Thursday, March 30, 2006

Israel's Stock Market Nervous

The Israeli stock exchange reacted poorly to the election results, as this Jerusalem Post article points out. Looking at the results, the only thing that most people are sure of is that the newly elected government is going to have to spend a lot of money, and will probably roll back some of Netanyahu's financial reforms. This is worrying a lot of investors.

Those who voted Labor, Shas, and for the Pensioners, are looking forward eagerly for an increase in minimum wage, and increase in child benefits, and an increase in pensions. Those of us who voted for the Likud are looking forward with dread to higher taxes (which are extremely high already by American standards!), higher inflation, and higher unemployment - which has been decreasing steadily for the past year.

The Israeli mentality is one of big government, what I call the "magia li" syndrome ("I deserve this"). Everyone looks at everyone else's money, and there is resentment of the rich - which are, of course, people who make more money than you do. Noone regards themselves as rich - just middle class. There is always this mythical group of other people who make so much money, that it is logical to raise their taxes in order to pay for the social benefits that the poor deserve. The main problem with this thinking is that there are only a relative few who are genuinely rich - and even if you ask more from them (they are already paying 50% in income taxes already) it won't cover the expenses of the social programs. And, to be honest, the really rich always have ways to shelter their money anyway. So the middle class ends up paying more in taxes.

In addition, it is not just the poor who receive the money. Every family, regardless of income, receives a monthly child stipend. Personally I think this is a huge waste, but since the government takes so much in taxes, and everyone has this "magia li" attitude, the government can't even THINK of taking away this benefit from people who don't need it (and I am one of these people who don't need it). What is really tragic, is that those who are really poor, and honestly can't work, don't receive enough money to really help them. This includes the diasabled and the retirees.

I am very happy that the retirees won seven seats, and I sincerely hope they receive an increase in pensions, because they deserve it. But I am scared to death that Peretz will push forth his minimum wage increase, because I think businessnes will suffer and stop hiring, which will lead to more unemployment and more poverty. I also hope that Shas does not get an increase to the child allowances. If they really want to help the poor this way - fine. But stop wasting so much money giving it to everyone - and take the saved money and increase the allowances to those families who really need it.

The problem is, you can't get elected doing things like that. Just ask Bibi Netanyahu.

8 Comments:

Anonymous WestBankPapa said...

Three points:

1) "Magia li" is better translated as "I have it coming to me". This captures the sense of entitlement, where "I deserve it" implies selflessness, which is either feigned or ignored altogether in this system.

2) Who says the pensioners deserve more money? For decades the largest workers' pension funds where mismanaged by socialist fat-cats, and recently the government had to step in to set things right. So the average Israeli who wasn't in the elite socialist club now has to pay twice - they paid once by being excluded from the cushy jobs in socialized industry, and now they have to pick up the tab for the mismanaged funds.

This is a rerun of the bailout of the failed socialist kibbutz system - while the chain of religious kibbutzes remains solvent and prosperous because they never had their snouts in the public trough.

If we are all wringing our hands over the average Israeli's inability to appreciate Netanyahu's market reforms - why save people from the bitter consequences of mismanagement? Let them take a cut in benefits just like every other party to this shell game.

3)I'm glad you don't think you need the child stipends. Now tell me - WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY WIFE????

- WestBankPapa

12:15 PM, March 30, 2006  
Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Er... the issue of minimum wages is not that straightforward. I happened to view a report on CNN about two weeks ago that tells about several states in US that have unilaterally increased their minimum wage.

The results were quite surprising for the usual opponents of this step. The unemployment went down, the turnaround of employees went down, the GDP of states grew, etc.

There are explanations of this effect, and not to say that this is a universal law (may not work here), this clearly is a nice break of Bibi's "common sense" bull he used to feed us all.

3:34 PM, March 30, 2006  
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