The Likud ministers are still holding onto the door handles of their Volvos and their official funding, and they already have replacements. Ministers come and ministers go, but the policies remain. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left about six months ago, and he is alive and kicking in the treasury under the name of Ehud Olmert. The tone may change somewhat ahead of the elections, but the tone in this case does not make music - it was and is a flatulent cacophony, certainly to the ears of the wretchedly poor. Netanyahu's shoes, it turns out, are not too big or too bruising, they fit Olmert to a T.
The finance minister has decided to propose a "program for the war on poverty." Until the program is ready and submitted, and until it is approved and applied, the elections will have passed like the winter, the program will vaporize in the summer heat, and poverty will rise up like a thorn.
If Sharon and Olmert really wanted to extricate the poor from the depths of their poverty, they could get to work immediately. What are they actually waiting for? After all, everyone knows what needs to be done to reduce the stain of poverty that is covering the land and defacing it.
Yesterday we found out where the resources would come from to fund the program. Finance Minister Benjamin Olmert, or perhaps it was Ehud Netanyahu, announced that the tuition in institutions of higher learning would go up, and differential tuition would be instituted. The stronger will pay more and the weaker will pay less. Olmert is in his ministry as Limor Livnat is in hers: she also seduced us into believing that the glorious Dovrat reforms would pay for themselves from the firing of teachers.
Who are the "strong" who according to the Olmert plan would finance his war on poverty? Not his close friends from the upper hundredth of a percentile, who are always excused from dieting, and grow fatter all the time. What a miracle: the fatter they become, the healthier they become. Only the thin get sick. So where are all the diet experts who got some joy this week, and what do they know anyway?
The "strong" in Olmert's big eyes are the majority of Israelis. Ordinary people with pitiful incomes are defined as "average," today earning NIS 7,500 a month at the most. All these are considered strong according to the traditional measure of the Finance MInistry. The middle class has in fact felt in recent years that the rug is being pulled out from under them, and the middle class itself is slipping. But the government is now building its fallen tabernacle of initiatives on it. Now must come a serious warning: While the middle class is bending over to raise up the poor, the poor are pulling it downward.
These weak-strong boys and girls, just out of the army, are in fact not children. And still, Olmert sends them to mom and dad. Perhaps their parents will pay their university tuition as they once paid for their kindergarten. Those youngsters took off their uniforms after serving their country for three years at least and continue to serve in the reserves, and still, Olmert duly dispatches them to their aging parents to see if they can come through. Say, Ehud - do you really not understand or are your just pretending?
Why should Israeli students, the demands on whom are sky-high, pay more tuition than any of their counterparts in Europe - and that's a fact. Treasury officials have not told their minister that European students pay less, and no demands are made on them. So how will the minister find out if he is not told?
The students themselves are also to blame for their situation, especially their representatives, who are mostly apprentice politicians and want to be Gila Gamliel when they grow up. They were the ones who allowed the Winograd committee's recommendations to be torn to shreds and made do with a pizza served to them by Bibi and Sarah. All signs point to the fact that they are on their way home to mama, who is getting a little snack ready.
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