prison and our visit today to Yoido Full Gospel Church. Enjoy!
Blog Notes: Editfish, you are right. I personally have no concerns about a private company, foreign or domestic, operating a U.S. port, so long as that company is private. When it is run by a foreign government, I’m concerned about undue influence by that government. The foreign government not only props up the company, but it has a direct influence on U.S. industry. When it is an industry as crucial as shipping, any such deal merits further scrutiny. One could make a case that U.S. ports are strategic enough to nationalize or restrict to domestic operatorship. However, the fact that P&O is a foreign company and already manages a handful of U.S. ports undermines this argument. If Congress is going to mandate that these ports transfer to U.S. operators, then all U.S. ports should be under domestic control. I don’t think that is necessary, but if Congress thinks so, then Congress should at least be consistent and not capitalize on the issue for political gain.
Teena, thanks for your comment. Please don’t be discouraged about the U.S. political system and the shortcomings of the two major political parties. I could write all day about my political opinion and how I would change the U.S. political system. Suffice it to say, I try to keep this blog as nonpartisan as possible and address subjects that pique people’s interests. Occasionally, I throw in a political subject for good measure. I don’t think any U.S. branch of government or political party has as much power as their constituents think they do. Too many political issues are out of their control, particularly as the world grows increasingly interdependent. Moreover, the U.S. political system was established with checks and balances to prevent excessive concentrations of power. I think that the government and political parties can exert influence on domestic and foreign policy through key decisions, although the resulting changes are typically not realized until many years later–often after the ruling party is voted out of power by a disgruntled populace. I believe that government tends to function better when it works together in a bipartisan manner. More work inevitably gets done when the Democrats and Republicans quit sniping at each other and get to work on solutions. If anything, I am opposed to the extreme partisanship that seems to be pervasive in politics. It has not always been this way. I think that someday, partisanship–and compromise–will be politically fashionable again.
Here’s a case in point–the privatization of the Internet. An obscure piece of legislation passed 16 years ago laid the foundation for the Information Age. In 1990, the U.S. Democratic-controlled Congress passed the "High-Performance Computing Act of 1990." It was signed into law by Republican President George H.W. Bush. Title II, Section 201, eliminated direct oversight of the Internet’s backbone by the National Science Foundation’s NSFNet, allowing the Internet to function as a decentralized network. Six years later, Internet commerce caught fire, and the dot.com boom began, fueling a half-decade of economic growth enjoyed by Democratic President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress. In 2000, at the close of the Clinton years, the Internet bubble burst, and the U.S. economy went into recession just as Republican George W. Bush assumed the presidency. The ripple effect of Internet privatization continues to this day. Five years after the 1990 act privatized the Internet, Netscape Communications went public, and the Internet boom began the following year. Both President George H.W. Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress were defeated before their key decision bore political fruit. Be wary of any politician or political party that sounds overly utopian or makes grand promises–they typically take years to fulfill, if at all.