The justices of the High Court no longer suffice with providing just remedy. It's not enough for them. Now, they also want to manage the state budget and determine Israel's social welfare policy.
This aberration occured yesterday, when the High Court issued an order nisi that requires the state to define within 10 days the standard for minimal human existence with dignity. Justice Dalia Dorner said that in keeping with the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom, she wants the treasury to provide her with precise data on the standard for a minimal existence with dignity so that she can then rule whether the cut made to the guaranteed-income allowances during Silvan Shalom's term as finance minister was proper.
In such a manner, the High Court has expanded to the point of absurdity (and mistakenly) to the interpretation of the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom. Dorner has thus followed in the footsteps of Supreme Court President Justice Aharon Barak, who has declared already on a number of occasions that he would like to see legislation of a basic law on social rights that would ensure a proper existence for every citizen.
So perhaps we should go one step further and allow the High Court justices to distribute the NIS 200 billion in the budget as they see fit. What do we need a prime minister, political parties and the Knesset for? Aharon Barak is enough.
Do the justices know the meaning of "a moral risk," "a budget constraint," and "an alternative concession?" Do they know that the guaranteed-income allowances and their accompanying terms lead to a lack of motivation to work? Do they know that the guaranteed-income allowance was higher than the minimum wage? Do they understand that a large deficit could lead to a dangerous crisis for which the politicians and not the justices themselves will have to pay the price? Do they understand the effect raising taxes has on growth? Do they have a better economic-social model than the one of the government of Israel? If they do, they should run for the Knesset.
Assume the basic law on social rights had won Knesset approval in 2000. In October of that same year, the intifada broke out, and the economy sunk into a deep recession, which almost turned into a financial crisis. Had the basic law on social rights been in effect, the government would have been unable to take the series of harsh steps it did. It would have been unable to implement the cuts to the education budget; it would have been unable to slash the child or old-age allowances; it would have been unable to reduce the guaranteed-income allowances or raise taxes on the stock exchange; and it would not have been able to implement streamlining measures and dismiss employees in the public sector.
Fortunately, the basic law didn't exist; and therefore, the government, with the approval of the Knesset, was able over the last three years to implement a series of harsh measures that saved us from economic catastrophe, from a downfall into shameful poverty and absolute chaos, South-America style.
Sometimes one has to amputate an arm to save the rest of the body - and this is the task of the politicians, not of the justices. The allocation of allowances is at the heart of the democratic process; and we elected 120 politicians to do the job. They, at least, can be replaced.
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