Aug.02, 2012 | 2:50 AM–The economic edicts promulgated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, as well as by their neoliberal shofar blowers, were presented to the public as if they were courageous steps to preserve the economic security of the State of Israel. So-called painful measures in the face of populism that claims it is possible to spend, and to go on spending, without paying up.
The substance of these measures and the way they were carried out represent nothing but haste, confusion and cowardice. As usual, there was a scandalous dance with forward and then backward steps: the last-minute rejection by the Knesset’s Finance Committee; the sudden decision to reduce the cuts in the Interior Ministry, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry and the Housing and Construction Ministry following pressure from Shas; and the cancellation of the “fine” imposed on Ehud Barak’s Defense Ministry.
The size of the deficit must always be watched with an eagle eye. It is imperative to be careful and then, if necessary, to make cuts. The question is where and how. Presenting a collective bill to the people of Israel – some 50 percent of whom earn less than NIS 5,812 (much less than the average wage as published by the Central Bureau of Statistics, since the average is pulled upward by a tiny minority who earn an especially high wage ) – is a move that lacks social responsibility. Moreover, it does not indicate an ability to think far ahead. Nor is it an attempt to solve a problem at its root, to correct distortions in the existing system that could decrease the deficit and, in doing so, help reduce the insufferable social gaps that exist in Israel.
Netanyahu could have given the bill to those who enjoy various strange exemptions and who suffer less from the high cost of living. The problem is that then he would have had to contend with power groups in the Israeli economy; then he would have been forced into a wrestling match with sectors that are well-unionized and oh-so powerful. And he is afraid of that…Read More>>