Sunday, June 29, 2008

The State of Israel vs. Social Welfare

Israel is in the process of making a rather cruel transition from a welfare state which takes care of its citizens to a free-market economy run for the benefit of the wealthy and crooked. Up until a few years ago Jewish children were considered a national asset. The cynical might claim that this was about producing children as future cannon-fodder, but the fact was that in the former state of affairs the hareidi families also benefited from child allowances. At a certain point our beloved Supreme Court decided that giving the special additional child allowance for families who had a member serving in the IDF was discriminatory. Therefore there had to be equal child allowances for all.
The next step was to decide that the state budget could not stand the amount of money being spent in such large payments to so many citizens. Never mind that some of it was going to families of Arabs who considered the very existence of Israel a "nakba", a disaster. But they don't mind taking our disastrous money, do they? But with Bibi as Finance Minister and CFR Uber-beancounter Stanley Fischer as Governor of the Bank of Israel, the child allowances were drastically dropped. Large families with working parents found themselves in a sudden shortfall of thousands of shekels a month. Naturally, the budget for yeshivot and anything related to Judaism (with the exception of the homophile Reform variety) was cut, but that's not the topic of this post. Always in the background, though also not the subject of this post, the defense budget also went down just as the second intifada was ratcheting up as if nobody knew it was coming. Private charity filled some of the gap. That included not only the poor but the welfare of the soldiers as well.
The new policy was a great success in terms of the purpose for which it was designed. The state became solvent, budgets were balanced, surpluses went into the treasury. The stock market boomed. The shekel became strong. The rich got richer, as did their buddies in America and Europe. They could send more money to their draft-evading sons around the world.
So here is the latest episode: For the last 77 days the social workers have been on strike. No doubt, dear reader, you think that they are justified because they are underpaid, in line with everything else we have mentioned above. That's probably true, although I have not checked the pay slips of friends and neighbors who work in the field. But that's not what the strike is about. Arutz-7 news reports that all they are demanding is the hiring of more social workers to lower their case-loads so that the system will not collapse.
Well, just as the play-to-lose approach has been operating in defense, it has been applied to social welfare. The government and the elites of industry and media want the system to collapse. Labor will be cheap, unwanted people will leave the country, foreign laborers with no vote will troop in, just hunky-dory for the monied interests. Besides, they would rather have no state of Israel than that it should be too Jewish and controlled by the likes of us.


Anonymous said...

I can't stand Bibi's waffling politics, but I do think his economics are on target. Yes, implementation is a problem, but I think I should decide how to spend my money instead of letting the government dig into my pocket and tell me where to spend it.

These monopolies are a strangle hold on the economy. They're why everything is so expensive here.

IBA is just one example. We pay 1000 NIS a year to support a monopolistic bureaucracy that had the audacity to pay Haim Yavin 40,000 NIS a month. Heck, let them lose the ratings war to Channel 10 where I don't have to pay.

And why should broadcasting be so tightly controlled? Let anyone who can pay do so.

We can extend this idea to everything. Eventually with taxes down, we could go to a negative income tax for low EARNERS... but we need to stop the free ride from Jew and Arab alike.

goyisherebbe said...

In general I agree with you about Bibi's economics regarding monopolies, but values are important, too. "Internal aliya" was once a value in the State of Israel, and with the current state of the budget and currency it wouldn't hurt to ratchet the child allowances up somewhat. But it would be sheer folly to equate the Jews who protect the country with the enemies who destroy it. BTW, a Jewish family which grows traitors, i.e. those convicted of security offenses, should also not receive benefits.
As for media monopolies and the inflated salary of Haim Yavin, I'm with you. The broadcasting industry is the constant foe of Jewish values. I have given up on demonstrations, but a mass demo including the burning of thousands of TV sets and tons of newspapers would bring me out.