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l Zevulun Orlev. In these days of awe, Minister of Labor Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) said that we should do some society soul searching, because the cutbacks proposed by the Finance Ministry will make the rich richer, the middle classes poor, and the poor even poorer.

But let's see who really needs to do the soul searching. When did this idea of cutbacks surface? Only in 2002 when the budget situation became intolerable, leaving us with little choice. And when did standards of living fall by 8 percent, an unprecedented drop in Israeli history? In the past three years. And when did the gap between rich and poor widen greatly? Also in the past three years, when the plants closed, wages fell and unemployment increased.

What could explain this, Zevulun Orlev? Could it be the continuation of the brutal, cruel suppression of another people, continuing building in the territories, the unpreparedness to reach a compromise, the inability to give up on the settlements, the building of a political, long, complicated separation fence that will lead to only more hate, more terror attacks, more killings - and to more slaps against the economy, more brakes on investment and growth, hard blows at the budget income, and therefore the need to make tough cutbacks in welfare payments, education, health, culture and labor affairs?

But then Zevulun Orlev will continue to roll his eyes and wonder what on earth is the connection between the holy Karnei Shomron, Immanuel and Hebron and the economic and societal collapse and the widening gaps in income - that we have been experiencing for the past three years.

l Reuven Rivlin. The Knesset speaker is to introduce a bill for the financing of political parties, which will make the state provide guarantees for 10 years to the parties, while somewhat reducing the state's funding.

The Labor Party owes some NIS 117 million, an enormous debt created through profligate management, overmanning of its myriad branches, and managing an election campaign as if there was no tomorrow. Let's assume that in the next election, Labor collapses and a new left-wing party sets up instead. In this scenario, we the tax-payers will pay off that vast debt to the banks and the suppliers. The National Religious Party also has debts of some NIS 18 million, while Meretz is saddled with owing NIS 11 million.

These vast debts of the political parties (some NIS 200 million in all) is not a law of nature. The parties receive substantial funding from the state to the tune of NIS 58,165 each month for each MK and a further NIS 58,165 each month per party on top of that. For Shinui, that was quite enough. Not only does it not have a debt, but it enjoys a surplus of NIS 8 million. And this is not due to its recent success at the last election, but through prudent management from the day of its inception, with a tough Avraham Poraz guarding the cash, allowing no extraneous spending whatsoever.

So this bill of state guarantees is simply undemocratic. It works in favor of those who wasted money in the hope that it would win votes, while others who jealously guarded their expenses got fewer votes. A sort of topsy turvy carrot-and-stick.