Sunday, August 07, 2011

300,000 - What's the message?

Yesterday’s protest was interesting and important – it goes beyond summer silliness which is what it could have turned out to be, but what does it bode for Israel’s future?

Like anything coming out of such a large (but perhaps not so diverse) group the message is anything but cohesive, but some things are cause for concern, and others, hope.

The repeated loud messages of hate and blame against the Chareidim and the settlers have been particularly worrisome. That some leftwing activisists felt it was OK to burn down the tents of some of those on they disagreed with ideologically only strengthens that concern.

That the common message seems to be “social justice” (socialism, communism, redistribution of income, government subsidies etc.) scares me tremendously. We have a vibrant and healthy capitalistic economy, and socialism is not the solution to the specific problem we are facing.

The real problem is not the actual cost of an apartment (really, how many 20 year olds do you know can afford to buy an apartment after college, or don’t rent with 2 flatmates?). The real problem is that the overall cost of living keeps going up, while salaries don’t seem to match the pace and taxes eat away at what you have. I know my family feels it as do those of many of my friends.

And the cost of living is going up, in my opinion, for artificial or at least fixable reasons.

Food costs far more than it did a few years ago. There is no reason that cars cost twice as much as they do in the US. Taxes are far too high for the lower end of the middle class – creating a working poor. Don’t get me started on gas prices. VAT adds an unbearable burden on both companies (required to collect and file regular VAT reports even when they have no direct VAT liabilities) and on individuals where it artificially inflates prices by 16%! Rent prices are going up too, and that is because the government stopped building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, as well as the unbearably slow bureaucracy that new construction projects must first go through long before a project will ever reach the consumer.

But the solution to these problems is not socialism, its more capitalism.

Open up the market to more imports.

In America, when you go into a kosher food store you have a tremendous choice of kosher products to choose from (and I’m including cheeses and meats – of excellent quality), both local and from Israel, yet here in Israel it’s always the same Israeli companies over and over again.

Reduce the bureaucracies involved in opening and running a company in Israel. Let’s create a State of Delaware in Israel for companies and watch the market flourish with small businesses. Make importing easier.

Lower these horribly high taxes. Who needs 16% VAT on top of our high income tax and Bituach Leumi? If people could only spend more, they’d buy more.

Why does a car cost twice as much as in the US – taxes – that is the only reason.

Free up land for construction. Reduce the bureaucracy to new construction. Let us build again in J.J.&S.

These are all basic steps, simple steps even, that would fix the problems in our economy. Giving out apartments is not the answer, freeing up the economy from these artificial road blocks is.

While there are those in the background driving these protests with the hopes of overthrowing Netanyahu, or through ideological hate, or through a philosophy of socialism and entitlement, my hope is that the majority who showed up are people like you and me. Concerned by the real rising cost of living – an artificial problem that can be nipped in the bud.


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26 comments:

yitz.. said...

the only thing i wanted to point out is this:

Food costs are going up all over the world .. the supply no longer keeps up with the demand -- it's a global problem, not an artificial one.

I agree w/ everything else u said.

Anonymous said...

I'm seriously concernced what these protests are about. I don't understand them, don't understand the logic of the people behind them, and I certainly don't see the connection between the news paper reports and what I hear people around me saying.

All in all, very scary.

JoeSettler said...

I disagree. There's a distribution problem in that not all areas can get food (because of dictatorial governments, 3rd world infrastructure, etc.), but the world can produces more than enough food.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly- good post
Lea

Gielah said...

I very much hope for Israel, that it will not turn to the left ( socialism and so on)for that will bring a lot of misery, like leftist politicians enriching themselves and even antisemitism and wiorking together with muslims.
Don't go along that road!
I know what I am talking about... for the left has destroyed almost everything in the Netherlands, my country: the schools, the churches, the media... it's all about keeping people stupid, poor an badly informed, so that the politicians can do whatever they want and can become millionairs in one or two years time and in the meantime sell the country and the culture of it to the Arabs.
So please, keep fighting the leftists!

josh said...

yitz,
Globes (before it become a tabloid promoting the current social justice) regularly printed lists of Israeli products that were cheaper in the States; Juice, soup almonds, meat, etc... The prices of commodities have gone up but that increase is not 1:1 in the weight of the price. If rice goes up by 50%, the price of rice in the supermarket goes up much less.

I would not want the cost of cars to come down. There would be no space on the streets here. Keep it up, make buses free.

JoeSettler said...

People are buying cars anyway if they can. No one is willingly giving up their car.

Instead, get the old gas guzzlers and polluters off the streets. Offer zero tax on low polluting cars, especially if it gets a car older than say 10-15 years off the road.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

- Raise taxes on cigarettes (the health care costs will kill us all because of all the smokers)

- Raise taxes on motorcycle insurance (there's no reason that motorcycles should have lower insurance just because they are the #1 leader in accidents in the country)

- Lower taxes (even for leased cars) on HYBRIDS! Instead of the Mazda 3 being the #1 leased company car in the country, it should be a HYBRID. The only reason it isn't is because the monthly tax on a HYBRID is more than a Mazda 3. Making the tax the same for the HYBRID would significantly lower pollution.

- Tax breaks on the interest part of mortgages for single home owners.

- Tax rent -- currently its tax free.

rrW said...

What about electricity ? Tomorrow its supposed to go up by 20% ! - all because of some tax on the 'cheaper' fossil fuel - I don't understand why electricity needs to go up at all - they can save plenty of money by making chevrat chashmal more efficient - Me thinks that if the price goes up tomorrow, the govt will have a lot more than 300K people on the street shouting...Violence is in the wings ... and it is only a mater of time before the frustrated masses kill a minister or two ...

