1. Ariel Sharon. The Likud is already deep into its next primaries. The running assumption there is that Labor will quit the coalition immediately after the Gaza disengagement is completed and topple the government, so the battle for the Likud Central Committee is heating up. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going with the right. This week he said he opposes disengagement, because there is no partner on the other side and we shouldn't exit the Strip without receiving compensation. He used the same opportunity to say substantial land in Judea and Samaria should be annexed. The largely right-wing central committee applauded.
Sharon is going with the jobs. This week he tried a cynical, shameless move: handing out jobs to seven of his associates - two ministers and five deputies. The idea was to signal to central committee members that his side of the bread is buttered, and the loyal shall be rewarded. In addition, the ministers and deputies will fill their offices with Likud cronies and political associates, who also naturally will work for the prime minister. And if the superfluous move costs NIS 20 million, so be it. What is that for the hero of disengagement?
Sharon showed his great disdain for us. He figured we'd embrace the new muckety-mucks with open arms. This time he was wrong. The Knesset rebelled, the public got mad, and a week that started well (referendum and budget) will go down in history for the foolish attempt to buy power with jobs for the boys.
2. Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. This week the national infrastructures minister wrote a response to my article on necessary reforms at the Israel Electric Corporation, the water utility company Mekorot, and Oil Refineries. One sentence in his article was too much: "Today, years after the accelerated Thatcherist privatization in Britain, it is clear and known that privatization led to deep unemployment that lasted several years and forced many to subsist on unemployment benefits."
The truth is completely opposite. When Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1989, the UK was in a lengthy recession and unemployment was high. The British economy was considered backward, plagued by strikes, with many loss-generating, state-owned companies. It was known then as "Europe's sickly child."
The Iron Lady changed all that. She reduced the size of government, increased competition, implemented wide-spread reforms, broke monopolies, and privatized many companies. As a result, the British economy recovered and began to grow. Unemployment fell from 11 percent to 6 percent, the number of people under the poverty line decreased, social gaps narrowed, and the UK became a flourishing economy.
The success was so great that the Labor party changed its name to New Labor, and in 1997, when he came to power, Tony Blair adopted all of Thatcher's ideals - market economy, competition, privatization - and continued to lead the British economy forward. So if not from Thatcher, at least learn from Blair, Sir Minister of Infrastructures.
3. Yuval Rachlevsky. Many citizens continue to complain that the latest wage report covered the pay of doctors, professors and port and refinery workers - and not the salaries of the Finance Ministry's own senior officials.
The truth is their pay was reported. The problem is that the report is not so ostentatious. For instance, Yuval Rachlevsky, the treasury wages director, appears at number 522 in the civil servants salary table. His NIS 29,712 gross monthly salary, like that of the treasury's director general, is far below that of many workers at the ports, at Israel Electric, and at Oil Refineries. In a few months he will retire at age 55, after 33 years on the job. He is entitled to budget-supported pension that will gross at 19,000 per month. Not too shabby.
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