First casualty / The protesters' loss
It's not Shani's return to the private sector that is worrying, but his reasons for leaving, which exposed the faulty working methods within Netanyahu's government.
"I've had enough, I've broken." Thus Finance Ministry Director General Haim Shani summed up his term to the man who appointed him, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.
Shani's resignation is not the first accomplishment of the protests sweeping the country. It's not even an accomplishment at all. In fact, it's a failure of the protest movement, since it took out a talented public sector leader who could have been able to address some of the problems being raised by the protesters.
A solution to all the problems the protesters are bringing up might not have been found by Shani, but he could have managed proper procedures that ultimately would have led to some happy resolution. But Shani broke, because he couldn't handle his superiors - Steinitz or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Shani's trouble with Steinitz didn't begin during the turbulent last month, but the political pressure cooker it cooked up finished him off. Half-baked plans, knee-jerk reactions, fighting small fires, politicians losing their cool (if they had it in the first place ) and frantic rushing from crisis to crisis did Shani in.
He had offered his bosses a organized, step-by-step method for addressing the problem by means of four working groups designed to address the different facets of the protest - indirect taxes, housing, cost of living and public sector efficiency. But Netanyahu and Steinitz didn't have the patience. They wanted an immediate fix to calm the protesters.
Shani's departure is the public sector's loss. He's not a macro economist, and his experience is in the business sector, particularly in high-tech, which is somewhat cut off from the problems of the economy at large. He should have known that public-sector management is nothing like high-tech, but his superiors should have known that someone who shook the high-tech world, around the world, should have received working conditions that would have let him contribute to the public sector.
It's not Shani's return to the private sector that is worrying, but his reasons for leaving, which exposed the faulty working methods within Netanyahu's government. Steinitz will quickly need to find another director general, who won't have a single day of grace.
If Steinitz learns one thing from Shani's resignation, it's that he can't rest on his laurels for even a minute over the country's impressive macroeconomic statistics or the finished two-year budget. Instead, he needs to look at the "other" macro numbers, such as the gaps between the rich and the poor, whether people can find housing for reasonable prices, the division of the tax burden and other issues that are currently blowing up in his face.
Steinitz should have been addressing these issues during the days he was celebrating the passing of the two-year budget. He still can come to his senses and address socio-economic issues properly and thoroughly.
The protesters won't just go home if they're offered half-baked solutions. Now is the time to manage, to lead, to change priorities - calmly. If the knee-jerk reactions continue, Steinitz will be the next to go.
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