Anonymous said...

JoeSettler - The problem with cars here is not global warming, we are too small a country to have much effect either way. The problem is that the roads are clogged and there's no space to build new ones. That's why as many people as possible need to use public transportation.

Mark said...

Joe Settler - but the world can produces more than enough food.

Sure it can. BUT at higher prices. Primarily because energy is costing more. So is fertilizer, etc. China is being smart and buying sources of energy/fertilizer/etc. But there is huge demand and that will keep prices high. Food prices are going up all over the world, even in the USA where we are so used to a huge bounty of food at low prices.

And many of the other price increases on various items can be directly traces to higher energy (and basic input) prices.

GooGl(e)itch said...

How many apartments in Gush Dan are filled with illegal aliens, which could be rented to students?

Miriam Woelke said...

B"H

Electricity is going up by 9 % and NOT 20 % !!!

Even when you rent an aprtment with two or four flatmates, Tel Aviv is so expensive that most of your salary is being spend on rent. But not only TA, as Bat Yam, Holon and Rishon (even Nes Ziona) are follwing suit.

I have been dealing with Israeli tent demonstrations for many years. The start made Vicky Knafo and Israel Twito from Kikar HaLechem. The tent villages always follow the same scheme, as they are financed by the radical left called SHATIL.

josh said...

Goo,
it is estimated that at least 2000 Tel Aviv area apartments are now taken by illegal aliens. They even rent houses because it's cheaper to pack more into them. But don't mention this to the New Israel Fund leaders or the mass media tabloids.

More ideas:
Break up the monopolies on importing brands. Single importers control the price on anti-perspirant, shampoo, chocolate, diapers and more.

Michael Sedley said...

agree with everything you said, but we also need high speed public transport from the more remote areas (Galil, Golan, J&S, Negev) to the center of the country.

Lots of cheaper housing in all these places and lots of land to build.

If people were encouraged with tax incentives to populate the Galil Negev and Northern Shomorn, and there was a high-speed train that would get them to downtown Tel Aviv in less than 45 minutes, that would bring down the price of housing for everyone.

Would also reduce the number of cars driving into Tel Aviv each morining.

Ben said...

Great post. Making the country harder for Diaspora Jews to emigrate is seriously idiotic.

Anonymous said...

"If people were encouraged with tax incentives to populate the Galil Negev and Northern Shomorn, and there was a high-speed train that would get them to downtown Tel Aviv in less than 45 minutes, that would bring down the price of housing for everyone."

HA! I pay roughly 10% taxes because I live up north. (instead of the 40% I would be paying if I lived in say, Haifa) Housing up here is tight also. The tax incentives already exist, but nobody wants to come to the pretty parts of the country.

Nachum said...

Kind of disappointed in Jameel- he's using Rahm Emanuel's old formula of "never letting a crisis go to waste" by throwing in all sorts of demands for, basically, pet projects of his that have nothing to do with anything here. Smoking? Hybrid cars? Please.

Right on, Joe.

Holy Hyrax said...

I don't understand. These protests want government to step in and help them in some way. Most likely, some government program. Well....aren't taxes going to go up again? In which they will complain about that. Nothing is free

Anonymous said...

Beware !

The city of Jerusalem has initiated a project called 'lightson.Jerusalem.muni.Il' with the stated purpose... "The concept is to turn your property in Jerusalem into a rental unit for young families and university students or into a temporary guest house for tourists, all while enjoying a monthly income ..." In reality, the City of Jerusalem wants to begin taxing empty apartments in the city at an exorbitant rate. If you fill out the form on their web site, in essence you are setting yourself up for a huge tax bill that will have to be paid with penalties and interest in many cases. Talk about social injustice in Israel, this ploy reminds me of the time I purchased a Television for my daughter then received a huge bill a week later from the Israel Broadcasting Authority even though I personally never owned a TV or radio.

Anonymous said...

Are there no limits to the genius of Joe Settler? As well as being a military expert, a political visionary with all the answers, he's now an expert in tax and trade economics too?

Shame he didn't even make the effort to understand what the protests are about. He could have even come to the protest on motzei shabbat in yerushalayim, stood with all the other settlers. Shame he took the sinat chinam route based on hearsay.

Tzom KAL

Rachel Liel / NIF said...

"The protests started out about affordable housing, but they’re really about the make-up of Israeli society."

"And while enormous sums are spent on West Bank settlements, the social safety net is disappearing beneath our feet."

"NIF-backed organizations are a part of this effort. Our Shatil organizers are in the field, lending expertise at protest sites all over the country."

"This is our moment to press for the progressive and democratic values we cherish."

Rachel Liel
Executive Director in Israel /New Israel Fund

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute! Anonymous 9:37 is accusing JoeSettler of a lot of things, but then Rachel Liel, the Executive Director of the New Israel Fund confirms what JoeSettler said - in her own press release. Methinks that Larry got it wrong again.

Anonymous said...

This Sinat Chinam, but I think it's only the radical left. Most secular Jews love their fellow Jews including the Settlers.

Anonymous said...

Reality TV comes to Rothchild Street "Tent City"
Check out the video:
http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4106563,00.html
All those beautiful, smiling people... Makes you just want to leave your Ramat Aviv Gimmel penthouse and join in on the fun !

Anonymous said...

Y/S, LOL - like Rachel Liel would even care about this blog!

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