Force 17. An ultra-Orthodox woman, aged 38, gave birth this week to triplets. She now has 17 children. The head of the maternity ward at Bikur Holim hospital in Jerusalem said that, in their delivery room, "every child is welcomed with cries of joy." The media were awash with pleasure, their copy full of smiles and happiness: We'll show them, the Arabs, how we can compete on the demographic front.
No one asked the annoying questions like: What wage do you have to earn to support 17 children? Who works in the family? Who will educate the children as they ought to be? Who will take care that they learn a trade and become self-supporting citizens?
A family of 17 children will forever be dependent on the state. It will rely on National Insurance handouts - for gifts, for grants, for donations - which will never be enough.
In the negotiations between Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the United Torah Judaism party, the head of the faction, Yaakov Litzman, wants him to cancel the reduction in child allowances and budgets for yeshivas, as a price for his support of the budget. In Litzman's eyes, the situation is crystal clear: They will continue to have big families (and that means more votes) and they'll also continue going to the yeshiva instead of working, and that's much more pleasant. In comparison, those secular Israeli suckers, they'll just have to work a little harder and pay a little more tax, so that we can give these state handouts to the righteous families of 17 kids.
The dollar. The American currency has been weakening against the euro for quite a while. The reason is the double deficit problem of the U.S. economy. Bush may have cut taxes but he hasn't reduced government expenditure. The result: A large budget deficit of $400 billion and an even more frightening deficit in the balance of payments of $600 billion (5.3 percent of gross domestic product).
The solution to this unequal weighting is a serious depreciation in the American currency. So why has this happened only against the euro? Because the Japanese and Chinese keep their currencies artificially fixed. The Chinese set the yuan rate against the dollar back in 1997 at 8.28 yuan to the dollar and have fixed it there ever since. The government does not allow the yuan to strengthen for fear of harming its exports, and it achieves this by purchasing hundreds of billions of dollars and U.S. treasury bonds. The Japanese government also buys vast quantities of dollars, in order to keep their yen rate artificially low. In contrast, the Europeans (rightly) believe that an exchange rate ought to be free to float, so that all the pressure is exerted on the euro, which has strengthened to a level of $1.29 to the euro.
The Chinese and Japanese think they will be protected forever, that they can control their currencies eternally. But they are wrong. One day the pressure will be unbearable, the governments will cave in, and the dollar will plummet against the yen and the yuan, creating a bitter crisis. From our view, the dollar is expected to weaken against the shekel, too, so any dollar investment is not the greatest recommendation of the day.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now