Ronald Reagan. The 40th U.S. president dies this week. He beat incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1981. He slashed taxes so that available income would rise in order that private consumption could flourish and to signal business owners to boost production, thereby creating jobs and enabling the economy to thrive.
His formula was to cut government spending, deregulate, reduce government regulations and services, while substantially cutting taxes, including reducing the marginal tax on labor to 30 percent. "The government is not the solution to our problems, it is the problem," Reagan often said.
After two years of continued recession, his moves began to bear fruit: the economy began to grow, 20 million jobs were created by 1990, the 13.5 percent inflation he inherited had been decreased to 4-5 percent, unemployment fell from 11 percent to 5-6 percent, and economic growth, which had been negligible, reached an annual 4 percent. The prosperity of the 90s, which former president Bill Clinton inherited, was the result of Reaganomics. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is acting on the same principles if he just sticks to his guns.
Limor Livnat. In a few months, the results of the matriculation exams will be published and Limor Livnat will celebrate a huge accomplishment: an increase in the number of passing grades. And how is that done?
Last week, students took matriculation exams in mathematics, a well-known obstacle. The exams were so easy it was ridiculous. One student said: "There were questions where people actually laughed they were so easy." Another said, "When we saw how easy the questions were, all the tension and concern was replaced by relief and joy."
The teachers said the exam was "fair," a code word for "very easy". One math teacher said "the four-unit test was very easy, close to the three-unit test, which meant the students didn't need to invest any thought." He added that "There is a clear downward trend in the level of the matriculation exams."
Livnat invented the "two dates" method in English and math, while allowing the grades to rely on the higher of the two scores. Test writers from the Education Ministry did their part by making the tests easier. So what's the surprise when as the level of achievement goes down, the number of students earning matriculation certificates rises?
Yoram Oberkovitz. A few days ago, the board of directors of the Israel Electric Corporation decided that the Gezer electricity production site near Ramle will be named the Yoram Station, after the late chair of the IEC labor union, Yoram Oberkovitz.
Until now, the IEC's large sites have been named after Israel's greats: company founder Rotenberg in Ashkelon, former Prime Minister Levy Eshkol in Ashdod, and assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Hadera.
In contrast, Oberkovitz is a controversial figure. IEC workers certainly appreciate the work he did for them, but in 1997, he was convicted of falsification of corporate documents, in 2000 he was indicted for bribery, and in 2003 Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein recommended he be suspended as chair of the union. Therefore, it is absurd to name a major electricity station after Oberkovitz. It is an insult to the memories of Eshkol and Rabin. After all, the IEC belongs to the Israeli people, and its board of directors must take ideological and educational matters into consideration.
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