Dear Histadrut member,
For ages tycoon Benny Gaon has been griping that his company, Gaon Holdings, is nothing but an amalgamation of unrelated little entities that bring him little satisfaction. And meanwhile his heart has been yearning to do something really grand.
Since Gaon withdrew from the tender to buy the controlling interest in Blue Square Israel, he hasn't shown up to bid at any of the great tenders making the rounds. And that lack of action doesn't suit a person who used to lead a giant business concern.
If he can't get back into big business, why not try dabbling in politics? Last week Haaretz revealed that Gaon has linked up with Amir Peretz, and is helping the mustachioed labor leader consolidate an economic platform ahead of the Labor Party primaries. Peretz has his eye on no less than the prime ministerial seat.
One would think that Gaon, the tycoon, who rehabilitated Koor Industries by firing thousands of people, is the antithesis of Peretz, representative of the laborer. Nonsense. Most of the workers Gaon fired weren't Peretz's type at all; they hadn't worked at a government monopoly and their power in political circles was nonexistent.
In any case, both politics and business create meeting places for widely diverse characters who happen to share common interests. Gaon wants a hand in politics and Peretz wants to become more statesmanlike and to expand his image beyond that of a fomentor of strikes.
What ideas has Gaon brought Peretz? We may assume Peretz's platform will include his usual slogans - "social," "safety net," "support the weak" - augmented by Gaon argot such as "free market," "globalization" and so forth. Indeed, their ideas are not contradictory, they are complementary. We would like to offer five ideas, perfectly simple ones, for the economic platform Gaon is preparing for Peretz.
1. Significantly improve the quality of health, education and welfare services. Allocate NIS 10 billion to the poor by directly subsidizing them, rather than pouring money into government mechanisms. Naturally, we cannot exceed the budget ceiling because we are part of the global economy and must obey its rules, so we will have to sharply cut somewhere else.
2. And we shall! We shall cut 10 to 30 percent of the wage costs of the fattest cats at the government monopolies and authorities. We shall cut a wide swathe through the tens of thousands of civil servants earning NIS 20,000 to NIS 60,000 a month, in salary or pension rights. We shall reduce public sector wages to levels commensurate with the private sector. Naturally, we'll have a problem with the New Histadrut umbrella-union, which generally protects the highest earners with its life-blood. But we can cope with that.
3. We shall create hundreds of thousands of jobs by improving the profitability of the business sector, through lowering taxes and dramatic reform of the government monopolies. We shall break the monopolies with their bloated work forces; we shall slash costs and dramatically improve the services they deliver to the citizens and to the business sector. Naturally, we'll have a problem with the New Histadrut, which fights every attempt to create competition to the monopolies, and to make them more efficient. But we can cope with that.
4. We shall shatter the banks' control of the capital market. We shall create new financial bodies that compete with the banks and reduce the business sector's dependence on the banks. Naturally, we'll have a problem with 30,000 bank workers who will try to persuade the New Histadrut to paralyze the whole country. But we can cope with that.
5. We shall fight the corrupt norms that have pervaded the public sector, first and foremost the nepotism at the government monopolies. We shall fight for the workers' right in the State of Israel to be hired based on merit, not kinship. We shall expose the people that dared to petition the National Labor Court to preserve nepotism at the Ashdod Port. We shall expose the people demanding that the court protect the tradition wherein 50 percent of all newly hired employees must be related to port workers. Naturally, we'll have a problem, since the Histadrut is the one behind the lawsuit to protect nepotism at the port. But we can cope with that.
We have other wonderful ideas for you, Mr. Peretz - for instance, concerning ways to dismantle pork barrels in the defense establishment, and about throwing out all those useless deputy council chiefs who are sucking fat salaries from city taxpayers. But you get the idea.
The day the Histadrut stops protecting the strongest, wealthiest workers in Israel, that will be the day the revolution can really begin.
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